When I reviewed Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters, I complained about a lack of growth in both the text and the author, but in the third installment of the Olympians Series Percy Jackson and the Titian’s Curse, Rick Riordan finally adds a hint of depth to the narrative the previous installments have been lacking. While we are still in Percy’s head, he has a broader perspective, sensing the world around him and demonstrating growth as both a character and a series. Thus he holds the book up, showing concern for others and more genuine emotions than we see in the video game style, immature hero for the first two books.
As the narrative commences, Percy and his band of friends are off to rescue some newly found half-bloods, only this time said rescue is to take place during the winter. As always times are urgent, it seems that monsters are about to destroy the lives of the brother and sister duo the named heroes seek to rescue (later identified as descendants of Hades). In the melee, Artemis arrives with a band of hunters, who as long as they do not perish in battle, exist as immortal servants to the goddess. But as a result of the battle and perhaps Percy’s actions, Annabeth disappears, sending Percy into a personal quandary just as deep as the coming apocalypse of Western Civilization. As Aphrodite will later imply, Percy has feelings for Annabeth that run deeper than friendship and spur his desire to save her.
Thus Titians continue to stir, their army amasses, and Atlas, once holding the sky on his shoulders, has tricked Artemis into bearing the burden in order to tempt Thalia into joining their cause while simultaneously working to eliminate Percy from the gene pool. As the central half-bloods, joined by Grover, huntress Zoe, and short lived newcomer Bianca journey in search of the goddess of the hunt, they face the doom of civilization in that yet another short time span (5 days before the winter solstice) stands before them. Skeletons sown from the teeth of dragons (think Jason), giant hogs, and mechanized soldiers bar their bumbling path. The mythological hijinks continue to buoy the text despite growing glimpses into the character of Jackson himself.
As usual, divine forces dot their journey, pushing them, if not begrudgingly at times. Yet this time around, the novel works on a deeper level. Percy seems to understand his surroundings, and such awareness works to push the narrative on. It is no longer just a series of loosely connected battles, there is an arc, an understanding, and thus a direction. Further adding to the fray, Grover, who was next to useless in the first text, now has power, the ability to control nature, and legitimate purpose. The heroes are growing up, even if we only see about a week of their life per year.