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Percy Jackson and The Titan’s Curse is the third book in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, after Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters.

You can find reviews of the other books in the series here and here.

The series is a modern reworking of the Greek myths set in America.  Heroes are known as half bloods, and are trained to go on quests at Camp Half Blood, a kind of supernatural summer camp run by Dionysus and Chiron the centaur son of Kronos.  Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon, the sea god.  In this adventure he must go on a quest with the hunters of Artemis, and his friends Thalia, daughter of Zeus, and Grover, a satyr, to try and rescue both Artemis and Percy’s friend, Annabeth, daughter of Athena.

The books really do need to be read in order, as although each novel contains a separate quest adventure, which is finished at the end of the book, there is an overarching adventure based on a prophecy which concerns a half blood hero, one of the children of the big three gods, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, which says that at the age of sixteen, one of these heroes will find the power to bring down Olympus.

Percy and his friend Thalia could both be responsible for this prophecy coming to pass, and the adventures are even more fraught with danger, as some try to turn them to the path of evil, and others just try to destroy them before they reach the age of sixteen.

This current book continues the story, revealing more of the prophecy and throwing a new twist into the tale in the shape of two new characters, Bianca and Nico de Angelis.

The plot, as ever, is pacy and exciting. There is plenty of action in every chapter, which keeps you turning the pages, and promising yourself ‘just one more chapter’, until you are too tired to read any more.

The characterisation is excellent. Riordan clearly has a great knowledge of his subject, and the way he brings ancient Greek mythology alive and makes it work in a modern American setting is superb.

Despite the fact that the action is fast paced, Riordan is very good at giving his characters and scenarios emotional depth, and making you feel for them as people.  This is particularly effective when they are pitted against monsters and immortals, who find humans tricky and their emotions annoying and fleeting.  It gives a sense of reality to what would otherwise just be a fast paced fantasy series.

They’re also pretty funny.

I am reading these books aloud to my six and ten year olds, both of whom love them. The six year old wouldn’t be able to read them alone, the Greek names and words of the ancient Greek ideas and stories are too complex for him, but he loves them.  My fourteen year old daughter has read them all, and the series that follows them.

I recommend them for confident readers of seven and over. They are quite violent in places, and can be pretty tough going in language terms, but they are also huge fun, and the effort might be worth it, if a child is really hooked on the idea of reading them, because they have seen the film, or they have already done some of the Greek myths at school, which might make the terms less alien.

I recommend them to both boys and girls, although Percy is the hero of the hour, there are some excellent girl characters and the girls get just as much of the fighting action, problem solving and quests as the boys.