Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Book V: The Last Olympian

By Rick Riordan

Blurb: “All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing that the odds of victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time. In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

Side note, that is a really bad blurb. I mean they’ve all been bad (except for TLT’s), but that one was especially long and wordy, and it gives a good chunk of the plot away.

My Thoughts: I won’t even lie to you, The Last Olympian is pretty damn amazing. If you’ve enjoyed the Percy Jackson novels even a little bit up to this point, you’re probably going to love this book. It just gets so much right, and is such a perfect conclusion to the series, that it’s sometimes genuinely hard to believe how well it sticks its landing. So now that you know my thoughts, let’s jump into the important thing, and discuss the why.

First of all, the conclusion of Percy’s hero’s journey is really good. I won’t lie and say that he has the most original character arc, or anything like that, but Riordan continually sprinkles little bits of Greek Mythology throughout to give it its own unique flavour. I was especially impressed by the use of the River Styx and the whole concept of the Curse of Achilles. It was a great nod to the Iliad and its surrounding myths, while also not being too over-powered in the story. Honestly though, after reading through four very good books of character progression, it just felt really satisfying to finally see him step up and be a leader. Percy’s arc has been the most consistent throughout this whole series, and it ends off on a particularly high note.

Another fantastic character in this one is Annabeth. After a bit of a stumble with her character in BotL, Riordan got his shit together and learned how to write teenage girls, and it shows. However, despite how well done the teenage melodrama was, the thing that really stuck out to me was how much of a fucking badass she was in this one. Cause god damn, she gets some absolutely stand out scenes. As does Rachel, actually. To my absolute shock, one of the newest and least fleshed out characters in the series got a really solid conclusion. I think her becoming the new oracle makes sense both from a plot and character perspective, and I thought everything led up to that really well. I could go on about the resolutions of existing character arcs, but I’d honestly be here all day. If a character was important in a previous book, they got some sort of resolution (even though Grover’s feels far less important here than the Pan scene in BotL). While I especially liked Nico’s, I also know that he’ll play a very large role in the sequel series, so I’ll hold off on discussing him here, so that I don’t look like an idiot to the people who’ve already read those books. From a recurring character perspective, there’s not really much more you could ask for in a finale. So many minor characters get these little moments, and they do so much to make this final book feel like a proper sendoff to the series without ruining the pacing or derailing the story.

However, what genuinely caught me off guard was that there were several new characters who got to have the spotlight for the first time, and they also got compelling moments and resolutions. I absolutely loved Hestia’s contribution to the story. PJO tends to focus on big important gods, so it was nice to see someone as simple as the Goddess of the Hearth get the spotlight for a time. Also, Silena Beauregard got a really neat arc that I genuinely didn’t expect. Have you noticed that I really dug the characters in this one? Riordan really pulled out all the stops for it. God, I love this book so damn much. Alright, it’s time for me to talk about what was probably the biggest surprise for me going into this one. LUKE IS ACTUALLY A CHARACTER! HALLELUJAH, I HAVE SUFFERED HIS PRESENCE THROUGH FOUR BOOKS, AND I FINALLY LIKE HIM AS AN ANTAGONIST! Takes a deep breath. So in this book, Riordan did the impossible, and managed to write not one, not two, but three antagonists that I like. Kronos is still as menacing as ever, Luke gets actual character traits for the first time since the ending of The Lightning Thief, and Prometheus is the cherry on top. But that’s enough about the characters.

I also think that TLO’s overall story works really well. It starts off with a bit of a time skip after BotL, and then from there it’s just everything building towards the conclusion. We visit both old and new locations, older characters and groups show up for the fight (Artemis’ Hunters, The Party Ponies, etc.), and it all just keeps building until we’re treated to what is unambiguously the best series of action sequences in the whole series. It’s a simple, yet satisfying story that delivers on everything you could possibly want as a fan. And then, just once you think it’s all over, we’re delivered what I would argue is the perfect solution. Percy makes one big choice, he turns down immortality, and he strikes a deal with the gods to fix a lot of the big issues that I’m sure many readers had with Olympus as they read the previous four books. He and Annabeth get together and share what is quite possibly the best kiss scene to ever be written in a series toeing the line between YA and children’s fantasy, and the story ends. The ending is honestly rather short, and I love it for that. So many finales drag on trying to resolve everyone and everything, and I think that Riordan absolutely made the right call by not doing that. That’s not to say that everything’s perfectly wrapped up, though, because we also get to hear the next great prophecy, setting up the possibility of more stories somewhere down the line (and I mean, we live in 2021, we know that he kept writing books in this universe after). I honestly also think that this creates a really nice compromise, where if you don’t want to read the sequels you don’t have to — this works as a good finale — but it also leaves enough open-ended for a potential sequel to work for fans that are interested.

Oh and this wouldn’t be a PJO review if I didn’t mention that Percy’s narration is fucking amazing! It never ceases to amaze me who good Riordan is at writing this character, but I once again have to mention that this series being first person is genuinely one of the best choices I’ve ever seen. It gives this entire series such a stylistic flare that makes them all — even the bad ones — an absolute delight to read.

Overall, The Last Olympian is everything I could have possibly wanted from a PJO finale. It gets so much right that it makes it incredibly easy to forgive any nitpicks I might have with it. It has stellar characterization, a suitably epic final storyline, some of the best action Riordan has ever written, and a supremely satisfying ending. In some ways, the ending is the most important part of a story, and The Last Olympian allows Percy Jackson and the Olympians to stick the landing better than any other series I’ve read in a very long time, and therefore, I cannot justify giving it any less than a 10/10.

Written on 09/08/2021

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