hazel, oh gosh, who buried herself and arose from it, who is the youngest of them in so many ways, because she died young, she stayed young— her age is somewhere between thirteen and over sixty. how much age does a curse put on your shoulders? a death? a doom? when you trade your heaven for your mother’s purgatory, what does that do to your adolescent soul?
annabeth, who braved tartarus and arose from it. i wonder if her lungs ache from that toxic air all her life, or if the flesh grows back, the alveoli fresh and new. i wonder if the first time she breathes fresh air and nothing aches she has to reach for percy’s hand, if she feels unbalanced, unmoored. how do you fall asleep, when you don’t feel the very air eating you from the inside out? how do you sleep, not knowing in the very burn of your flesh that you are dying? she has to remember what being safe feels like.
and also piper, who just takes weaponized femininity and runs with it— normally at enemies. she has a golden dagger and a golden tongue and she is the most ruthless of them in so many ways. death is something that built hazel, shaped her—it chases annabeth’s heels, nips at them, leaves scars—but piper, daughter of love and lust and jealousy and beauty so sharp it scars, is the one who wields death with the lightest heart.
and I love the way the women talk to each other in these books, the way the girls learn and laugh and compliment and complement each other. annabeth is the head and piper the heart and hazel the soul, except when piper’s wielding that clever tongue or hazel’s puzzling out a witch’s riddle; when annabeth’s clinging to percy against all odds, when hazel’s big heart and open hands win arion’s speed to their side; when piper believes in herself so hard she becomes the most powerful of them, when annabeth stands and refuses to bow to temptation, desire, or fear
one of the things i like best about the series is that, for all riordan swarms around his romances with glee, the mutual strengths lie not just in the romantic couples but in each friendship we see among the seven (and reyna and nico oh my gods i loved nico and reyna in the last book).
he breaks them up and re-pairs them: makes strategist annabeth see and respect piper’s emotional intuition, has leo and frank chew through the jealousies between them (the muscle and the mind, the reliable soldier and the mad
riordan balances percy’s ability to make shit up as he goes along with jason’s steady leadership and support. hazel’s speed and bravery and gumption is yes measured up against frank’s quiet, loyal self-sacrifice, but she’s also inspired by jason, comforted by percy, and delighted by leo. where hazel is the witch, the sly innocent, and the quick-footed, piper is the quick-tongued, and annabeth the quick-witted.
romance is important and rather sappy in the stories of riordan’s young heroes; they’re sweet and well-meant and a little heavy handed, but they’re also strung among these powerful, narratively respected friendships. the romans cling together, knowing duty the way the greeks never quite will; jason, piper, and leo rode a dragon across america once, and now all seven of them cross an ocean on its resurrected corpse, leo counting down to its second death.
they are a team, with love strung among them. they are a very small army. they are a group of children asked to save the world; and they do. eventually.