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Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan, is the penultimate volume in the second series of books about the hero Percy Jackson. I have been reading the entire series to my children, night after night, for months, and we have just finished this volume in time for the fifth and final volume (The Blood of Olympus) to land on the door step, hot from Amazon’s packaging warehouse.

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To say we are excited is an understatement.

I have reviewed every book in both series as we have read them, and they are all here if you use the search function on the blog’s side bar. There is not a duff book in the batch as far as we’re concerned. It has been a pleasure and a delight to read every one.

In this book, the seven demi-gods have finally found the Athena Parthenon, the statue that will supposedly unite both Greek and Roman demi-gods in their final battle against the rising of the earth goddess, Gaia.

The Athena Parthenon however, has been saved at a great price which sees Percy and his girlfriend Annabeth, daughter of Athena, hurled into the fiery pit of Tartarus, from which only Nico di Angelo, son of Hades has ever returned. The remaining demi-gods have to trust that Percy and Annabeth can battle through Tartarus and make it to the doors of death, which have been wedged open by Gaia’s evil forces, allowing all monsters, titans, giants and enemies of the Gods to respawn endlessly, and making them undefeatable.

Not only do Percy and Annabeth have to make it through, they also have to shut the doors, find a way back to their friends and release the doors on the mortal plane too. Their friends are sailing on the Argo II, a crazed, semi living ship made of magical metal, are trying to reach them across some of the most treacherous lands they have ever traversed.

It is a real page turner of a book, and has engaged my children at every level without fail, despite coming in at nearly six hundred pages long.

It is impossible to read these books out of order, so if you’re gripped by the idea of them, start with Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and hunker down for the series. Each book depends upon the other, and together they make a fabulous world in which Riordan brings to life ancient Greek and Roman myths in a modern and utterly endearing way. They are full of humour, pathos, sadness, and brilliant, brilliant adventures.

This second series is darker than the original series, as the characters grow up, so does the kind of adventures Riordan puts them through. There is more death, more love, more adult understanding of the world.

Having said that, there is never anything graphic in terms of sexual description, but be aware that homosexuality is touched on in this book, in a totally appropriate way, but if it isn’t something you want your child asking questions about, or something you think they can deal with, you need to be aware of it.

If you’re a fan already, you will love this. Suitable for boys and girls aged 11-16. Younger readers unless supremely confident will struggle with both the length and the language here. The books are full of Greek and Roman terms. There is a glossary with explanations and tips on how to pronounce words in the back if you need it.

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