Rick Riordan is a funny guy. Of course, his books have a lot of action and adventure and magic and death and all that other razzmatazz, but they’re also funny. Just check out the dedication in his latest release The House of Hades – the fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series.
His books have a lot of references to popular Internet jokes, real-world anomalies (for example, the existence of the platypus) as well as references to his other series too. Very meta. But my favourite references have to be his jokes at the expense of the publishing world in general and book people in particular.
Achelous ignored him. ‘My girl, do you know the cause of my fight with Hercules?’
‘It was over a woman,’ Piper recalled. ‘Deianira?’
‘Yes.’ Achelous heaved a sigh. ‘And do you know what happened to her?’
‘Uh…’ Piper glanced at Jason.
He took out his guidebook and began flipping through pages. ‘It doesn’t really-‘
Achelous snorted indignantly. ‘What is that?’
Jason blinked. ‘Just … The Hercules Guide to Mare Nostrum. He gave us the guidebook so-‘
‘That is not a book,’ Achelous insisted. ‘He gave you that just to get under my skin, didn’t he? He knows I hate those things.’
‘You hate … books?’ Piper asked.
‘Bah!’ Achelous’s face flushed, turning his blue skin aubergine purple. ‘That’s not a book.’
He pawed the water. A scroll shot from the river like a miniature rocket and landed in front of him. He nudged it open with his hooves. The weathered yellow parchment unfurled, covered with faded Latin script and elaborate hand-drawn pictures.
‘This is a book!’ Achelous said. ‘Oh, the smell of sheepskin! The elegant feel of the scroll unrolling beneath my hooves. You simply can’t duplicate it in something like that.’
He nodded indignantly at the guidebook in Jason’s hand. ‘You young folks today and your newfangled gadgets. Bound pages. Little compact squares of text that are not hoof-friendly. That’s a bound book, a b-book, if you must. But it’s not a traditional book. It’ll never replace the good old-fashioned scroll!’
‘Um, I’ll just put this away now.’ Jason slipped the guidebook in his back pocket the way he might holster a dangerous weapon.
Achelous seemed to calm down a little, which was relief to Piper. She didn’t need to get run over by a one-horned bull with a scroll obsession.
Rick Riordan, Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena
I used to be one of those rabidly-against-eBooks people, forever talking about the glory of paper and ink. While I still love my paper-and-ink books (or real books, as I still think of them in my head), I’ve gotten over my aversion to eBooks and embraced their possibilities with the purchase of my brand new tablet.
So here’s to reading more fun books like Riordan’s in their e-versions.
(You can read my review of the first book, The Lost Hero, here.)