Some character development for Dionysus, Percy visits Washington D.C., and we meet in person the Titan that I’m still betting is Atlas. Oh, and Percy’s in mortal danger. Or demigod danger. Or something. Also, kittens. All this and more in the ninth chapter of Michael Reads Percy Jackson: The Titan’s Curse…
I Learn How to Grow Zombies
Hold up. “Learn”? Hey, Percy, just because you see it done doesn’t mean you know how to do it. Sure, I saw an appendectomy done on TV once, but does that mean I learned how to do it? Not according to the American Medical Association and that ungrateful bastard’s team of lawyers, I didn’t! Sheesh, typical teenager.
But zombies later. For now, we start off with a little bit of background on Dionysus, after demonstrating that he takes running Camp Halfblood at least a little seriously in that he knows when Percy’s left it. It’s the whole, “Hey, don’t you think I couldn’t stop you if I wanted to!” gig.
So aside from being stuck away from Olympus on a 100-year dry spell away from his wife, he’s also forced to watch over future heroes, whom he hates. It’s a welcome bit of character background to round the guy out a little and explain some of his behavior beyond the surface. Not that Dionysus becomes less of a jerk for this (and I don’t get the feeling that the book wants me to like him more here, just to understand him more). One reason he’s down there is for chasing a nymph, so he’s not what you’d call the perfect husband. Plus angst doesn’t excuse being a dick to people just so he can push people toward being the same kind of jerks he expects them to be.
Oh, and by the way:
[Dionysus] was leaning against the building with his feet levitating in the air, his leopard-skin warm-up suit and black hair whipping around in the wind.
This is not my favorite mental image.
But then Dionysus lets Percy go, with the hopes that Percy will die. (Yay, morale-booster!) And soon we’re in the D.C. mall and finding out that Dr. Thorne isn’t as dead as I’d assumed he was. Seriously, I had to actually go back and re-read the end of chapter two, because I could’ve sworn he’d been offed instead of just having fallen off the cliff. (I need to read this book faster; I’m starting to lose things. Lousy brain.) But then, Percy had thought the guy was dead too, so I don’t feel so bad.
But, nope! Alive. Also, Luke’s here. And so are some Scythian dracaenae. And also a Titan general that I’m still pretty sure is Atlas. They’re all in the Museum of Natural History, and they’re there without attracting attention because Luke or Atlas has arranged for it to be a private event. This is actually quite considerate. Most antagonistic god-monster-demigod upstart triumvirates would kick open the doors, kill a bunch of people, and generally wreck up the place. This way, the Museum probably even earned a little extra cash from the space reservation fees.
So that’s nice.
Oh, except for the fact that they’re going to be sending some things to kill off the hunters and apparently intending to use Thalia as bait to catch the mystery monster:
The General turned to Luke. “The first thing we must do is isolate the half-blood Thalia. The monster we seek will then come to her.”
Wait, they’re looking for a monster? I’m so confused. I know Artemis was looking for one. I’d assumed said monster was already under Titan control, but I guess it’s just back in the world and it’s a race to kill the thing before the Titans can harness it for their purposes? At least, that’s my current take on things after reading this. (Please don’t tell me if I’m wrong, unless I’ve blatantly missed something that was already mentioned earlier in the book.)
Lastly, Riordan gives a nice homage to the myth of Cadmus and the dragon’s teeth, taking this little pit-stop to mess with my head:
“Behold, my ultimate killing machines.”
The soil erupted. I stepped back nervously. In each spot where a tooth had been planted, a creature was struggling out of the dirt. The first of them said:
It was a kitten. A little orange tabby with stripes like a tiger. Then another appeared, until there were a dozen, rolling around and playing in the dirt…
I laughed, then my heart stopped because I worried for a moment that, somehow, Riordan had come up with something similar to razorwings, a concept of mine from Zeus Is Dead that I’m really rather proud of. But then they were ridiculed and dismissed, so I was okay. I do wonder if we’ll see those kittens again before the end of the book, though. Hopefully they won’t have wings. Or spit poison. Or explode in showers of fire and peppermint candy.
But then we get the real ass-kicking dragon-toothed warrior-zombies. (Wait, were they zombies in the Cadmus story? I don’t think they were, but then that was Cadmus, and this is now. Nothing wrong with that.) And they can see Percy when he’s invisible. Also they’ve got his scent, so they absolutely will not stop, ever, until he is dead. I’m not yet sure if they don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear.
My favorite line(s) from this chapter are here, for giving me a mental image to get Dionysus in leopard print out of my head:
Thorn crossed the street and climbed the steps of the Museum of Natural History. There was a big sign on the door. At first I thought it said CLOSED FOR PIRATE EVENT. Then I realized PIRATE must be PRIVATE.