It’s time for a climax, complete with leg-crushing statues, aquatic cavalry, and not one but two last-minute side switches. In other words, it’s time for the 19th chapter of Michael Reads Percy Jackson: The Last Olympian…
We Trash the Eternal City
Well holy crap, that was a packed chapter! I suppose climaxes are like that, and I’m not complaining. My favorite part was seeing Typhon defeated. I’m a big fan of last-minute heroic reinforcements, and obviously I’ve got a thing for god-battles, so having Poseidon show up to put the final nails into Typhon’s coffin was a real pleasure to read. Putting the final nails into the coffin is how I’m interpreting it, by the way. Surely the uber-monster was already weakened from fighting half a pantheon all the way across the country. No sense playing with hubris and not giving the other gods their due credit! But Poseidon definitely turned the tide in dramatic fashion at the end there. And yes, pun fully intended. Deal with it.
I didn’t enjoy the other parts quite as much–I think that’s likely because Percy has never been my favorite character, and obviously he had to be front and center here–but it still played out quite well. I was sorry to see that Thalia got taken out by a statue of Hera, but glad Grover and Annabeth both made it to the final fight with Kronos, since from the beginning the story has always featured them alongside Percy. (And Grover is definitely the party’s bard, to make a quick D&D reference.) A quick aside about Thalia’s bit:
“It’s Hera,” Annabeth said in outrage. “She’s had it in for me all year. Her statue would’ve killed me if you hadn’t pushed us away.”
That’s the great thing about the Greek pantheon. Things are almost never so bad that the gods can’t get a little distracted by some nice petty grudges and try to crush someone with a statue. 😀 (At least she didn’t turn you into something hideous, Annabeth. Though I guess the book isn’t over yet…)
Ethan Nakamura got to play a small part here, turning on Kronos at the last moment. At first, that turn felt to me like it came too quickly, but then the story didn’t spend too much time with him personally, so he was possibly harboring some concealed regret that I just didn’t see. Then again, he’s flip-flopped before to where it’s kind of become a character trait. Maybe it’s the whole son-of-the-god-of-balance thing. (Upon a second look, Grover’s song also seems to have had something to do with it. Good ol’ Grover, messing with people’s minds until they behave the way he wants.) 😉
Granted, Ethan also got shut down pretty darned fast. I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him, rushing forward, suddenly the hero of the moment, only shatter his own sword and fall out of the narrative faster than you can say “This ain’t your story, kid!”
I did not see coming that Luke would be the one to stab himself and defeat Kronos, so definite kudos to Riordan for that. (Did you folks see it coming? Am I just dense? Let me know!) But that brings up an interesting question…
Luke gazed at Annabeth. “You knew. I almost killed you, but you knew…”
“Shhh.” Her voice trembled. “You were a hero at the end, Luke. You’ll go to Elysium.”
I realize Annabeth is biased, but is Luke really a hero at the end? I mean, the guy did actively work to get Kronos out and going around. Who knows how many people have died because of him. Does putting down the very evil he brought up make him a hero, or does it just make him a guy who realized his mistake moments before he’d have died anyway?
That’s really a debate that deserves far more space than it will get here. It makes for an interesting philosophical puzzle to mess around with, though, since it is a relatively common trope in fiction. (Note: I don’t use “trope” in a negative way here. Tropes are the tools with which we build stories, after all. Don’t you make me link you to TVTropes!) What do you think? Would it have made a difference if Luke had survived to be held accountable for his deeds rather than dying in the act? This is something I’ve often wondered about another famous sci-fi/fantasy character you might have heard of.
If Annabeth is right and Luke does go to Elysium, he’s going to run into a few other dead folks there who will likely want to have a few words with him…
Probably the best series climax Riordan has written so far (not that his other series have bad ones, this one just feels the most…well, climactic).
I guess the reasoning for Luke entering Elysium would be that he did ultimately save more people than he hurt, since the empowered Titans would’ve ended all of Western civilization; it may have been just a single action, but it was a good action that went a longer way than any of his bad ones, I guess.
I don’t remember foreseeing Luke sacrificing himself either, so we can both be dense together. 🙂