The Demigod Diaries, by Rick Riordan – I read a library copy of this book, but that hadn’t stopped some kid from doing all the puzzles in pencil. Oh, well. The reason I checked it out wasn’t for the activities, but for the short stories set in the same universe as the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series. The first one, “The Diary of Luke Castellan,” tells of an adventure of Luke and Thalia Grace before reaching Camp Half-Blood, and how they first met up with Annabeth Chase. We learn more about how Luke’s vendetta against the gods developed. Amaltheia, the goat that nursed Zeus when he was a baby, plays a role, and Riordan shows his knack for updating myths in humorous ways by making her udders function like a soda machine. “Percy Jackson and the Staff of Hermes” takes place in between The Last Olympian and The Lost Hero, after Percy and Annabeth have been dating for a month. Hermes has lost his caduceus, and while he knows who did it, Percy has to do the dirty work of retrieving it. The villain Cacus, a fire-breathing giant cattle thief slain by Hercules, has taken to selling knockoff merchandise in the sewers of New York City, and it takes the two demigods’ combined skills to defeat him. Hermes also reveals that the reason so many television shows are ordered and then canceled so quickly is that Janus is in charge of programming. Incidentally, I checked this book out from the Secaucus Public Library, and there’s a joke about Secaucus (Annabeth’s magic shield confuses the town with Cacus) being “a landscape of dilapidated warehouses and crumbling roads.” Actually, Secaucus is one of the nicer places in the area, being basically a small town within a stone’s throne of New York City, although it is known for its outlet malls. It’s also quite near where the Super Bowl is being held as I write this. “Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford” features the trio of demigods introduced in The Lost Hero: Leo, Jason Grace, and Piper McLean. While chasing down Leo’s walking table, the three encounter a group of girls gone wild, specifically murderous Maenads intent on partying. Oh, and the table contains the item Leo needs to prevent a massive explosion. “Son of Magic” is written by Riordan’s son Haley, and explains such things as how monsters can track heroes and how the Mist operates, something that comes into play in The House of Hades. They’re all fun reads that fill in some gaps in the main series.
From the same universe but not part of the same volume is the short story “The Son of Sobek,” a crossover between Riordan’s series on Greek and Egyptian mythology. There have been some hints that such a thing was coming, starting with Amos’ mention in The Red Pyramid about “other gods” living in Manhattan, and driven home by the appearances of two of Aphrodite’s daughters in The Serpent’s Shadow. In the story, Carter Kane meets Percy while fighting a giant crocodile on Long Island, and while the strong personalities of the two heroes means they don’t get along so well, they have to put their differences aside to defeat the monster. In the process, some of the similarities and differences of the two worlds are highlighted. The possibility is left open that they could team up again in the future, but who knows?