I think it's fairly safe to say that if you've read one Percy Jackson book you've read them all. When Rick Riordan announced he would be reviving his young demi-god for a new series, The Heroes of Olympus, the news was met with a great deal of excitement. The anticipation of meeting new heroes, old friends, and some great adventures was fairly palpable through the first two books. However, with the release of The Mark of Athena, fans may start to wonder if this new series is simply more of the same.                

The Mark of Athena follows the same basic formula of its predecessors. Once the main characters have reunited after their long split, they immediately set out on a new quest. Like all quests, this one comes with A.) A lyrical prophecy to follow (given via Ella the Harpy), B.) a set time limit for completion, and C.) a variety of monsters that are badly in need of slaying. Riding in an enchanted warship, the seven heroes make their way across the United States and eventually to Rome, engaging in all sorts of hijinks along the way. Various Greco-Roman legends make cameo appearances in a variety of locations per usual, with a smattering of battle thrown in just when things start to look dull.               

By now, readers will have this process down to a T. You could say that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", but the same trick can only entertain an audience for so long. Riordan must have been afraid this might happen; because at the end of the third book you get the feeling he was trying to add a note of suspense to the series. His new tactic it might work for some readers, others however, may end up feeling cheated. In the end, it will likely depend on who is reading the book.          

Overall, The Mark of Athena isn't bad, it's just old-hat. Readers will have heard this story time and again, and anyone hoping for something fresh or surprising will be sadly disappointed. To give Riordan credit, the book does endeavor to make the experience more meaningful than past installments. Riordan takes time to shape the relationships of the young heroes, and leaves a few free strands for readers to mull over and make their own predictions. It also doesn't hurt that the novel is a fun, easy read for anyone looking to pass the time.  

If you're a fan of fantasy and enjoyed Riordan's other series, then The Mark of Athena will be one more book to add to your library. If not, then it's probably best you spend your free time looking elsewhere.

*This Article First Published 10/16/2012