Jason, Piper and Leo are thrown into the world of half-blood children of gods and embark on a quest to free Hera-Juno from the clutches of a mysterious enemy. Taken to Camp Half-Blood when their group is attacked by Wind Spirits, each discovers his or her godly parent and together they go on a quest starting with the wind spirits who attacked them on the Grand Canyon and who captured their protector, the satyr Gleeson Hedge. They fight their way past one mythological character after another, all the while trying to puzzle out the mystery of Jason’s past and his connection with the Roman gods. Finally they end up rescuing the goddess Hera-Juno before returning to Camp Half-Blood to be told of the next stage of their journey.

The Lost Hero is the first episode in a new series set in the Percy Jackson universe. It’s the same gods and goddesses, the same sort of characters, the same Oracle and the same challenge of being sent on a Quest. The twist is that we and the demigods discover the existence of the half-blood children of the Roman gods, the same gods as the Greek gods, only in their Roman aspect. The author is forced to retrofit this new set of gods into the existing canon by some sleight of hand and creative rewriting of narrative history.

Both series share the same fictional premise: that the classical gods have been the driving force behind civilisation for 3,000 years and are alive and well today; and that they have, over the years, fathered (or mothered) many children, whom they have then abandoned in the hands of their human parent. There’s no suggestion that the deity in question ever went through any form of marriage with the human parent so, to paint a bleak picture, your starting point is a group of illegitimate children who are the outcome of a one-night stand. Unfortunately this unsavoury background is all too easily taken for granted in the world of young lit and is never really a discussion point here. By way of a contrast, you might want to look at Ali Sparkes Shapeshifter series where the same basic idea is present (gifted children from a human a non-human parent) but where the mothers in question actually married and lived with their husbands only to die early on in their children’s life. That series isn’t perfect but it handles this aspect rather better, granted its premise.

The Lost Hero goes through the same motions but there’s little which is truly new, and each encounter is essentially the same: get to the hideout of some mythological ruler; try to get information from this duplicitous being who’s somehow being controlled by a shadowy presence; fight your way out; be given information in a dream by your godly parent. On top of all this the author has to spend a little too much time squaring the new Roman gods with what we knew of their Greek counterparts. The epilogue shows that the Greek-Roman thing will become clearer in the later books but I’m afraid I’m not a fan of a book which is written as the first of the series and which leaves parts out, especially when it’s already over 550 pages long.

That’s not to say it’s not a mildly entertaining ride especially for fans of the earlier series. The trio (almost inveitable in these post-Potter days) of Jason, Piper and Leo has chemistry and their strengths and weaknesses play off nicely against the opponents they meet. Aside from the main three, there are no obviously stand-out characters. There’s a promising twist right at the beginning where we meet Jason on a school trip when he has no idea who he is or who his classmates are. They think he’s kidding, and for a while we don’t know who’s deceiving whom. There’s a brief whirlwind of action and then the rescuers arrive, and we’re back at Camp Half-Blood, and it all gets a little bit more predictable. Entertaining, but missing a certain something.

Tim Golden is a computer programmer living in London.  He is also the editor of the Good-to-Read website.