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A Heroic Homecoming

NEW CLASSIC Rick Riordan has been writing books set in the Percy Jackson universe since 2005. FROM LEFT: COURTESY BECKY RIORDAN; 3D BOOK COVER ILLUSTRATION BY STEPHEN BLUE FOR TIME FOR KIDS

Percy Jackson is back, for his toughest adventure yet: applying to college. The Chalice of the Gods is the latest book in Rick Riordan’s sprawling world of modern mythology. It’s his first Percy adventure in 14 years.

“I wasn’t planning on writing another book from Percy’s point of view,” Riordan told TIME for Kids. But while pitching a Percy Jackson TV show, in 2019, he got some ideas for a new book. The ideas stuck with Riordan. He was inspired. “What if I did a thank-you letter to the fans who’ve been waiting so long for this show?” he recalls thinking at the time.

Riordan wrote The Chalice of the Gods while on set for the show, which will air on Disney+ in December. Returning to the characters’ origins helped him imagine their futures. He dedicated the book to the show’s cast. “They work so hard to make this the best it can be,” Riordan says. “I fed off that excitement.”

Percy provides his trademarked sarcastic narration. Riordan felt nervous about writing in Percy’s voice again. “But I quickly found that Percy is so much a part of me,” he says.

After saving the world twice, Percy’s college plans are thrown off course when he learns he’ll have to complete quests to receive recommendation letters from the gods. The first quest sees Percy and friends searching for the lost Chalice of the Gods while balancing school responsibilities. “This [quest] is more like, ‘What does your demigod crew do on an average Tuesday?’” Riordan says. “That made it different and refreshing to me.”

Riordan wants the book to bring joy to fans new and old. “If you know the series, it feels like a homecoming and a joyous reunion,” he says. “If you don’t know the series, I hope it’s a great place to start.”