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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods’ embraces old age

A surprise sixth book in the legendary series showcases how much its characters have evolved and the beauty of growth.

Rick Riordan is pictured at the Javits Convention Center in New York City in 2018.

Rick Riordan is pictured at the Javits Convention Center in New York City in 2018.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods” (2023).

Fourteen years after the release of “The Last Olympian” (2009), Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood are back for another quest — getting Percy into college. The book takes place after the events of the spin-off series “The Heroes of Olympus” (2010–14), and Percy and his friends are ready to move into the mortal world and live normal lives. Unfortunately for the half-bloods, Zeus has not let go of his vendetta against Percy, and this time it risks Percy’s future.

All Percy wants to do is finish his senior year of high school and go to New Rome University with his girlfriend, Annabeth. But Percy’s life is never easy, and if he is going to get into college, he must get three recommendation letters from three different gods. And as if that weren’t difficult enough, each letter can only be written after Percy completes a quest from each god. 

“The Chalice of the Gods” (2023) follows Percy’s first quest — to find the missing chalice of the cupbearer of the gods, Ganymede. The missing chalice holds the power to turn any mortal who drinks from it immortal, posing a threat to the gods’ power. With a limited timeframe to find the chalice and a series of apathetic gods in their way, our favorite demigods must work together to overcome the odds once again.

Percy, Annabeth and Grover travel around New York, meeting gods both familiar and new to readers. Hebe, the goddess of youth, throws the trio for a loop when she changes them into young children, reverting them to who they were before even their first adventure together in “The Lightning Thief” (2005). Then, Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, sells crystals at a market and gives the trio crucial information on the chalice thief. They even travel all the way to dreary Yonkers to wash a stick (Iris’ magical staff) — typical Percy Jackson adventure stuff. It’s only after completing these small side quests that the trio learns who might be the chalice thief and find themselves in search of the god of old age, Geras, also known as Gary, in Washington Square Park. 

As Percy is up against old age itself, he has two choices — he can continue to wrestle and fight against it, or he can embrace aging and everything that comes with it. And in a moment of reflection on what he really wants from his future, Percy stops fighting and gives Gary a hug. It’s at this moment in the book that we see truly how far Percy has come since his first adventures. His emotional intelligence and his outlook on life have grown tenfold since “The Lightning Thief,” when Percy was a scared twelve-year-old boy who had just lost his mother. 

After a few more close calls, Percy is able to return the missing chalice and make it back to school in time for third period, with the quest completed and college still on his horizon. 

The book’s writing is typical of Rick Riordan’s style, with a sassy Percy, high stakes and packed action scenes balanced with quieter moments of growth. Each character plays off each other in a flawless manner, keeping the story fast-paced but grounded. 

Riordan also has a knack for tackling character development in the small, seemingly unimportant moments. The trio shows that their bond is as strong as ever as they take on the new challenge. Annabeth and Grover don’t miss a beat and are quick to jump in and help Percy when he reveals his new college situation. We see how the impending leave for college and move into adulthood will change the trio but that their closeness will never truly fade. We also get the opportunity to follow the characters as they move through daily life, completing relatably mundane tasks like writing essays and dealing with unhelpful high school guidance counselors. 

“The Chalice of the Gods” is a wonderful addition to the original series and a beautiful gift to the readers who have stuck around since the original. As Riordan writes, “I wanted it to be a book you all might actually love, a kind of ‘thank you’ for sticking with me all these years.” 

As fans eagerly await the next installment of this new trilogy and the upcoming Disney+ television adaptation, they can find comfort in knowing that these timeless stories and characters will stay with them for the rest of their lives. As Percy, Annabeth and Grover continue to grow, the readers grow right alongside them and together they will all learn to embrace old age.

Summary Chalice of the Gods is the perfect adventure for Percy Jackson readers new and old, with a touching message about growth and all the beautiful things that come from it.
4.5 Stars