The return of Percy Jackson in “The Chalice of the Gods”

Two fans offer their thoughts on “The Chalice of the Gods” by Rick Riordan, a book that continues the story of Percy Jackson and promotes the upcoming TV adaptation.
Snakes and feathers swirl around a chalice.
Snakes and feathers swirl around a chalice.
Vera Tanas
Background information
Background information

On Sept. 26, 14 years after his last book in the series, Rick Riordan published the sixth book in the “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” (PJO) series entitled “The Chalice of the Gods.” In a blog post from Oct. 18, 2022, Riordan said the book was to accompany the upcoming Percy Jackson TV show on Disney+ as well as “move things along” in the show’s production. On the same day, he announced the release date on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The Chalice of the Gods” was published 14 years after the first five books of PJO, which ended in 2009. This big gap was due to the other series and spin-offs Riordan published during that time, such as “The Kane Chronicles,” “Heroes of Olympus” (HoO), “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard” and “The Trials of Apollo” (ToA). This makes the timeline of the story a little confusing. “The Chalice of the Gods” takes place after the first five books of PJO and all of HoO, but before ToA.

Percy is in his senior year of high school after a messy junior year and is working towards attending New Rome University. But the gods have something more in store for him, as they always do: to get into New Rome, Percy must get three recommendation letters from different gods by completing quests. Back at it again with Annabeth and Grover, Percy will embark on three more quests, not to save the world, but rather his education.

Annas review
Anna’s review

I am a fiend for the Percy Jackson series. I first read it in sixth grade and I’ve reread it about five times since. When the main story ended, I was crestfallen. So after hearing that there was a new book coming out, especially one that stars the original trio, I was dam excited.

Immediately after reading the first page, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia; the first line referenced the opening of “The Lightning Thief.” I had forgotten how much I loved and missed Percy’s sass and pop culture references to things like Shrek and himbos. 

Rick Riordan definitely knew that readers would feel that way, because the first few chapters were chock-full of references to the old books. That made it feel like an epilogue or a recap, which I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, the review felt heavy-handed, telling readers things that they likely already know. On the other hand, even I needed a reminder to jog my memory of plot points I’d forgotten.

It also felt like fanfiction since it was a late addition to a neatly finished story, but the book didn’t mess with the original plot while adding something new. And if I’m being honest, I desperately wanted more Percy Jackson content.

The story felt noticeably different from the old books, since the characters, author, and readers are all older. But it was still the comical Greek mythology story that I could devour in one afternoon, with a little more maturity.

— Anna Greenlee

Since we are all growing up, Riordan tackled topics that most high schoolers think about often: senior year, last summers and college applications. I got second-hand-stressed, and I’m only a sophomore.

This also evolved into a discussion of the passage of time, aging and maturing, which perfectly encapsulated the growth of the readers and characters. It prompted thought in a way that I wasn’t expecting from a middle-school-level book but was very welcome.

This depth didn’t take away from the laid-back vibe I got from the book. Especially compared to the final books in both PJO and HoO, there was a distinct lack of sadness, panic and chaos, to put it bluntly. There was still some action, but this was a nice break for both the characters and the readers, who are still traumatized from “The Mark of Athena.”

Overall, the book was a great way to re-immerse myself into the world of Percy Jackson. It reminded me of the feeling I had when I first read the books, even though the series and I were both older and different. I’m excited to see how the series will continue to grow in the next books and the TV show.

Veras review
Vera’s review

“Look, I didn’t want to be a high school senior.”

Rick Riordan’s return to the universe of Percy Jackson began in a way that paid homage to the original series and continued in a way that welcomed long-time fans while comfortably introducing new readers to the wonder that is Riordan’s writing. I myself am one of those long-time fans, having picked up “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” in my late elementary school years and proceeded to go on a Rick Riordan and Greek mythology deep dive. Five or six years later, I can still recount various myths from memory, all with Riordan and Percy Jackson’s hilarious and family-friendly touch.

When I first heard that a new book was coming out, I promptly called dibs on writing a review and told the whole West Side Story staff as such. Despite this, I was a bit nervous entering “The Chalice of the Gods.” It had been years since the world had seen the original trio of Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood together. Would the new book keep the same magic as the original series? As Riordan proves throughout “Chalice of the Gods,” it didn’t have to.

The book begins with, how else? A quest. Our favorite demigod is a high schooler in New York, just trying to finish his senior year. Percy hopes to go with his girlfriend, Annabeth, to New Rome University at Camp Jupiter in California, home to the Roman demigods. However, as usual, the gods have thrown a Celestial bronze wrench in those plans. Percy needs to obtain three godly recommendation letters to get into college, and he’s supposed to get them by completing personal quests for various gods.

The first god to request his help is none other than the cupbearer of the gods, Ganymede. He’s lost the chalice of the gods, which can grant any mortal who drinks from it immortality. Whoops. As Percy himself says, “Why do the gods keep losing their magic items?” Thus, Percy, Grover and Annabeth set off, and the trio is finally reunited. 

The book felt like catching up with old friends who you haven’t seen in a while over a coffee and remembering all of the fun you had together.

— Vera Tanas

One of my favorite parts of this book was the easter eggs placed throughout for dedicated fans. From throwbacks to Grover’s ill-fated adventures with flying shoes and reminders of the Lotus Casino to the use of podex as a way to keep the language clean (sorry to bring it up again Praetor Reyna) to, of course, blue food, fans are fed nuggets of callbacks to past events and jokes. While it might have felt a little too much for some, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book felt like catching up with old friends who you haven’t seen in a while over a coffee and remembering all of the fun you had together. It had a distinctly relaxed vibe, maybe because the world wasn’t on the line this time, maybe because our heroes were just tired of solving the gods’ problems at this point. To be honest, if I were Percy Jackson, I would be too. The teen has saved the world in two separate book series and has made cameos in plenty of others. The guy deserves his rest. 

“Chalice of the Gods” delivers another Percy Jackson staple in its pop-culture references and humor. Riordan compares the trio of Percy, Annabeth and Grover to Shrek, Fiona and Donkey, and the Powerpuff Girls. (Personally, Annabeth is Blossom, Percy is Buttercup and Grover is Bubbles. I will not be accepting criticisms at this time.) He mentions himbos and boomers and makes puns, all while staying away from “fowl language,” to use one of his jokes. The book genuinely made me smile and laugh, checking off one of my main hopes for the story. It hit its mark again by bringing lovable characters and personalities to the forefront. It may have been a little rough picking up with the trio after so long, but the book quickly hits its stride and eases you in nicely. 

“Chalice of the Gods” wins because it doesn’t try to make itself exactly the same as the first five “Percy Jackson and the Olympains” books.

— Vera Tanas

The book would always be a nostalgia trip for fans, and Riordan is well aware of this. One of the main themes of the novel is making peace with growing old and not trying to live in your youth forever. Ouch, Uncle Rick, right in the feels. However, this theme is perfect for a return to a world that holds a special place in the childhoods of many. Percy Jackson fans have been dragged down to Tartarus before by media trying to recreate the original magic of the series, as the first movie remakes left much to be desired. “Chalice of the Gods” wins because it doesn’t try to make itself exactly the same as the first five “Percy Jackson and the Olympains” books. It remembers them fondly but invites fans forward into the future, making peace with that while we can never return to those childhood days when we first started reading the series, we can embrace that we have grown and changed, and our beloved characters have done the same.

Conclusion: Anna and Veras final thoughts
Conclusion: Anna and Vera’s final thoughts

Many of our thoughts overlap, such as our enjoyment of the references to previous books and of the well-placed pop culture references. Both of us were also happy with how the book seemed more lighthearted than its predecessors but still managed to address the theme of the passage of time in a well-written way. Overall, we would highly recommend “The Chalice of the Gods” to anyone returning to the Percy Jackson universe or to someone yet to take their first steps into Camp Half-Blood.

 

Days until the airing of the PJO TV show
The show has already aired on Disney+
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