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The Son of Neptune is the second book in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, which follow on from the first five books in the Percy Jackson series.

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Percy, and his friends Frank and Hazel are racing against time to defeat the giant Alcyoneus who has risen in the godless lands of Alaska, and who is holding Death prisoner. Until death can be released, no monster can be killed successfully, and Percy and his allies are fighting a losing battle against Gaia, the earth mother who is determined to wipe both gods and demi gods from the face of the earth.

In the first of this series, The Lost Hero; Percy has disappeared from Camp Half Blood, and the Greek demi gods find Jason Grace, a Roman hero, who has lost his memory in his place. Jason must learn to trust his new friends and release Juno/Hera from the earthly prison Gaia has made for her before setting out for his old home, the Roman camp, Camp Jupiter. Meanwhile, Percy who has also lost his memory, is on the run from some gorgons who refuse to die, and finds himself at the gate of Camp Jupiter where he will learn of the next quest in the journey to defeat Gaia.

This has all the classic Riordan touches that make this series such a success with children, and such a delight to read. His grasp of ancient mythology is brilliant, and his way of updating it in a modern way, without losing any of the thrills and interest of the original stories is unparalleled. His humour is, as ever, fantastic. I particularly like the gorgons, who work at Bargain Mart, and even when they are trying to kill you, still insist on offering you free samples, and telling you the deals of the day.

Frank and Hazel are great, new characters, and joining the prophecy of seven, as they do at the end of the book, along with Leo and Piper, Jason, Annabeth and Percy means that we are really in for a treat with book three. Another new character, set to become a firm favourite is Ella the reading obsessed harpy, and her romantic involvement with Tyson at the end of this book filled me with absolute joy. I cannot wait to read on. This is a good job, as it is a book I have been sharing with my two youngest children, aged 7 and 10 respectively, and when we finished this book last night they rushed to the shelves to get the next book cued up for this evening’s reading.

I would recommend this to both boys and girls, aged about ten and up. If you have a particularly keen and fluent reader, particularly one who is interested in mythology, you could happily give it to a younger reader, but they must be confident, as the books are long and full of ancient terms and names which can be tricky to read, and which lesser readers will really struggle with.

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