The Lightning Thief
Percy learns his father is Poseidon, god of the Sea and brother to Zeus and Hades. When Zeus's master bolt (the thing that allows him to create lightning whenever he wants) is stolen, Poseidon is blamed for the theft. Zeus tells Poseidon that the master bolt must be returned to Mount Olympus by the summer solstice, or else he will declare war on Poseidon.
Percy sets out on a quest to retrieve Zeus's master bolt, which is believed to be in the Underworld. Helping Percy are Grover, and Annabeth, a smart demi-goddess and daughter of Athena. The three take a bus, a train, a truck, and a taxi cab to make their way across America, from New York to Los Angeles, where the gates of the Underworld are located. They stop in St. Louis, Denver, and Las Vegas along the way. During their quest, they battle vicious monsters like Medusa, they find disaster on the observation deck of the Gateway Arch, they are tricked by the god of war (Ares), they nearly lose their memories in an enchanted Vegas casino.
Percy finds that Hades does not have Zeus's master bolt, and he is missing his own symbol of power: the helm of darkness. Hades accuses Percy of stealing both the master bolt and the helm of darkness for his father, Poseidon. He accuses Poseidon of being power-hungry. To make things worse, the master bolt magically appears in Percy's backpack while he is talking to Hades.
After escaping Hades's wrath, Percy, Annabeth, and Grover encounter Ares, the god of war, on the Santa Monica beach. Percy questions Ares and discovers that Ares stole the master bolt and helm of darkness from the original thief (whose name we don't yet know). Ares has been tempted by the possibility of sparking one of the biggest wars of all time between the Big Three: Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon. Percy and Ares battle it out on the beach, and Percy wounds Ares, winning the helm of darkness. Ares curses Percy.
Percy returns the helm of darkness to Hades and takes a plane to New York City where he finds Mount Olympus on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. Percy meets Poseidon and Zeus for the first time and tells them everything that he knows and suspects. He tells them that he believes Kronos, king of the Titans who ruled in the age before the Greek gods, is getting ready to wage war on the Olympians (the Greek gods and goddesses). Percy has been having dreams about Kronos in which Kronos talks to him. Zeus doesn't want to hear it. Poseidon tells Percy that he is proud of him and that he must make a choice when he goes home to his mom's apartment in Queens, NY.
That summer at Camp Half-Blood, Percy has a great time living the life of a hero. He procrastinates making a decision about whether he will stay at Camp Half-Blood year round, or whether he will go home and live with his mom in Queens.
On the last day of camp, Percy is lured into the woods by his friend, Luke. Luke confesses to Percy that he was the original thief of the master bolt and the helm of darkness. He tells Percy that he serves Kronos and that Kronos is planning to defeat the Olympians and get rid of them. Luke vanishes, leaving a deadly scorpion to sting Percy. Percy nearly dies from this scorpion bite, but is rescued by wood nymphs who take him to safety. Percy's teacher, Chiron, nurses him back to health. Percy decides to go home and live with his mother for his seventh-grade year.
Like her mom, Annabeth is really good at strategizing, and she nearly always has a plan. That's why she is captain of her Capture-the-Flag team – she knows how to anticipate what the other team will do and what their weaknesses are. She also loves to study architecture. When the trio visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Annabeth is super-excited. She has learned everything about how the Arch is constructed and why it is special. Her mom, too, shares a passion for building, inventing, and crafting things.
Annabeth and Percy have something in common: both have family issues and terrible step-parents. Her dad is a human, a professor at West Point who teaches American History. Annabeth is angry at him for rejecting her at an early age:
"Grover has big dreams. Perhaps bigger than are reasonable. To reach his goal, Grover must first demonstrate great courage by succeeding as a keeper, finding a camper and bringing him safely to Half-Blood Hill."(6.16)
According to the Council of Cloven Elders, Grover did not bring Percy safely back to Camp Half-Blood the night the Minotaur attacked – Percy brought him (literally, he carried an unconscious Grover onto camp property). And, in the Council's eyes, Grover also failed to bring Thalia to safety so many summers ago (an event that broke Grover's heart and that weighs on him still). That means that, technically, Grover has failed twice at being a keeper. Grover's last chance to win a searcher's license (so that he can go in search of Pan) is to safely bring Percy and Annabeth home from their quest. Which he does! Wahoo!
Gradually, over the course of Percy's time at camp, he realizes that Luke holds a grudge against his own dad, Hermes. Luke does a good job of covering this up, but Percy still observes a strain of sadness in Luke.
On the very last day of camp, Luke lures Percy into the woods and nearly kills Percy with a lethal scorpion. He confesses to Percy that he was the original thief of both the master bolt and of the helm of darkness. He tells Percy that he is helping Kronos overthrow the Olympians. When Percy exclaims that the Olympians are their family, their parents, Luke responds,
"That's supposed to make me love them? Their precious 'Western civilization' is a disease, Percy. It's killing the world. The only way to stop it is to burn it to the ground, start over with something more honest." (22.109)
Do you hear the venom in his voice? Do you hear his anger? Luke feels rejected by his father, Hermes, and he wants revenge. Hermes never really checks in on Luke, and once he embarrassed him by giving him a quest to retrieve a golden apple from the Garden of Hesperides – a quest that another more ancient hero had already successfully completed. Like Annabeth, Luke is a year-rounder at Camp Half-Blood, and so his life is pretty limited. He doesn't get to see the real world. His only chance at a quest was a repeat of another hero's quest, making him feel like Hermes was mocking him and intentionally embarrassing him. Luke is a talented swordsman and fighter, but his talents are "wasted" at Camp Half-Blood.
In his last few moments at Camp Half-Blood, before leaving to serve Kronos full-time, Luke tells Percy that "all the gods know how to do is replay their past" (22.122). He is inspired by the idea of change, and he craves revenge on Hermes.
Percy decides to team up with Annabeth and Grover to prove his innocence. Along the way they come across Ares's the god of war. They don't know he is the thief, until later.
At the end they find out they have been tricked by Ares. They go to tell Zeus this before the winter solstice, their deadline. Zeus believes him, so he forgives them. When they return back to Camp Half-Blood, Percy finds out that it wasn't really Ares's who stole it, it was Luke, and that Ares's was just helping him. Luke has always sided with Kronos and always will.
About The Author
He loved to read Lord of the Rings. He fell in love with mythology, in middle school. He mostly read fantasy and science fiction in high school, and got interested in mysteries in college. His parents were both teachers. He worked at a camp in the summer that's how he got the idea of Camp Half-Blood.
He lives with his wife and 2 sons. They own two cats and one dog. His favorite character is either Grover or Tyson.
When she looks at me, it's like she's seeing all the good things about me, none of the bad. I've never heard her raise her voice or say an unkind word to anyone, not even me or Gabe. (3.36)
My mother was gone. The whole world should be black and cold. Nothing should look beautiful. (5.25)
I felt so relieved, I wanted to cry, though I didn't think that would be very heroic. Grover was the only friend I'd ever had for longer than a few months. I wasn't sure what good a satyr could do against the forces of the dead, but I felt better knowing he'd be with me. (9.192)
The truth was I didn't care about retrieving Zeus's lightning bolt, or saving the world, or even helping my father out of trouble.… All I cared about was my mom. Hades had taken her unfairly, and Hades was going to give her back. (10.103-104)