The Lost God Speaks
Percy and everyone get the heck out of dodge and away from Kronos, reunite with Tyson and Grover, and reflect on their current situation, which Nico appraises concisely:
“That sucked,” he said, which I thought summed things up pretty well.
But the big thing in this chapter is, of course: Pan. Grover finds Pan. At last. I wish the chapter title hadn’t given it away, because it would have added just a little bit more magic to the situation. Having the feeling that it might very well be Pan they were about to find, but not being entirely sure, would’ve been fun. But no biggie, because it still worked quite well for me, as you can see in the notes I jotted down as I was reading:
I confess, I’m excited to see Pan, both because hey another god, and—primarily—given the rough stuff everyone just went through, the refreshment and beauty that’s building as they get closer is palpable, both from the physical descriptions and how it’s felt from the characters’ point of view.
The walls glittered with crystals— red, green, and blue. In the strange light, beautiful plants grew— giant orchids, star-shaped flowers, vines bursting with orange and purple berries that crept among the crystals. The cave floor was covered with soft green moss. Overhead, the ceiling was higher than a cathedral, sparkling like a galaxy of stars.
Isn’t that fantastic? Magical? Building with wondrous imagery the moment we’ve been waiting so long for Grover to find? And then the carpet’s yanked out from under my feet and everything’s painful again. Pan isn’t coming back. The wild places aren’t coming back. They’re dying, too far gone, and he can’t save them. “You must tell the satyrs, and the dryads, and the other spirits of nature, that the great god Pan is dead.”
As a reader, as a guy who likes Grover (this is going to destroy him), and as a guy who cares about the real world’s wild places and related to Grover’s search on that particular level of hope, even though this is just a story… Look, just tear my heart out and stomp on it, why don’t you, Riordan?
“Be strong,” Pan said. “You have found me. And now you must release me. You must carry on my spirit. It can no longer be carried by a god. It must be taken up by all of you.”
Ohhh. Okay, feeling a little better now. It’s the “no magical solution is going to come along, so everyone has to do their part” thing. Not quite so heart-rending, at least on the level of hope. Pan gives the message that safeguarding the world’s natural places (natural resources, ecosystems, etc., if you prefer) is something that everyone has to take on: Do what you can, save the wild places little by little, because that’s the only way it’s going to happen now.
I find myself wondering if Pan’s part of the Percy Jackson series is connected to any part of the overall plot, or is it just a side-element to give Grover’s character some motivation and, at this moment, provide a little environmental Aesop. I hope it’s the former, but I’d be okay with either. It’s not an unwelcome message, so far as I’m concerned. I have a soft spot for such messages, though I know that some portion of the population reacts in quite the opposite way at even a mention of the topic. (I once got a very, shall we say, cranky Amazon review on Zeus Is Dead complaining that I’d even dared to make a tiny mention of climate change at one point in the story. That mention was only a couple of sentences and also used for humor. That reviewer would surely be mortified to the point of apoplexy if he read this chapter.) 😀
Whichever it is, it still sucks for Grover, of course. Poor fuzzy guy. And speaking of unknowns:
Rachel flinched when he said her name. She backed up like she was guilty of something, but Pan only smiled. He raised his hand in a blessing. “I know you believe you cannot make amends,” he said. “But you are just as important as your father.”
What? Really not sure what to make of this one. But, intrigued! This would seem to indicate that the more mundane of my two theories about Rachel is not the proper one.
[Pan] closed his eyes, and the god dissolved. White mist divided into wisps of energy, but this kind of energy wasn’t scary like the blue power I’d seen from Kronos. It filled the room. A curl of smoke went straight into my mouth, and Grover’s, and the others. But I think a little more of it went into Grover. The crystals dimmed. The animals gave us a sad look. Dede the dodo sighed. Then they all turned gray and crumbled to dust. The vines withered. And we were alone in a dark cave, with an empty bed.