The Mark of Athena: The Heroes of Olympus, Book 3

Common Sense Media says

Seven demigods in one sweet ride are off to save Rome.





What parents need to know

Educational value

This is the second in the series to deal with both Greek and Roman gods and their demigod children. There are more comparisons between the Roman and Greek aspects of each god and minor gods such as Nemesis, Arachne, and Achelous get cameos while their ancient myths are explained. There's also a handy glossary in the back to help keep names and Greek/Roman terms straight. Also consistent with the series: a quest where demigods visit real places. Facts about the Civil War come up in Charleston (mixed with a little god lore), and real Rome landmarks are explored.

Positive messages

Certain themes resonate throughout the series, such as friendship, loyalty, and trust, and that people with diverse backgrounds need to learn to work together to defeat a common evil. Believing in yourself, facing your greatest fears, and rising to meet extreme challenges are also important -- this is a series about heroes, after all. Specific to The Mark of Athena is the danger of too much pride and vengeful thoughts.

Positive role models

Percy and Jason are both born leaders and have a potential to really butt heads; instead they learn to combine forces to defeat enemies. Percy and Jason also hand the leadership over to Annabeth who proves to be very capable and brilliant, as always. Piper may be a daughter of Aphrodite, but it's her bravery and not her "charmspeak" and looks that save her life. Poor Leo is chided by Nemesis for being the "seventh wheel," and begins to despair about being surrounded by couples but still throws all his ingenuity and skill into his amazing ship and in helping the quest succeed.


The seven demigod heroes do lots of fighting against all manner of fantastical creatures. The ship Argo II flies and floats, so they're attacked by air and by sea continuously. The biggest battle is against giants, and the scariest is against a giant spider. A demigod hacks off a god's horn. One demigod trapped in a bottle as bait has days to live and the giants who kidnapped him threaten to destroy all of Rome and then the world. There are plenty of injuries, including a sprained ankle and concussions that are healed more quickly with ambrosia, plus possession by spirits (eidolons) that cause demigods to fight each other.


More kissing here than in previous books because Percy and Annabeth (both 17) are together again and Jason and Piper (16) are still a couple. Percy and Annabeth get in trouble with their chaperone Coach Hedge when they fall asleep talking after hours.


Demigods in danger often shout "gods!"


Lots of quick mentions of products like Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Kool-Aid, and iPhones and a great plug for the movie Roman Holiday.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The Roman wine god Bacchus appears but drinks Diet Pepsi, and his Greek form Dionysus drinks Diet Coke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Mark of Athena is the third in The Heroes of Olympus series that spun off from the uber-popular Percy Jackson series about teen demigods (one Greek or Roman god parent) on quests to save humanity from ancient monsters still at large in the world. Rick Riordan combines plenty of action and danger (usually not gory but sometimes scary) mixed with lots of humor and learning. As in Book 2, The Son of Neptune, there are more comparisons between the Roman and Greek aspects of the gods, but in this book readers will also get a mini-tour of Rome. There's a little more kissing in this installment -- Percy and Annabeth are back together (at last!), and they get in trouble with the ship's "chaperone" Coach Hedge when they fall asleep talking after hours.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Leo's amazing flying/sailing ship the Argo II arrives in New Rome (California) to greet Roman demigods in peace and friendship and reunite with Percy Jackson. Unfortunately, the peace and friendship part doesn't go so well. Leo gets possessed by some vengeful spirits and starts shooting fireballs everywhere, necessitating a pretty hasty exit with Percy and Romans Hazel and Frank. Now they have all seven demigods on board for the prophesied quest (plus the crazy satyr chaperone Coach Hedge), but they're also being chased by Romans across the country -- and they know where the Greek Camp Half-Blood is. There's no time for demigod infighting, though. The seven must follow the prophesy to Rome to save the world from certain destruction by garishly dressed twin giants. Luckyily for Camp Half-Blood, Annabeth has another quest as well -- searching for a symbol powerful enough to restore the rift between Greeks and Romans; a symbol only a child of Athena, like Annabeth, can find.

Is it any good?


Holding a fast-paced fantasy-quest-adventure together with seven different heroes that deserve almost equal weight has the potential to really weigh the story down. And yes, sometimes the action stops and readers will want to get back to their old pal Percy again.

But, overall, every hero takes a turn at being awesome. Near the beginning Leo's ruse against Narcissus is pretty hilarious. At the climax, Annabeth's trick against her particular nemesis (not giving anything away) is quite brilliant. In between, the rest of the adventures add up to another great quest fantasy fans will want to embark on.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how each demigod hero contributes to the quest. What do Percy and Jason realize about each other by book's end?

  • All the demigods have some pretty cool powers, but how often do the they use brains instead of brawn (or tidal waves or lightning or fireballs) to get out of sticky situations?

  • Are you excited about the next installment? Do you like book series or stand-alone books better? Why?

Book details

Author:Rick Riordan
Topics:Great boy role models, Great girl role models, Ocean creatures
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:October 2, 2012
Number of pages:608
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 11
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of The Mark of Athena: The Heroes of Olympus, Book 3 was written by

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Teen, 15 years old Written byAwalkeratCSM October 12, 2012

Riordan does it again and scores an awesome installment, while upping the maturity (Sorry about the super long review!)

Well, well, well. What do I say? I guess I can start off telling the CSM readers who are idly reading reviews for the pure fun of it (which is always so much fun) and have never read a "Heroes of Olympus" novel what on earth is going on: Percy and Jason have united the camps. The two most powerful demigods in the mythological world of Rick Riordan, each kidnapped from one of the militaristic camps for demigods and sent to the other, reunite the feuding camps to prepare them for a great war against the giants... ...till Leo ruins it all. In other words, he starts firing on the Romans' beautiful city of New Rome and pretty much destroyed their awesome cafeteria. They weren't too happy about it so, after Jason and Percy, along with their ever-loyal comrades escape, they are left with the threat of invasion by the vengeful Romans against their beloved Camp Half-blood, and the looming deadline of the destruction of the original citadel of Rome. Epic? Totally. Fast-paced? Now that’s a dumb question. Rib-cracking humorous – like the Riordan we know and love? Ha, ha! Love the characters? Piper needs some quality time, but of course we do; who can resist the quirky, silly charms of Leo, anyone? Got to say this: Riordan, and somewhat surprisingly, gets it again, even after I thought he was starting to lose his touch with “The Serpent’s Shadow” back in May. Maybe it’s because Greco-Roman mythology is pretty different from Egyptian, or maybe its simply because no one takes Percy’s gilded, ruddy crown of most awesome protagonist written by Riordan ever. Sorry Carter Kane! So anyways, Riordan’s writing is still sharp: sparkling, specific word-choice helps weave a story of loyalty, bravery, and wits while staying cool under the pressure of an apocalyptic deadline, as usual with Riordan, and sarcasm, puns, and inside jokes helps keep the reader laughing and becoming more attached to the slightly whimsical, deep characters – four of whom narrate the novel in intervals. The characters really pop in their own ways: Annabeth with her a little too-good-to-be-true brains, Frank with his reserved nature and awesome shape-shifting abilities, Jason with his steady and leading persona (though altogether he is overshadowed by Percy), Hazel with her supportive attitude, Piper with her calm attitude and… not much else, Leo with his comical, not to mention big, personality which keeps all the others from going insane, and, of course, Percy being Percy – sarcastic and loyal, with his quick wits about him. The plot is always quick-paced, though sometimes you feel that this isn’t supported by the disappointedly juvenile dialogue that takes place amongst the characters. It’s disappointing that the dialogue and some plot points can’t take on a deeper build and tone; I love the humor, but sometimes it gets the plot development off-track. And Narcissus! HA! HA! HA! Loved how Riordan incorporated this infamous myth into the story! In fact, it was so understandable and incredibly hilarious that I found myself thinking fondly of Riordan’s first novel, “The Lightening Thief,” which was his best. It was almost like he succeeded at making the standard once again just by weaving the myth into this installment. Totally, rib-cracking, “Percy Jackson”-approved hilariousness! I do have to agree with countless other, Riordan-crazed readers: seven’s a crowd. Giving adequate time and love to all seven of the demigods on the quest, along with a few constant minor characters like the karate-chopping Couch Hedge, is a challenge Riordan more or less failed to overcome. Also, there’s a barrier that Riordan can’t cross because of the young audience of readers that he likes to appeal to, which is he can’t go sentimentally deep into his characters. There were countless instances where I wished Riordan could have gone deeper into his characters thoughts, maybe even sounding like Victor Hugo while he did it, even subtly inserting his own opinion into the matter. These moments usually occurred in big characterizing moments, like when two demigods see a vision of the other’s past or Percy and Annabeth talk about their future together. I wish Riordan would have taken his time with these moments, slowed the story down, just so we could get to know these characters more. I’m a teenager, so obviously I find the Jason/Piper and Percy/Annabeth relationships very interesting (oh, I forgot about the mild Frank/Hazel thing going on. It’s not very memorable though.) And on those moments, when Piper’s thinking about her and Jason or Percy worries about Annabeth while she goes on a climatic, solo quest, I wish Riordan would dare to venture just a little further, just enough so that we don’t think that their relationships aren't that shallow, and, if they are, expose them to be so. But then I remember all those ten-year old fans of his, saying “We don’t care about that! We want Greek myths and action!” so many ten-year olds saying that they probably drown my voice out easy: too bad. When it comes to the violent content in the novel, the level of it is mostly the same as it has been with all of Riordan’s novels. Countless monsters are killed with the help of Greco-Roman weaponry and a few Celestial bronze modern devices, but always crumbling into dust and sometimes making a comeback later in the novel after they reform in Tartarus. There is a little more blood in this book than in previous ones - mostly because of injuries which are quickly healed later – but no bloody, wrenching deaths. Not yet. As far as sexual content, it’s brought up a notch in this novel. Percy and Annabeth kiss frequently, mostly after a battle or one of them saves the other (and may I note that it gets a little annoying, especially when you know they still have a battle to win and should save the romance for a more peaceful time) but the kissing is never graphically described, besides for Annabeth describing Percy’s lips as salty. In a more notable scene, sneaking out after hours, Percy and Annabeth fall asleep together, cuddling, after talking about the quest and their life together after the war. No, nothing bad happened – don’t totally freak out parents - but I do have to agree, I think this book should be labeled at +11. Piper, who’s involved with the strong-and-silent Jason, constantly analyzes her relationship with him, and there’s a petty feud between Leo and Frank over Hazel. Alcohol content: nothing to be worried about, if I remember right. In the context of language, the characters shout out “gods” when in stressful situations, but very little besides that. I just wanted to remark to parents of readers who are preteens that you keep in mind that little “Percy and Annabeth falling asleep accidentally in the stables” scene. Some preteens may be a little too young to understand what their glimpsing: the sometimes foolish things teenage couples will do together, and the relationship that Percy and Annabeth are developing –the things they talk about in that scene are really interesting, especially when Percy brings up having a life together, married with children, after the war is over. I think this would be an interesting conversation to mull over with your teenager, pointing out the elements that make up a functional, loving relationship between a man and a woman. This is, overall, an exemplary novel that I recommend readily to fans of Riordan’s books. The maturity of the novel has gently been raised, thanks in part to the maturity of the characters and their relationships with one another as well as the direness of the situations they are often in, but is still suitable fun for Riordan’s usual audience of excitable, preteen fans. The plot still excites and ends with a traditional cliff-hanger, or in this book heart-wrenching abyss-hanger, and the characters are bookmarked in one’s memory as beloved, quirky, and totally human, though one of their parents are usually a neglectful god or goddess. I give you a big warning though: it’s impossible to put down. (Ah, those minutes-before-midnight reading marathons!)
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written byGinganinja October 23, 2012

This isn't just for 10 year olds.

Hold it! Hold it! I just need to say something to all the teens looking at the mark of Athena reviews and going "oh it says it's for 10 year olds so it'll be stupid." I think this book is one of the few APPROPRIATE and INTERESTING books out there. It is rare when a story is both of those things. Yes, a ten year old could pick up this book and read it. I get that. But in fact, the ones who read Rick Riordan's books and are extremely excited for the new ones to come out are usually older than 10. I read Rick's 1st PJ book when, yes, I was ten. But now I am so engrossed by the world Rick has created. I get so much more out of it now that I am older. My point is that all of the PJ and H of O books are good for all ages ranging from 10 and UP! Look at me. I'm thirteen and obsessed with them.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Kid, 10 years old October 13, 2012

Amazing Book!

Everything I hoped for. I'm a huge PJO fan and this is perfect! It's so sweet and just wow. You should read it! The romance isn't a huge deal, and you really need Leo to keep yourself from going crazy. SPOILER: The scene in the stables was my favorite part and when they fell into Tartaus. Some kids might get confused about Hazel and Nico but it'll eventually get explained. Hera said that Percy's loyalty would be the death of him... and I'm starting to think she was right.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much consumerism


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