Giving it another go — Percy Jackson

I discovered Rick Riordan’s Olympian series not long after the third book was released, though I put off giving the series a go until more of the books had be published because Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire long, long ago burned out any willingness on my part to get involved in anything longer than a trilogy before all the books had been released. I was excited about the series, but realistic, and while I pride myself on not being a genre snob, I have to admit that I do tend to automatically shy away from books or series that seem “too” popular. Because I don’t want to ever turn my nose up at a book based on other people’s opinions, I made myself read the first book once it was clear that the author would finish the series.

I remember not much liking it, but because, hey, Poseidon! I decided to try again a while after, in preparation to seeing the movie version. Really ought not have done so, because I discovered again that I didn’t much care for the book and I was set up to dislike the movie for changing so much as well as embracing what I think of as lazy writing. (Underworld beings as villains? How . . . original. I mean, the story was already written for you! Why did you have to change so much??)

This isn’t to say that I did not enjoy Kevin McKidd’s portrayal of Poseidon on the big screen. The opening scene where they pay homage to this statue as he’s coming out of the water? Pretty much makes the movie for me — even if Kevin makes too fair of a Poseidon for my taste.

Now, I know that a poor representation of the gods as characters is an age old story telling issue that goes back to Homer, that it is not a problem brought about by millennia of monotheist-dominated cultures. That said, it wasn’t Riordan’s writing itself, or even what could be seen as irreverence that bothered me — why should he write reverently about divinities he does not worship? While I feel I have an onus to write respectfully of gods and spirits, even when having them fulfill an antagonistic role in a story, and while I wish more pagan or pagan friendly writers shared that goal, I certainly don’t expect anyone else to. I simply enjoy stories more when respect is granted — yes, even while I know that a fictional representation may be just that: fiction. At the same time, I know the spirits and gods can use whatever tools come to hand, and if any of Them ever decided to use my fiction as a tool through which to reach someone, I want that tool to be respectful.

Considering the complexity of the interactions I’ve had with Dionysos (the relationship between Poseidon and Dionysos is, at best, a Mystery that I have on hopes of getting into words, and am not even going to try, but it has not ever been easy or necessarily pleasant, these brief interactions) the fact that the portrayal of Dionysos in the series was the most off-putting for me and thus is what turned me away from them after the first three books is somewhat amusing.

But then I was chatting about them in brief with Terence a while ago, and trying to explain why I didn’t care for them. And I thought: the series is finished now. Why not try again?

I’m not sure what’s changed about them, so much. I’m only halfway through the second book (for the second time) but I’m finding them entertaining-enough. I love, even without having read them, how they’ve brought an awareness of Poseidon to the minds of people who might not have come across Him. Yes, I know, fiction . . . but I don’t care. And I don’t hate how much easier it is to find trident images and pendants and jewellery now that it was twenty years ago.

So, to sum up: yay Poseidon!

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7 thoughts on “Giving it another go — Percy Jackson

  1. I’m one of the few pagans who loves Rick Riordan YA books (but dislikes the author), I don’t know what it is but I find them fun and enjoyable. They helped me keep distracted during a depressed phase and I’m also one of the few disabled people who also like the way disability is portrayed on the books, made me feel better as disabled and pagan.

    I loved your post because I also would read something just to see my God in it for a moment, I can identify with that feeling, the books did warmed me to Poseidon even if He is not in my path, I think I knew Him in the light of a few myths and it wasn’t enough but the books made me more aware of a kinder and less limited side, some of the others like Dionysus and Aphrodite were a lot harder to take.

    What I have been noticing and thank you for avoiding it is when people judge a pagan and reader for liking the books, I understand people have different tastes but I have seen polytheists acting like anyone who likes Percy Jackson doesn’t know what is respect towards the Gods and that’s ridiculous.

    As for frequent accusations of showing Them in a bad light, if we take many ancient myths against the PJ books the Gods look better on the books.

    Sorry, a long comment since your post looked like a safe territory to share my feelings that I have kept quiet after every comment about the books by polytheists that treat me like disrespectful and idiot for really liking a fiction YA book series written by a guy who doesn’t respect other religions in person but manages okay for me on the books.

    (I pretend the movies don’t exist, especially the last).

    Speaking about fiction, I know you have a paperback book that I added to my wishlist but is there a plan to offer it as e-book? Because shipping costs kills for Brazil. I’m already reading the one you have as e-book so I got curious.

    • quickie response: if you’re talking about the Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales, you can click on the image on the blog and it links to the Amazon store. I don’t currently have it in any other format; I need to fix that.

  2. Over the last few days I’ve been looking for trident images and was bombarded by Percy Jackson themed stuff. I love the designs but then I’ll have to explain that I’ve never read any of them. Maybe now I should. :p

  3. I did not care much for Riordan’s portrayal of the Egyptian Pantheon or Bast in particular in his Egyptian series. I’ve read most of the Percy Jackson series and even the bulk of the spin off (The Roman)series. I do have some issues with the portrayals, however I have come to see that not everyone connects to the Gods in the same way I do. It is frustrating that these deep and spiritual beings are getting condensed down into two dimensional characters. I only hope that by these fictional stories bringing up their names to new people. That the new people do their proper research to get to know the Gods in their true form. I also find it interesting that the Pagan Gods are all over the media from Percy Jackson to Thor. The world is reaching out for their old Gods in new ways.

  4. I remember there was this price deal at a book store for the Percy Jackson series; the guy I was dating loves Greek stories/myths while growing up, since we were dating, we curiously glanced over the first book. I learned, while growing up, the guy I was dating loved Poseidon in each story, I never knew? So, as a gift, for fun, he paid $50 for all five books of the series by Rick Riordan (I thought it was an expensive gift! Since I couldn’t carry all five out of the store on my own, seeming so tiny to him, so he easily balanced them with one hand and helped me out, while laughing quite a bit).
    I liked the quirkiness of the series. Percy Jackson, for a twelve year-old has a lot of attitude in the first book, which was funny in my opinion. My date read this first, laughing about it, thanking the Percy Jackson series to be false than truth, though he wasn’t too positive over the Gods and Goddesses having new loves, that part seemed a bit truthful to my date.

    Out of no where, the first movie was announced, and I thought to myself, “Oh wow, this is going to be big.” Pretty big, though the movie, even by plot was totally different than the book series? Finding time to read the continuing series is the hard part, haha. I thought it wasn’t too, too bad. The series could always have been worse, I told myself after reading the last novel. It has powerful messages to give readers of every age.

    Admin Note: some lines of this response have been removed to remove potential spoilers to the books!!

  5. It took me a bit to get into the PJ books, but once I did, I was hooked. I find the Roman/Greek spin-off series to deal with more complex issues and show a less one-dimensional side of the Gods. And I have to say I was surprised that Poseidon was chosen as the main Good guy, and not some of the more popular/well-known Gods, like Zeus or Aphrodite. And yes, I’ll read something just because my Gods are in it, and I look forward with a ton of excitement and some wariness regarding Riordan’s next series based on the Norse myths.

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