Marcus’ exciting journey as a Roman slave and the unfolding of secrets and fortunes will have readers racing through the...

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FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

From the Gladiator series , Vol. 1

When his father, a former Roman centurion, is murdered, 10-year-old Marcus Cornelius Primus is enslaved and forced into training as a gladiator, and his mother, a former slave, is returned to slavery.

“The Gods will play their games,” Aulus Tullius Taurus, his chief training instructor, tells him, reflecting on Marcus’ declining fortunes. Marcus’ dream is to survive gladiator school and one day earn his freedom. But his path will not be easy. Gladiator training is harsh enough, but he must also face a bully in the form of Ferax, a Celt bent on his destruction. But Marcus develops a friendship with Brixus, a slave in the kitchen who had once been a lieutenant to Spartacus, and Brixus discovers a secret about Marcus that will alter Marcus’ destiny. When Marcus is forced to face wolves in an early gladiator challenge and ends up saving the life of Portia, the niece of Gaius Julius Caesar, his life takes a turn, as Caesar brings Marcus to Rome to be Portia’s bodyguard. It’s an exciting, well-told adventure that deserves a readership…if young readers can get past the corny cover and untangle all the names that end in -us.

Marcus’ exciting journey as a Roman slave and the unfolding of secrets and fortunes will have readers racing through the pages and eagerly anticipating the sequel, Street Fighter.   (Historical adventure. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 988-1-4231-5101-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK HEROES

In a similarly hefty companion to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods (2014), the most voluble of Poseidon’s many sons dishes on a dozen more ancient relatives and fellow demigods.

Riordan averts his young yarn spinner’s eyes from the sex but not the stupidity, violence, malice, or bad choices that drive so many of the old tales. He leavens full, refreshingly tart accounts of the ups and downs of such higher-profile heroes as Theseus, Orpheus, Hercules, and Jason with the lesser-known but often equally awesome exploits of such butt-kicking ladies as Atalanta, Otrera (the first Amazon), and lion-wrestling Cyrene. In thought-provoking contrast, Psyche comes off as no less heroic, even though her story is less about general slaughter than the tough “Iron Housewives quests” Aphrodite forces her to undertake to rescue her beloved Eros. Furthermore, along with snarky chapter heads (“Phaethon Fails Driver’s Ed”), the contemporary labor includes references to Jay-Z, Apple Maps, god-to-god texting, and the like—not to mention the way the narrator makes fun of hard-to-pronounce names and points up such character flaws as ADHD (Theseus) and anger management issues (Hercules). The breezy treatment effectively blows off at least some of the dust obscuring the timeless themes in each hero’s career. In Rocco’s melodramatically murky illustrations, men and women alike display rippling thews and plenty of skin as they battle ravening monsters.

Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live. (maps, index) (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8365-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

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