It’s a week before the release of Blood of Olympus, and the excitement is building: readers everywhere are eager to get their hands on the last installment in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series about seven demi-gods in the modern world who are racing against time to prevent the earth goddess, Gaia, from awakening. As anyone not trapped in Hades for the past six months must know, the fifth and final novel in the series is scheduled for release on October 7. The launch, at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Mass., is sponsored by Porter Square Books in Cambridge and sold out within days of being announced in mid-August. Riordan will tour the country through October 15, appearing in seven more U.S. cities and Toronto;, most of those appearances also are already sold out.
During a telephone interview with PW earlier this year, Riordan disclosed that in his new book, there will be a “big final confrontation” between the demigods and evil giants, but he wouldn’t say much else. When asked if the title of the novel refers to the blood of any of the demigods, all he would say in answer was, “All seven demigods will have a resolution to their story, one way or another. You will know where all of the characters are and what’s happening to them. It really is all about wrapping things up and coming full circle to the story we started in The Lost Hero.”
Last week, on Twitter, Riordan revealed a few more details about the novel that whipped some of his followers into a happy frenzy of retweets of his initial tweets. As the laydown date approaches for the embargoed novel, Riordan has been blocking followers from his Twitter feed who have responded to his tweets by asking him to confirm or deny specific rumors they’d heard about the plot. He also has repeatedly urged anyone who “by some chance” obtained an early copy of the novel not to post spoilers online. “I am aware of people posting spoilers,” he wrote on September 27, “Whether info is true or not, the posters have a special punishment waiting for them in Tartarus.” On Sunday, Riordan posted that he was “turning off social media until October 7 to avoid BoO spoilers (real or fake)” and suggested that his followers do so as well.
Quoting to PW the words of the prophecy that’s been plaguing the seven demi-gods since that first volume – “To storm or fire the world must fall/an oath to keep with the last breath” – Riordan has promised that readers will discover “whose final breath we’re talking about and what oath we’re talking about.” But he warns, “As with all Greek prophecies, there are a number of ways you can interpret them.” More often than not, he adds, such a prophecy is worded so ambiguously that “it comes true in a way that you weren’t expecting” but makes complete sense.
Next Stop: Asgard, the Home of the Norse Gods
Parting is always such sweet sorrow, and for an author who has lived and breathed these seven demigods for almost five years, it’s especially bittersweet to close the book on characters about whom he speaks almost as if they were his children. “I love them all so much,” he told PW before BEA, disclosing that Leo Valdez is his favorite, because he’s “such a joker, so much fun to write about.” He’s a “ham” whose voice comes “naturally” to him, Riordan explains, as he once “taught a lot of kids” like Leo. And Piper McLean, “a character that some people liked to beat up on because she wasn’t overtly powerful,” Riordan says, “comes into her own” in Blood of Olympus. “I’ve really come to see her as the glue that holds the seven together,” he explains. ”She’s the compassionate one, the understanding one.”
Having mixed up Greek gods and modern teens for young readers since the release of The Lightning Thief in 2005, with a foray into Egyptian myths, Riordan is moving north for his next project: writing a trilogy of novels inspired by Norse mythology that will be set primarily in modern-day Boston. The title of the first novel in the series was announced last week: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, scheduled for an October 2015 release. Beyond the title and the cover art reveal, all Riordan would say on his Myth & Mystery blog was, “Chase... hmm, where have I heard that name before? Isn’t that Annabeth’s last name? Yes, it is. And no, that’s not simply a coincidence. Beyond that, I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you guessing.”
When he decided to set his next series in Boston, his home for the past year since a move from Texas for family reasons, he told PW, he “wasn’t sure if there were connections to Norse mythology in Boston.” He quickly discovered, however, that there are “tons,” including pillars designed like Norwegian long ships on the Longfellow Bridge between Boston and Cambridge, and a statue of Leif Eriksson on Commonwealth Avenue.
“I can’t wait to get into the world of Thor, and Odin, and Loki,” he said, disclosing that Loki is his favorite Norse god, even though “he’s not a great father figure.”
But, Riordan emphasized, he’ll almost certainly return to the Greeks, especially after visiting the Mediterranean for the first time after wrapping up the Percy Jackson series in 2009, before launching the Heroes of Olympus series in 2010. He says that, while visiting “the homeland of Greek myths,” he discovered “new levels and different variations of the stories” that he hadn’t been aware of before his travels. “I do leave the door open for further ideas I might want to explore,” he promised.
As far as his fans are concerned, Riordan isn’t really coming down from his perch on Mt. Olympus at all. With the August release of Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, Riordan’s collection of Greek myths narrated by the protagonist of his first middle-grade series, illustrated by John Rocco – as well as an app called Rick Riordan’s Demigods of Olympus – his fans will continue to get their mythology fixes. Not only will readers be able to read Riordan’s irreverent takes on the gods and goddesses that inspired him to write his own myths, but readers will also be able to download and read digital editions of all of Riordan’s books in the Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, and Heroes of Olympus series. If all that is still not enough for Riordan’s fans, the app will also allow them to undertake their own mythical quests through interactive, choose-your-adventure narratives featuring the reader as protagonist, and with demigod status to boot.