A Guest Post from Rick Riordan
Today marks the release of the long awaited third book in the Heroes of Olympus series, The Mark of Athena, which (thanks to an early look) we chose as our spotlight pick for the Best Middle Grade books of October for ages 9 and up. Riordan hits all the right notes in book three, weaving new threads on classic stories from Greek and Roman mythology into existing ones fans have been eager to learn more about--all with a fun modern twist, of course. To mark the occasion, we are thrilled to bring you the guest post on mythology below from author Rick Riordan. You can also read a PDF of the first chapter from The Mark of Athena here.
My Favorite Mythologies
I often get asked which mythology is my favorite—Greek, Egyptian, Norse, or something else. That’s sort of like asking which is my favorite flavor of ice cream. I love so many of them, if I stuck with just one I’d get tired of it. Some days I’m in the mood for mint chocolate. Other days it’s vanilla, or fresh peach. I think of mythology the same way. I like each kind of mythology for different reasons, and I feel fortunate that I don’t have to choose just one.
If I had to? Well, of course, I’d go with Greek and Roman. Those stories are so deeply woven into our literature and culture that everyone recognized some part of the Greek mythology, whether it’s snaky-haired Medusa, Hercules with his club and lion cape, Pegasus the winged horse or the many-headed hydra. The Greek gods are so human it’s hard not to love them, even when they’re being absolute scoundrels. My personal favorite is Poseidon (no surprise), because I love the sea and I like the way Poseidon can reflect its many moods—some days calm and peaceful, other days dark and stormy.
Egyptian myths intrigue me for the opposite reason—because they are not well known. They are shrouded in mystery and have always seemed so exotic. I love the Egyptian underworld, with its demons, strange gods, and its River of Night. Horus the Avenger is one of my favorite gods, because it’s easy to relate to a son who wants to avenge his dead father. That’s the story behind the plot of Hamlet and many other great dramas—and it all comes originally from the story of Horus.
Norse mythology is the first mythology I ever studied in school, even before Greek. My middle-school English teacher knew that I liked The Lord of the Rings, and she told me that Tolkien’s series was based on the Norse myths. Those stories just blew me away when I was thirteen. I’ve been a mythology lover ever since, and that was also the year I decided I wanted to be a writer. A good teacher can have a huge impact.
What other mythologies do I like? In my classroom, I used to teach Ancient Sumerian myths, especially the story of Gilgamesh. I love the epic tales of India like the Ramayana, especially Hanuman the monkey god. Awesome character. I love Japanese myths, Native American folklore, and stories from the many cultures of Africa. One of my students’ favorite stories was the epic of the hero Mwindo, from the Nyanga people in the Congo.
I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to do books based on all these mythologies, but I plan to tackle as many as I can. In the meantime, check out the original myths for yourself!
Rick Riordan (www.rickriordan.com) is the author of the New York Times #1 best-selling Kane Chronicles trilogy, Book One: The Red Pyramid, Book Two:The Throne of Fire, and Book Three: The Serpent's Shadow. His other novels for children include the New York Times #1 best-selling Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero, and Book Two: The Son of Neptune, as well as the five books in the New York Times #1 best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife and two sons.