November 30, 2009

Sister of the Dead

Sister of the Dead (The Noble Dead)Title : Sister of the Dead
Author : Barb and J.C. Hendee
Reading Dates : 29 Nov - 2 Dec 2009

Book Summary of Sister of the Dead

Realizing that there is more to Magiere's creation as a dhampir to slay undeads, Magiere and her half-elf companion decide to investigate her past as well as the motives of her sire. For this purpose, the two accompanied by Chap, a fay in the form of a dog, and the young sage Wynn travel first to the village of Chemestuk where Magiere grew up.

At Chemestuk, Magiere is told by her aunt Bieja of the day Magiere's mother Magelia was forcibly taken away by their new lord of the fief, his son and a masked man. Bieja had no further contact with any of them until one of the noblemen who had taken Magelia away suddenly brought the baby Magiere back. The next day, Magelia's body was sent back and the noblemen disappeared from the keep. When Magiere, Leesil and Wynn investigate the keep despite Chap's protests, they find a mysterious hidden room with the bones of the 5 forgotten races of the Children of Fay killed as a blood sacrifice to create Magiere.

With nothing more to learn in Chemestuk, the 4 companions then decide to travel to the city of Keonsk in hopes of finding records on Magiere's father. On the way there, they help the village of Pudurlatsat battle Vordana, an undead creature, who has been slowly killing the village. Although they defeat Vordana, Magiere finds an unexpected link to herself when Vordana reveals he had been set to watch for the coming of a dhampir. At Keonsk, they meet Osceline who tells them that her master Ubad was there at Magiere's birth and awaits Magiere in the village of Apudalsat.

At Apudalsat, Ubad shows Magiere her creation via Magelia's ghost. Magiere thus learns how her mother was first raped by the vampire Bryen Massing, the father of one Welstiel Massing who had once purported to be Magiere's ally. Bryen died as part of Magiere's creation while Magelia bled to death after birthing Magiere. Welstiel saved Magiere from Ubad by faking her death with Magelia's cooperation but Welstiel's motives for doing so is still unclear.

Enraged by what she has seen, Magiere and Chap apparently slay Ubad before deciding to head north to find Neina, Leesil's mother whom he had once believed dead.

Book Review of Sister of the Dead.
The Noble Dead series grows more interesting. There are still many unanswered questions regarding Magiere's destiny as there seem to be at least 2 opposing forces attempting to make Magiere their ally. Neither side's motives have been explained but both have meddled greatly with Magiere's life, as demonstrated when Magiere was sired and Chap's pushing of Leesil into Magiere's life. And yet, neither side maybe absolutely wrong in what they believe about Magiere's nature. As Magiere discovered when Ubad attempted to coerce her into consuming the element of Spirit, she was in fact unable to do so. And it is these questions which continue to make the series interesting.

Another interesting aspect of the series is the role reversals between the male and female lead. In Sister of the Dead, Magiere is the hunter while Leesil is the nurturer. Often, Magiere is the one who fights the undead while Leesil is the one who keep her from giving in to despair over her nature.

Apart from that, the addition of Wynn makes Magiere and Chap's view of the undead creatures they fight seems at times too harsh. While Magiere is intent on denying any possible human emotions attributed to vampires, Wynn believes otherwise and the vampire Chane who has rescued Wynn twice because he cares for her seems proof of this. It certainly makes one wonder who is right in this case.

Links of Interest.

November 27, 2009


Dhampir (Noble Dead)Title : Dhampir
Author : Barb and J.C. Hendee
Reading Dates : 26 Nov - 29 Nov 2009

Book Summary of Dhampir

Magiere has a reputation as a formidable vampire slayer. However, only she and her half-elf partner Leesil knows that she's a fake. For years now since they first met, the duo have been swindling superstitious villagers out of their money with Leesil playing the vampire to Magiere's vampire slayer. Their only other companion being Chap, Leesil's pet dog.

What surprises Leesil is Magiere's announcement that she's had enough of life on the road and that her banker has just purchased a tavern up for sale in Miiska for her. Though reluctant at first, Leesil soon accepts Magiere's offer to join her in running the tavern. What neither of them expected to find was a Miiska plagued by a trio of vampires or the strange powers which enable Magiere and Chap to detect and wound them. So instead of running another vampire hunting con, the partners find themselves battling vampires for real and losing.

Although Magiere manages to kill or drive off the 3 vampires, this comes at a cost. Their new friend Brenden the blacksmith is dead, their home and source of livelihood burned down and Leesil bedridden for the next month at least. Most important of all none of their questions on their pasts or the motives for Magiere's creation answered.

Book Review of Dhampir.
Not the best vampire novel I've read but not the worst either. Neither Magiere nor Leesil's characters stand out. The only reason to read on is the curiosity factor. Why was Magiere created and why would a Noble Dead create a creature who could destroy his own kind ? Who is Welstiel Massing and what are his motives for helping Magiere ? What is Chap and why is it he can detect vampires ? It is these questions which keep the story interesting enough for me to want to read on.

Links of Interest.

November 21, 2009


Syren (Septimus Heap, Book 5)Title : Syren
Author : Angie Sage
Reading Dates : 21 Nov - 26 Nov 2009

Book Summary of Syren

Syren picks up immediately from the end of Queste. Septimus Heap gets an unexpected early promotion to Senior Apprentice by ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand since he is the first Apprentice to complete the Queste successfully. At the same time, Septimus's great-aunt Zelda breaks with the tradition of selecting females as Intended Keeper by nominating Wolf Boy for the position.

While completing his Task of stealing a piece of the Grim from the Port Witch Coven, Wolf Boy also rescues Simon Heap's girlfriend Lucy Gringe who was being kept prisoner by them. Unfortunately, they end up in worst trouble when they leap aboard the departing ship Marauder whose captain is in league with the troublemaking ghost of Tertius Fume.

Zelda prepares a live SafeCharm for Septimus Heap as a gift when she sees a vision of him in grave danger. The live SafeCharm which is actually a jinnee initially gets stolen by Merrin Meredith before it can be delivered to Septimus but does reach Septimus in the end when Zelda and the ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand recapture the freed jinnee Jim Knee.

Meanwhile, Septimus had earlier flown off on Spit Fyre to the Trading Post where he intends to pick up Jenna, Nicko, Beetle and Snorri. Once there, he finds them aboard the ship Cerys with Jenna's biological father, Milo Banda. Septimus flies back with Jenna and Beetle, leaving Nicko and Snorri to travel back on the Cerys. Unfortunately, they are caught in a storm and crashes on an island when Spit Fyre is struck by lightning.

On the island, Septimus meets Syrah Syara, the Senior Apprentice of ExtraOrdinary Wizard Julius Pike. She was marooned on the island 500 years ago while escaping from the Queste and had been Taken by Syren, a Possession Wraith. Syrah heals the dying Spit Fyre in exchange for Septimus's help. She warns Septimus that the Castle is in danger but is unable to tell him more for fear that Syren will read their thoughts. Before Septimus can do more, Syrah is taken again by Syren and Septimus has to flee.

Wolf Boy and Lucy soon join Septimus, Jenna and Beetle when they escape with Miarr, lighthouse keeper of CattRokk Light, from the Marauder and its crew. They exchange stories with Wolf Boy and Lucy telling off how Marauder's Captain Theodophilus Fortitude Fry and the Crowe twins stole the Light of CattRokk LightHouse and tried to murder them.

Septimus realizes that Syara's warning and the stolen Light are somehow connected but is frustrated when his friends dismiss his concerns and treat the events that have befallen them as a great adventure. It is only when the Cerys is grounded near the island due to the Syren's trickery that the group learns what has been going on. Captain Fry, Tertius Fume and the Syren are actually in league with each other. In exchange for providing passage for Tertius Fume to invade the Castle with an army of warrior jinn, Tertius Fume has promised to remove the Light which prevents the Syren from wrecking havoc on unsuspecting sailors.

All seems lost when Tertius Fume releases the army of warrior jinn stolen from aboard the Cerys until the timely arrival of Septimus's jinnee. Jim Knee who is a more powerful jinnee than the warrior jinns has no problems capturing the warrior jinns and the Syren. Thus, the Light and Miarr are restored to CattRock LightHouse, the Castle is safe again and Syrah is finally free to live her life once again.

Book Review of Syren.
This book is the most exciting read so far in the Septimus Heap series. Plenty happens along the way to the myriad characters and Septimus gains new allies and Magykal items in the form of Syrah and the jinnee.

Best of all, we see Simon Heap truly take steps to redeem himself when he warns Marcia early on of suspicious doings by Tertius Fume. At the end of the story, Marcia is shown to have forgiven Simon of his past wrongdoings and it is to be hoped that a full reconciliation among the Heap siblings is soon possible. In the past, although Simon has often said he wished Septimus had died as a baby, Lucy does not believe this is truly Simon's wish and in this story continually helps either Simon's little brothers. Perhaps we will see Simon himself doing the same in the future as he has proven to be rather knowledgeable on many things as Marcia learned.

On the other hand, with such a powerful creature as the jinnee on Septimus's side one wonders if anything could ever pose difficulty for Septimus again. It would be interesting to see what happens in the next book.

Links of Interest.

November 16, 2009


Septimus Heap, Book Four: QuesteTitle : Queste
Author : Angie Sage
Reading Dates : 17 Nov - 20 Nov 2009

Book Summary of Queste

6 months after Septimus Heap returns to his own Time and mixes the tincture of Everlasting Youth for Marcellus Pye, Marcellus finally starts to remember what happened to Septimus's brother Nicko and Snorri Snorrelsen who were trapped 500 years in the past. Marcellus tells them that Nicko and Snorri left for the House of Foryx where All Times Do Meet which was located in the deep forests of the Low Countries.

At the same time, Merrin Meredith formerly mistaken for Septimus and apprenticed to the late DomDaniel has returned to cause trouble for Septimus and his friends. Merrin recruits the help of Tertius Fume, the troublemaking ghost of the First Chief Hermetic Scribe. Tertius proposes to send Septimus on a Queste from which no Apprentice has returned for the past few centuries.

Septimus, Jenna and their friend Beetle manage to escape from the Wizard Tower and the Gathering of ExtraOrdinary Wizard ghosts. However, Septimus is tricked into accepting the Queste stone in the ensuing chaos.

With the help of their older brother Sam, they travel to the forests of the Low Countries via the Forest Way and proceed to make their way to the House of Foryx despite the frequent interference of the Thing sent by Tertius Fume.

Septimus, Jenna and Beetle are reunited with Nicko and Snorri once they arrive within the House of Foryx. Not only that, Septimus learns the true meaning of the Queste and the origins of the House of Foryx. Septimus learns first hand from the First ExtraOrdinary Wizard Hotep-Ra, that he created the House of Foryx and it was originally intended as a reward to the Apprentice who had completed their 7 year training, but it had unfortunately been twisted by Tertius Fume. Luckily, Septimus will be the last Apprentice who will need to go on the Queste as Septimus had got the last Queste stone.

Septimus and his friends then safely return home after contacting his master, the current ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand to come pick them up.

Book Review of Queste.
Queste unfortunately does not feel like much of Quest story. Although Septimus is on a Queste, for most of the book it feels as if he and his friends are simply "going with the flow" while attempting to find a way to reach Nicko and Snorri.

And there are loose ends to the story as well. Tertius Fume and Merrin Meredith are both unrepentant and do not get their just desserts at the end of the story. In fact, they are free to cause more havoc in the future. Beetle remains jobless after being unfairly fired by the Chief Scribe.

Then, there is Septimus's meeting with Hotep-Ra. This is after all the First ExtraOrdinary Wizard and he does not even spend any time trying to learn more about the magical items he has inherited like the Dragon Boat.

The only bright spot to the story seems to be Simon Heap's rehabilitation. Simon finally sees the error of his ways and is determined to redeem himself. Hopefully, this paves the way for a Heap family reunion.

Links of Interest.

November 14, 2009


Septimus Heap, Book Three: PhysikTitle : Physik
Author : Angie Sage
Reading Dates : 14 Nov - 16 Nov 2009

Book Summary of Physik

Silas Heap does not realize the trouble that will follow when he accidentally lets out the ghosts of Queen Etheldredda and her pet Aie-Aie from a Sealed Room. Soon the residents of the Castle start falling ill from a strange Sicknesse which no one knows how to cure. Then, Etheldredda's ghost tricks her descendant Princess Jenna into inadvertently sending her adoptive brother, Septimus Heap into the past.

Septimus finds himself 500 years in the past as the unwilling Apprentice to the Last Alchemist, Marcellus Pye who also happens to be the son of the then Queen Etheldredda the Awful. Marcellus needs the help of a 7th son of a 7th son in order to complete his tincture for both Everlasting Life and Everlasting Youth in order to prevent the terrible fate which awaits him. He is doomed to spend the next 500 years rotting as he drunk an incomplete tincture, and has Everlasting Life but not Everlasting Youth.

Meanwhile, a distraught Jenna who fears the worst after seeing Septimus disappear into the mirror in the Queen's Robing Room attempts to find Septimus using Spit Fyre after she is advised that dragons are able to find their Imprintors wherever they are. Spit Fyre's Seek brings Jenna and her brother Nicko to Warehouse Number Nine, home to Chief Customs Officer Alice Nettles, where they find another of Marcellus's Glass of Time. Jenna, Nicko and their new friends, the Spirit-Seer and Northern Trader 14-year old Snorri Snorrelsen and her pet Ullr a Night Creature and Spirit-Seer Cat, travel through the Glass and arrives 5 and a half-months after Septimus's arrival in Marcellus's time.

While searching for Septimus, Jenna is mistaken as the supposedly dead Princess Esmeralda and learns that Esmeralda faked her own death with the help of her brother Marcellus and then Keeper of the Dragon Boat, Broda Pye. Esmeralda did this to escape from her mother, Queen Etheldredda who intends to kill Esmeralda as she did Esmeralda's baby twin sisters.

Once Jenna, Nicko, Snorri and Septimus are reunited they attempt to escape through the Great Doors of Time in the Great Chamber of Alchemie and Physik. Unfortunately they are discovered and Jenna is almost killed by Queen Etheldredda. Jenna escapes but Etheldredda herself drowns.

Septimus strikes a bargain with Marcellus with Septimus agreeing to create the tincture to give Marcellus Everlasting Youth once Septimus returns to his time. Septimus, Jenna and Ullr return to their own time but Nicko and Snorri is left stranded in the past when the Great Doors of Time become unstable.

In their own time, Septimus brews the tincture needed to cure those ill from the Sicknesse and Marcia gets rid of the troublesome ghosts of Queen Etheldredda and her Aie-Aie.

Book Review of Physik.
Physik is not as interesting as the first 2 books in the Septimus Heap series. Much of the story is spent telling of the experiences of Septimus's family and friends as they attempt to piece together what has happened to him, finding and rescuing him. We do not know much of Septimus's experience during his months spent lost in the Past. Though, the book is titled Physik and it is this knowledge which Septimus gains during his time with Marcellus and the means which he saves those ill from the Sicknesse, we actually do not read much about it. We are merely told that Septimus learns this knowledge from Marcellus and how he saves the inhabitants of the Castle at the end. Though this is set in a Magykal world, as Septimus says Physik is different from Magyk. One wonders how is it that Septimus becomes such a great Physician in a matter of months. And another thing, it seems rather out of character that Septimus who has proven himself to be rather loyal in the past does not seem too grief-stricken that his closest brother, Nicko is trapped in the past. Overall, not my favourite book in the series but a necessary read if we are to continue with the story.

Links of Interest.

November 11, 2009


Flyte (Septimus Heap, Book 2)Title : Flyte
Author : Angie Sage
Reading Dates : 11 Nov - 14 Nov 2009

Book Summary of Flyte

Simon Heap ran away from his family in a fit of jealousy when his youngest brother Septimus was accepted as Apprentice to the current ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand. He forms an alliance with the recently killed evil Necromancer DomDaniel. In return for Simon's help in resurrecting and restoring DomDaniel to his position as ExtraOrdinary Wizard, DomDaniel accepted Simon as his Apprentice.

A year and a half after Simon ran off, he returns to kidnap his adoptive sister, the Princess Jenna. The only one who seems to believe Septimus's word is his older brother Nicko. As they do not know where their eldest brother has taken Jenna, the 2 pay a visit to Camp Heap as they hope Wolf Boy, a boy living wild in the forest whom their other brothers befriended, can help them to track Jenna.

While at Camp Heap, they are also taken to visit Morwenna Mould, Witch Mother of the Wendron Witches Forest Coven, who advises them that they will find their sister at the Port. Trusting to Morwenna's Second Sight, Nicko, Septimus and Wolf Boy set off to the Port. As they start their journey, Wolf Boy reveals he was formerly known as Boy 409 in the Young Army and Septimus's best friend then whom he believed dead.

At the Port, the brothers are reunited with Jenna who has escaped from Simon. However, both Simon and a tall, dark stranger are still on Jenna's trail. The group make their way to the Marram Marshes in order to seek refuge with Zelda Heap as well as fulfill Jenna's requisite yearly visit to the Dragon Boat on MidSummer Day.

They make in time but the Dragon Boat tells Jenna to ask Septimus to bring her to a safe place as a Darke One is coming. Besides this, Septimus also learns that the green rock Jenna gave him as a gift is actually a dragon egg when it hatches and Imprints on him. Septimus names the baby dragon Spit Fyre.

Septimus, Nicko, Jenna and Spit Fyre return to the Castle aboard the Dragon Boat. Back at the Wizard Tower, Septimus and Jenna discover and foil Simon and DomDaniel's plot to put a Personal Placement on Marcia. Although DomDaniel's skeleton is apparently destroyed, Simon escapes again. But Simon loses the Ancient Flyte Charm to Septimus and almost destroys the Dragon Boat as well during his escape. Due to this, Septimus gains the ability to fly while Jenna discovers the Queen's Room which has a magical door to Keeper's Cottage in the Marram Marshes.

Another bonus is the return of Milo Banda, Jenna's biological father. Distraught upon hearing of his wife and daughter's supposed murder, Milo had left the Castle only to be captured and held captive by pirates for several years. He had only escaped a year ago and returned when he heard the rumors that his daughter was in fact alive.

Book Review of Flyte.
Flyte retains the charm first found in Magyk. Again the best part of Septimus Heap's series is the sense that everything will turn out well in the end. No matter what ills befall our young hero and friends, there is always a silver lining. When Septimus and Nicko is in danger of being eaten by wolverines in the Forest, they are saved by their grandfather Benjamin Heap who had shape-shifted into a tree long ago. When Spit Fyre destroys the ShadowSafe meant to remove Marcia's Shadow, they discover instead the plot to put a Placement on Marcia and thwart it. When Simon harms the Dragon Boat, Jenna's desperation to save the Dragon Boat leads her to find the Queen's Room. And along the way we are introduced to more of Septimus's magical world of friendly ghosts, mischievous baby dragons and flying ships. And so, I'm off to read the next book in the series.

Links of Interest.

November 5, 2009


Magyk (Septimus Heap, Book 1)Title : Magyk
Author : Angie Sage
Reading Dates : 5 Nov - 10 Nov 2009

Book Summary of Magyk

Silas Heap stumbles upon an abandoned baby girl the same night he is told by the Matron Midwife that his newborn 7th son has died. Silas and his wife Sarah adopt the baby girl, pretending she is their own child and name her Jenna. A few months after taking in Jenna, Sarah and Silas find out that she is their missing Princess who disappeared on the same day the Queen and ExtraOrdinary Wizard Alther Mella was murdered.

10 years later, the Queen's murderers discover the whereabouts of the missing Princess. Alther Mella's ghost who has been spying on The Supreme Custodian warns his successor, the current ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand. Marcia seeks out the Heaps and convinces them to flee while she takes Jenna under custody.

Returning to the Wizard Tower, Marcia and Jenna finds the young sentry Boy 412 almost frozen to death. Marcia saves him and brings him back to her rooms to heal. A few hours later Silas and his 6th son, 12 year old Nicko shows up at Marcia's place after sending the rest of his family off. Silas is determined to remain and protect Jenna. Unfortunately the Assassin appears at about the same time and the 5 are forced to flee.

The 5 sail off on a boat with a Hunter and his Pack hot on their trail. As the group continue to flee to Silas's Aunt Zelda's home in the Marram Marshes, they learn that DomDaniel, the ExtraOrdinary Wizard before Alther has taken over control of the country. Years ago, Alther had wrested the position of ExtraOrdinary Wizard from the Necromancer DomDaniel when he realized that DomDaniel had offered Alther as a sacrifice in an Incantation using Darke Magyk.

More bad news follows shortly after they arrive at Aunt Zelda's home. Sarah sends a Message Rat informing Silas that their eldest son, 18-year old Simon has gone missing as well. Concerned, Silas decides to join Sarah and look for Simon. His search for Simon leads Silas back to The Castle where he learns from Alther that Simon has been captured and is in the hands of The Supreme Custodian.

At the same time, Stanley the Message Rat returns to the Castle to find out that The Supreme Custodian has taken over the Rat Office and he is forced to bring a false message to Marcia in order to lure her into a trap. After Marcia is captured, Jenna and her companions find DomDaniel and his Apprentice at their doorstep as Simon has betrayed their whereabouts. Luckily, they manage to turn the tables on DomDaniel when they awaken the Dragon Boat of Hotep-Ra. The Dragon Boat recognized Jenna as the Queen and Boy 412 as her new Master and aids them in turning the tables on DomDaniel and rescuing Marcia as well.

With all restored, Boy 412 accepts Marcia's invitation that he become her Apprentice. In exchange for 7 years and 1 day of service, Marcia helps Boy 412 to find out his identity. To everyone's surprise, Boy 412 turns out to be the supposed dead Septimus Heap and is now reunited with his family.

Book Review of Magyk.
What I liked about Magyk is the world in which Septimus Heap lives. Although there isn't much mystery as to the true identity of Septimus Heap even at the start of the story, the fun lies in the the way the story is told. The Heaps as a family are a loving, courageous and noisy lot. They opened their hearts and home to an abandoned child unreservedly and even when the boys are told Jenna is not their sister by blood, none of her brothers love her any less. Marcia who can be quite and arrogant in her behaviour to other adults is not only persistent but understanding of Septimus's hesitation in accepting her request to be her Apprentice. Then, we have characters like Jenna's pet rock Petroc Trelawney, the Boggart, Shield Bugs and the Dragon Boat which gives Septimus Heap's world its own identity. Best of all is the way the story gives the feeling that everything is going to turn out well eventually even in the worst of situations.

Links of Interest.

November 2, 2009

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4)Title : Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth
Author : Rick Riordan
Reading Dates : 3 Nov - 4 Nov 2009

Book Summary of Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth.

On Percy's orientation tour to Goode High School where his mother's new boyfriend Paul Blofis is teaching, Percy is forced once against to battle monsters. Percy escapes the empousa only with help from a mortal, Rachel Elizabeth Dare whom he first met at Hoover's Dam last winter while escaping from Atlas's zombies. However, Percy is forced to cancel his planned date with Annabeth and make for Camp Half-Blood instead. Percy and Annabeth travel back to Camp as Percy's attacker had indicated that Luke was planning an invasion on Camp Half-Blood and his fellow summer campers maybe in grave danger.

Back at Camp, all appears well though there is a sense of impending doom. The number of campers had dropped as Half-Bloods have been either killed, turned traitor or disappeared in the last 3 years. There's also a new sword instructor, a mysterious Half-Blood calling himself Quintus with a hell hound named Mrs O'Leary for a pet. Then, Percy gets a strange call showing him young Nico di Angelo listening to the advice of a ghost as he attempts to find a way to resurrect his sister Bianca.

As the campers ponder how Luke intends to attack, Percy and Annabeth stumble over one of the entrances to the Labyrinth in the midst of their camp. With this the campers surmise that Luke intends to bring his forces in through the Labyrinth and they must start a quest to prevent Luke from finding a way to navigate the maze. At this point, Clarisse reveals that she was actually sent by Chiron on a secret mission to investigate the Labyrinth and Annabeth had been recruited to help her. Chiron had guessed that Luke was sending scouts into the Labyrinth when Clarisse found a half-mad Chris Rodriguez, a traitor Half-Blood, though they could not guess Luke's reasons for it earlier. Annabeth with her knowledge of architecture is proposed as the best person to lead the quest.

After consulting with the Oracle, Annabeth breaks the rules and names 3 companions instead of 2 for the quest. Grover who has been given 1 week to find Pan or forfeit his searcher's license, Tyson on vacation from the Cyclopes forges under the ocean and Percy. Percy quickly realizes Annabeth has not revealed everything the Oracle foretold to her at the start of their quest but is unable to get her to explain further.

As the 4 continue to travel hopelessly lost in the maze, they receive unexpected advice from Hera and decide to seek out Hephaestus. Along the way, Percy meets up shortly with Nico again but Nico refuses to forgive Percy despite Bianca's ghost advising him to do so.

Hephaestus agrees to help the companions find a way to the creator of the Labyrinth, Daedalus in exchange for their help. Someone has been using his forge on Mount St. Helen's but every time he tries to investigate they disappear. Since none of the 4 are gods, Hephaestus hopes that they will be able to discover the truth before being detected. On the way to Hephaestus's forge, Grover finds a clue to Pan's whereabouts and in order not to loose time chooses to abandon their quest. Tyson volunteers to go with Grover to provide him with protection.

Annabeth and Percy find Hephaestus's forge being used by Kronos's minions and in escaping Percy and Annabeth are separated. Percy accidentally blows up Mount St. Helen's when attempting to evade his captors and winds up on Calypso's island. Hephaestus finds Percy later as Annabeth had managed to escape and inform him what had happened. He reveals to Percy that to navigate the Labyrinth they need the help of a mortal who has the ability to see through the Mist and thus will not be confused by the Labyrinth's ability to confuse invaders.

When Percy then rejoins Annabeth at Camp Half-Blood, he finds out from Chiron that Quintus has disappeared and suspects that Quintus is Luke's spy. Percy and Annabeth then seek out Rachel Elizabeth Dare and enlist her help in order to continue with their quest.

As they travel through the Labyrinth, the 3 are captured by Luke and Antaeus, another of Poseidon's sons. Antaeus forces Percy to participate in a pankration, a fight to the death with other fighters. Percy kills Antaeus and rescues his 2 companions as well as another Half-Blood, Ethan Nakamura. They escape when Percy calls upon Mrs O'Leary using a special whistle Quintus gave him at the start of their quest.

Rachel successfully guides Annabeth and Percy to the heart of the Labyrinth where Daedalus's workshop is. Here, they unexpectedly meet Quintus who reveals he is actually Daedalus and he has escaped death by continually transferring his soul into automaton bodies. Quintus is in fact his fifth body. He had come to Camp Half-Blood to decide which side he would help in the war between the Titans and Olympus. However, Percy and Annabeth are now too late. He has given Ariadne's string to Luke thereby granting him the means to navigate the Labyrinth and attack Camp Half-Blood. In return, Kronos has promised to make him the Lord of the Underworld once the Olympians are overthrown and reunite him with his beloved dead son, Icarus. As Percy and Annabeth attempt to reason with Daedalus, Luke and his army show up with Nico as a hostage. Luke orders his soldiers to attack them, including Daedalus. Daedalus finds that he himself has been betrayed. Surrounded, Percy, Annabeth, Rachel and Nico escape using Daedalus's invention to fly out of the Labyrinth.

Realizing that the quickest route to return to Camp Half-Blood is via the Labyrinth, they return later. En route, they first encounter Kronos who has somehow returned by taking over Luke's body. It is only Nico's powers which allows the group to escape from Kronos. Traveling further, they come across Grover and Tyson in front of the lost god Pan's cave. Pan charges Grover to tell the satyrs that he has indeed died. All that is left is but a remnant which must soon disappear. It will be up to everyone to save the wild, no one god can do it now. Once Grover accepts Pan's words, he disappears.

Rachel leaves the group after guiding them back to New York. The rest then journey on to Camp Half-Blood where the campers are preparing for battle. When Luke's forces finally come through, the campers are almost overrun. It is only with the help of unexpected allies that the Battle of the Labyrinth is won. Nico, Daedalus, the Hundred-handed One Briares and Pan's gift to Grover each help to turn the tide of the battle.

Although the battle was won, many of the campers were killed. Dionysus returns with further bad news that many of the lesser gods have chosen to side with the Titans. The satyr's council is also broken as a few refuse to believe Grover's words on Pan's death and considers him a traitor. The one bright side is the destruction of the Labyrinth. As the Labyrinth is tied to Daedalus's life force, he offers his life to Nico as redemption for past misdeeds. With Daedalus's death, the Labyrinth is destroyed and thus Luke's army will not be able to attack again the same way.

Returning home after summer camp, Poseidon visits Percy on his 15th birthday and warns Percy to take care as Typhon, a Titan imprisoned beneath Mount St. Helens is stirring and is likely to attack New York upon waking. Nico too shows up unexpectedly later with a possible proposal to defeat Luke and Kronos.

Book Review of Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth.
I enjoyed this fourth book in the Olympian series. Percy is as interesting as ever and there are many unexpected twists to this story. I had a feeling that Nico would turn out to be one of the good guys, but not his role in Annabeth's quest. Nico saved Percy not once but twice. He also bought the campers time in Camp Half-Blood. Yet, there is something tragic about it. As the son of Hades, he must find his path alone without the help of others unlike other Half-Bloods. Hopefully things will turn out better for Nico in the end. Happy endings are always best.

Links of Interest.

November 1, 2009

Percy Jackson and the Curse of the Titan

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3)Title : Percy Jackson and the Curse of the Titan
Author : Rick Riordan
Reading Dates : 1 Nov - 2 Nov 2009

Book Summary of Percy Jackson and the Curse of the Titan.

When Percy, Annabeth and Thalia respond to Grover's call for help, Grover tells them that he has found not 1 but 2 Half-Bloods. Siblings 12-year old Bianca and 10-year old Nico di Angelo are Half-Bloods though they don't know it yet. Although Grover has found them, he has realized that the Vice-Principal of the school where brother and sister are studying is actually a monster and about to attack them at any time. The rescue attempt goes awry at the last minute when Vice-Principal Thorn realizes what they are up to. Although Percy and gang manage to rescue the new Half-Bloods with the goddess Artemis' and her Hunters' help, Annabeth is captured by Thorn and disappears. And when Bianca pledges herself to Artemis instead of joining the Half-Bloods, Annabeth's sacrifice seems even more fruitless.

After listening to Percy and Bianca's description of their encounter with Thorn, Artemis becomes convinced that a great threat to Olympus is awakening and that she alone must go on a hunt for an ancient monster. Although she sends her Hunters back with the Half-Bloods to Camp Half-Blood, both Percy and Artemis's lieutenant Zoe Nightshade soon have dreams which convinces them that Annabeth and Artemis are the prisoners of Kronos's General.

A decision is taken for a group of 5 people, 3 Hunters and 2 Camp Half-Blood campers to go on a quest to rescue them. Percy however is excluded as the Hunters are adamant that no boy joins them. In addition, Chiron considers it best that Percy and Thalia do not go on the quest together as they each do not seem to be able to cooperate.

As usual Percy of course chooses to disobey Chiron and Dionysus's orders. Percy promises Nico that he will protect Bianca while on the quest and secretly follows the group sent on the quest. When he finds the group being led into a trap, Percy helps them to escape. Due to this, Zoe accepts Percy into their group grudgingly. The Oracle had predicted that a group of 5 would go on the quest, but one of the Hunters had been unexpectedly poisoned before the quest and was not able to join them. With Percy, the group have the necessary 5 predicted. As their group race to find Artemis and Annabeth while evading monsters, they are given unexpected aid by Apollo, Aphrodite and Athena.

In the end, although they successfully rescue Artemis and Annabeth, 2 of their number are sacrificed. Zoe is killed by her father, Atlas who is also the General of Kronos' army while Bianca disappears while helping the group escape Talos, one of Hephaestus's defective creations.

Fearing a prophecy which foretells of a hero, a child of either Zeus, Poseidon or Hades, who may bring about the destruction of the Western civilization when reaching the age of 16, a few of the gods propose killing off both Thalia and Percy despite their recent heroic deeds. Thalia who would turn 16 the next day chooses to accept Artemis's offer to join her Hunters as her new lieutenant. Thus, as an immortal she will never reach the age of 16. In turn, Poseidon vouches for Percy and with the support of the majority of the gods Percy avoids death.

Returning to Camp Half-Blood, Percy however finds another candidate for the prophecy. When Nico lashes out at Percy upon hearing of his sister's death, Percy realizes that Bianca and Nico are Hades's children. Percy enlists Annabeth and Grover's help to find Nico when he disappears but are unable to discover where he went. Feeling guilty for failing to keep his promise to Nico, Percy makes Annabeth and Grover promise not to reveal the truth of Nico's identity to anyone. Percy vows to ensure that he is the subject of the prophecy when he turns 16 in 2 years time.

Book Review of Percy Jackson and the Curse of the Titan
A better read than Sea of Monsters but still not as good as Lightning Thief. The characters of course keep the book interesting. Percy's views regarding the gods, monsters and various other myths are sometimes quite hilarious. And though Percy maybe a troublemaker, we learn here that he's actually a softie like his father. Percy has become a sort of conservationist with the creatures of the sea seeking out Percy for help regularly. And although Percy may grumble, he never refuses. Poseidon too cannot help but offer his protection to a sea creature even one which could possibly cause the destruction of Olympus.

On the other hand, I was able to guess many of the mysteries or secrets to be unveiled at the end of the book quite accurately. After Bianca killed the zombies easily when the others could not, I immediately guessed that she and Nico would turn out to be Hades's children. When the Ophiotaurus that Percy saved earlier turned up unexpectedly during their quest, I had a strong suspicion that this was actually the monster which posed a threat to Olympus. Knowing the unexpected kinds of robs the story of some of its fun when the surprise is sprung. Still, I wouldn't miss it. Even in the midst of danger, Percy's thoughts keep the story amusing and enjoyable.

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Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2)Title : Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
Author : Rick Riordan
Reading Dates : 31 Oct - 1 Nov 2009

Book Summary of Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters.

For the first time ever, it seems as if everything is going Percy Jackson's way. He's on his last day of 7th-grade and he hasn't been expelled yet. No monsters are after him and the day after he's going back to his favorite place in the world, Camp Half-Blood. Things of course aren't always this easy for Percy. Suddenly, he's battling a gang of cannibal giants with new friend Tyson in their school gym. Just when Percy thinks they're done for, fellow Half-Blood Annabeth appears and saves them. Percy doesn't even get to go home or say goodbye to his mom before he's off to Camp Half-Blood again.

Immediately upon their arrival, they find some of the campers led by Percy's tormentor, Clarisse fighting monsters on the borders of the camp. Percy and Annabeth manage to save Clarisse and the others with Tyson's help. The barrier which protects the campers have been compromised. The pine tree, which Thalia was turned into after she sacrificed herself to save her fellow Half-Bloods is dying. And this means, that Camp Half-Blood is no longer the safe haven it was. More troubles follow as Percy's been having dreams of his best friend, Grover in danger and now he learns his new friend Tyson, is actually a Cyclops. And that means that Percy has a monster for a half-brother. Whatever allies Percy have seems to be abandoning or turning against him. Chiron and Argus have been fired for failing to protect Camp Half-Blood and most of the other campers have turned against Percy because of Tyson. Even Annabeth seems to hold a deep prejudice against Percy's Cyclops half-brother.

When Percy and Annabeth make peace and request for a quest to save Camp Half-Blood, the task is given to Clarisse instead. Thus, Percy and his friends find themselves in danger of being expelled from Camp Half-Blood when they decide to go on the quest without permission, with a little goading and assistance from Hermes. They meet and fight Luke again as well as a host of other monsters on their way to the Sea of Monsters before finally retrieving the Golden Fleece and rescuing Grover. Unexpectedly, when they arrive back in the mortal world, Percy lets Clarisse return to Camp Half-Blood with the Golden Fleece on her own.

Percy's generosity proves to be a boon. When Luke catches up with them, he doesn't realize that Clarisse has left with the Golden Fleece at first and thus is delayed by Percy and his friends. Percy uses this opportunity to clear Chiron's name and is rewarded when Chiron leads his centaur relatives to save Percy's group from Luke's monsters.

Arriving back at Camp Half-Blood, everything seems to return back to normal. The protection of the border is restored and his animosity with Clarisse remains. That is until everyone realizes Kronos's real intention. He had intended all along for Percy to have the Golden Fleece because with this Thalia is restored to her human form and Kronos has another chess piece in his game against the Greek Gods.

Book Review of Percy Jackson and the
Sea of Monsters.
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters isn't as good a read as The Lightning Thief. This is largely in part because of the confusion arising from too many monsters. One can hardly keep track much less pronounce most of the names appearing, Laistrygonians, Colchis bulls, Stymphalian birds to name a few. What keeps the story interesting is the way the author changes our expectations. Tyson maybe a Cyclops but he's a very lovable Cyclops. Even Clarisse the bully has her good points like courage and loyalty. With the restoration of Zeus's daughter Thalia, it would be interesting to see if she is friend or foe to Percy.

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