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The Lightning Thief, written by Rick Riordan, is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The book was adapted into a motion picture and a graphic novel in 2010.

This book tells of the main character, Percy Jackson, as he discovers a world much bigger than he has ever imagined but is immediately handed a quest to redeem himself from a crime he never committed.


Field Trip

Percy Jackson is a twelve-year-old boy diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, and he has been expelled from every school he has ever attended. While he is in sixth grade on a field trip,[1] a classmate of his, Nancy Bobofit, bullies his best friend Grover Underwood. Percy is outraged, and suddenly, water from a nearby fountain drenches Nancy in a very unnatural way but the Mist makes it look like Percy pushed her. Their pre-algebra teacher, Mrs. Dodds, takes Percy for a private talk, presumably to scold him. However, she suddenly turns into a Fury, a mythical creature known from Greek mythology,[2] and tries to kill him. The Latin teacher, Mr. Brunner, charges in and throws Percy a pen that suddenly changes into a sword when he uncaps it. Percy kills the Fury in self-defense.

For the rest of the year, everyone in the campus thinks that Mrs. Dodds had never existed, and their pre-algebra teacher is Mrs. Kerr, a teacher he has never once seen before. Percy, however, suspects that something is going on since whenever he asks Grover, he hesitates. Percy is almost led to believe this, too, until he eavesdrops on Grover and Mr. Brunner saying otherwise. On his way home for the summer, he sees three very old women knitting, who turn out to be the Fates, cut a line of string, and Grover tells him this is worse than it really seems. He explains to Percy that the Fates are the ones who decide the lifespan of a being. The string in their hand is the lifeline of a person and when cut, it signifies the person's death. Percy is very frightened by this and assumes that the string of yarn that had just been cut off was his. When they make it into Manhattan, Percy ditches Grover who has to go to the restroom.

Percy comes home to his mother, Sally Jackson. She tells him that, as a treat, they would get to go on a vacation to Montauk for a couple of days, and that they are to leave immediately. Though they run into some complications, namely Percy's stepfather, Gabe Ugliano, they are able to leave for their destination.

Grover urgently comes to Montauk and tells Percy's mother that Percy must flee to a specific camp, Camp Half-Blood. Sally drives the two kids to camp using Gabe's car. Inside the car, Percy discovers that his mother and Grover are familiar with one another; he also notices that Grover is a goat from the waist down. As they travel closer to the camp, they are attacked by a Minotaur. While trapped inside the car, Sally then tells Percy to escape and run for the tree, but Percy disagrees and tells her that he is not leaving her behind. Leaving her no choice, Sally helps Percy with Grover as they run for the pine tree marking the borders of camp. However, Percy's mom could no longer go further and continues to distract the Minotaur, but it immediately grabs her and she dissolves into a golden shower of light.

Chiron, activities director at Camp Half-Blood.

Seeing this, Percy grows angry and charges towards the Minotaur. He is able to grab its horn and stabs it, causing the monster to crumble into dust. He walks to the camp's borders with Grover before he collapses on the porch in front of a man and a girl.

Camp Half-Blood

Percy weaves in and out of consciousness, and when he is conscious, he sees the girl he had seen tending to him. When he comes to for good, Grover gives him back the Minotaur horn and takes him to the man he had seen earlier. He finds out that the man is Mr. Brunner and is told that everything he had learned in Greek mythology is true. He is introduced to Mr. D, who is really Dionysus, and Mr. Brunner reveals himself to be the centaur Chiron. Chiron hands him over to the girl who took care of him while he was unconscious, a girl named Annabeth Chase, and she then gives him a tour of the camp and explains in detail their identity as demigods. He is taken to the Hermes Cabin, where he will be staying, and is introduced to the head counselor, Luke Castellan.

They are interrupted by Clarisse La Rue, a girl from the Ares cabin, as she tries to shove his head in a toilet as part of an initiation ceremony, but the plan backfires as the water arcs over his head and onto her and her friends, pushing them out the bathroom.

Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon.

Percy prepares for his new life as a demigod. During a Capture the Flag game, Ares campers attack him, all wanting revenge for what he had done to Clarisse. Clarisse stabs him with her electric spear but he steps in the creek and gains the upper hand. He breaks Clarisse's spear and defeats his other rivals. Just as he defeats all of the campers, Luke crosses the line with the enemy flag and wins the game. Amidst the celebration, Annabeth notices Percy's wound as he stays in the water, which seems to be healing. She asks Percy to step out of the water and Percy soon feels weakened.

Annabeth jumps to the conclusion of who his father may be. Suddenly, a hellhound attacks Percy, wounding the demigod. Chiron kills the hellhound and Annabeth shows Chiron what happens when Percy is in the water. Percy is claimed as a son of Poseidon through a hologram of green light in the form of a trident.

This is a surprise to many as it is revealed that the three elder gods — Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades — have taken an oath to never have demigod children again. Percy's appearance, a clear sign that Poseidon has broken the oath, can only mean strange and obscure events for the future.

Percy is granted a quest to find Zeus' Master Bolt, which Chiron believes Hades has stolen. However, Zeus discovers Poseidon's broken oath and believes Percy stole the bolt. Percy has ten days before the summer solstice to find the symbol of power of the king of gods, and he is given magic shoes as a "gift" from Luke before leaving. However, Chiron tells him that it is a bad idea to use the shoes since Zeus might blast him out of the sky, so he gives them to Grover. Chiron hands over a pen to Percy, informing him that it is a gift from his father. When uncapped, a sword, called Riptide or Anaklusmos, appears. Percy, accompanied by Annabeth and Grover, travels to western Long Island, leading them closer to the Underworld in Los Angeles.

Starting the Quest

After Percy, Annabeth, and Grover are driven into town, they take a bus into New Jersey. When they get on the bus, three old ladies get on with them. Percy recognizes one of them as Mrs. Dodds. The Furies, as they are called, attack and they fight before they escape to Aunty Em's Garden Gnome Emporium. After they are served food, Aunty Em wants to take a picture of them to use as models for her statues. However, she tries to turn them to stone instead of using them as models because she is Medusa. Percy cuts off her head, and they leave. They find a lost dog, return it, and get $200. They buy train tickets with that money and get off at the Gateway Arch. When Percy is alone on the top, Echidna reveals herself, along with her pet, the Chimera. Percy battles the Chimera and is poisoned during the fight. Knowing that the water beneath him will purge the poison from his system, Percy jumps into the Mississippi River to escape the Chimera and is on the news — in a bad way.

Going Further West

In the Kindness International truck.

After Percy lands in the Mississippi River he discovers some of his powers which include breathing and staying dry underwater. A Nereid then appears and tells him to go to the ocean before he goes into the Underworld. Percy finds his friends, and they get back on the train and are taken to Denver. They get off, and go into a diner. Ares comes in and tells them to get his shield at Waterland, and, in turn, he would give them a ride west and information about Percy's mom. They go to Waterland and find out the ride was set up with a trap by Hephaestus. They get out with Aphrodite's Scarf and go back to the diner, and Ares shows them a Kindness International truck. He also reveals that Percy's mother is not dead; instead, she has been taken as a hostage by Hades.

Once they reach Las Vegas, a bellhop from the Lotus Hotel and Casino invites them to come in. Immediately, without even having to pay for anything, Percy, Annabeth, and Grover are given a room. After they enjoy the perks of staying in such a luxurious suite, they decide to go down to the arcade. After a while of playing, Percy finds a boy, Darrin, who thinks the year is 1977. Percy asks a few more people what the year is, to which they answer 1985 and 1993. Percy finds Annabeth and Grover and they immediately leave the hotel. They are relieved to find out from a newspaper that it is still the same year. However, 5 days have already passed, leaving only one day to retrieve the lightning bolt.

Reaching the Underworld

They eventually make it to the ocean. Percy walks in and gets a ride from a mako shark to the Nereid. She gives him three pearls, saying to use them when they were in great need. While searching for the entrance to the Underworld, they encounter Procrustes. He traps Annabeth and Grover using his signature technique — causing them to lie down on a bed while being stretched by ropes until they are exactly the same height of the bed — until Percy tricks him into lying down on one such bed. Procrustes is killed, and the trio proceed to DOA Recording Studios, the cover place for the gates to the Underworld, then enter. There, Percy bribes Charon into letting them in.

Ares, god of war.

Once inside, they discover that the entrance to the Underworld proper is being guarded by Cerberus. Annabeth then plays with the giant dog by using a little red ball, giving Percy and Grover enough time to pass. They walk through the Fields of Asphodel and pass by the path to the pit of Tartarus. As they approach the entrance to Tartarus, Luke's shoes try to pull Grover into it, but he manages to slip free. They manage to get to Hades' palace. Percy confronts Hades who believes that Percy stole the Master Bolt as well as his Helm of Darkness. Percy realizes that Ares has tricked him when he discovers the Master Bolt is in his backpack. He and his friends then use the pearls to flee from the Underworld without his mother as he was forced to leave her, thus fulfilling the line in the prophecy that states, "You shall fail to save what matters most in the end".

The Lightning Thief

The pearls return Percy, Grover, and Annabeth back to the ocean. They reach the shore, meet Ares, and confront him. Percy then challenges him to a fight. He uses Riptide to battle Ares. Percy eventually stabs him in the heel and Ares starts to bleed ichor. He is about to kill Percy when an evil force in the form of a dark aura convinces him to not strike Percy. Ares then leaves, giving Percy the Helm of Darkness. Percy tosses it to the Furies, and they take it back to Hades.

Percy flies back to New York City to give the lightning bolt to Zeus, despite the dangers of flying. (Due to the rivalry between Zeus and Poseidon...) He proceeds to the Empire State Building and reaches the top, where Olympus is currently located. Zeus accepts the bolt and Percy has a short talk with his father, Poseidon, before returning to camp, where he learns that his mother is alive. He bumps into Luke, who reveals that he stole the bolt and helm for Kronos and then calls out a poisonous scorpion which stings and nearly kills Percy. Percy is unconscious after the attempt to kill him. Luke manages to escape and leaves Camp Half-Blood. Chiron cures Percy and they, along with Annabeth, discuss Luke's betrayal. The camp beads are awarded, and the bead for this year — Percy's first year — is a black bead painted with a green trident in the middle. Annabeth leaves Camp Half-Blood for the first time, to live with her dad, step-mother, and two half siblings. Percy then leaves to attend another school his mother found.


This book's prophecy was given to Percy Jackson.

You shall go west, and face the god who has turned,
You shall find what was stolen, and see it safely returned,
You shall be betrayed by one who calls you a friend,
And you shall fail to save what matters most, in the end.

Unraveling of the Prophecy

  1. The group, Percy, Grover, and Annabeth, travel west to go and meet Hades, although the god who has turned was actually Ares.
  2. Percy later finds Zeus' lightning bolt in a backpack given to him by Ares. He returns it to Zeus, as well as Hades' Helm of Darkness, which was also in the possession of Ares.
  3. Luke, a son of Hermes whom Percy considered a friend, stole both Zeus' Master Bolt and Hades' Helm of Darkness, and later tries to kill Percy, ultimately betraying him.
  4. In the end, Percy fails to save his mother from the Underworld, though she is given back when Percy returns Hades' Helm of Darkness back to him.

Chapter list

  1. I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher
  2. Three Old Ladies Knit the Socks of Death
  3. Grover Unexpectedly Loses his Pants
  4. My Mother Teaches Me Bullfighting
  5. I Play Pinochle with a Horse
  6. I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom
  7. My Dinner Goes Up in Smoke
  8. We Capture a Flag
  9. I Am Offered a Quest
  10. I Ruin a Perfectly Good Bus
  11. We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium
  12. We Get Advice from a Poodle
  13. I Plunge to My Death
  14. I Become a Known Fugitive
  15. A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers
  16. We Take a Zebra to Vegas
  17. We Shop for Water Beds
  18. Annabeth Does Obedience School
  19. We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of
  20. I Battle My Jerk Relative
  21. I Settle My Tab
  22. The Prophecy Comes True
  23. (Preview of The Sea of Monsters)




  • Nancy Bobofit – One of the bullies at Yancy Academy and greatly disliked by Percy.
  • Gabe Ugliano – Sally's husband whom she married to cover up Percy's half-blood scent with his stench.
  • Sally Jackson – Percy's mother. Percy said that she can see through the Mist better than him. She married Gabe Ugliano, who's character is certainly disliked by Percy.


  • Chiron – A centaur and the activities director of camp. He is (or was) called Mr. Brunner as an alias. He was one of Percy's teachers at Yancy. His father is Kronos.
  • Fates - the three divine personifications of destiny. They control the metaphorical thread of life for every living thing from birth to death.
  • Argus – the security guard for Camp Half-Blood. He has blue eyes all over his body, and usually when heroes need to go on quests, he would drive them in the white van to a certain place, then head back to camp.
  • Charon - the Spirit of Boundaries and Territories. He is the ferryman that transports dead spirits to the Underworld.


  • Dionysus – God of wine and ritual madness. Goes by "Mr. D". He is the Director of Camp Half-Blood and despises Percy.
  • Poseidon – God of the Seas, Father of Horses, and Percy's father. One of The Big Three.
  • Ares – God of War, and Clarisse's father.
  • Hades – God and Ruler of the Underworld. One of The Big Three.
  • Zeus – God of the Sky, King and Ruler of the Gods and Heavens. He is the father of Thalia Grace, who was turned into the pine tree that enforces the magical barrier of camp when she had fallen in battle on top of Half Blood Hill. One of The Big Three.


  • Kronos – Appears as a voice in Percy's many nightmares throughout the book. Kronos tries to pull Grover, Annabeth, and Percy into the pit by the cursed shoes that Luke had given them so he could get the Master Bolt.



Deluxe Edition

The Lightning Thief deluxe edition.jpg

The Lightning Thief has been released in a deluxe edition version. The edition contains eight full-color plates by John Rocco, and comes with an elegant slipcase with a ribbon bookmark, rough edges, and a cloth cover.


  • Mark Twain Award 2008 (Missouri Association of School Librarians)
  • Bluebonnet Award Nominee (Texas Library Association)
  • Askews Torchlight Award (UK)
  • Best of the Best Book List (Chicago Public Library)
  • Top Shelf Fiction List (Voice of Youth Advocates)
  • Notable Book (American Library Association)
  • Best Book for Young Adults (Young Adult Library Services Association)
  • Red House Children's Book Award Winner (UK)
  • Choice Award; Notable Children's Book (Cooperative Children's Book Center)
  • National Council for Teachers of English, Publishers Weekly National Children's Bestseller
  • Warwickshire Book Award Winner (UK)
  • Beehive Award Winner 2006 (Children's Literature Association of Utah)
  • Maine Student Book of The Stupids


  • The book was originally titled The Son of the Sea God, but it was changed after feedback from Rick Riordan’s students stated it spoiled who Percy’s father was.
  • The titular "lightning thief" appears to refer to Percy, but actually refers to Luke.
  • In this book, Percy refers to other gods, or other gods refer to him by family names. Hades was repeatedly called uncle, Poseidon refers to Zeus as Percy's uncle, and Ares calls Percy his cousin. This, however, is not continued in the rest of the books, as Poseidon is the only god Percy refers to with a family name (calling him his father or dad).
  • I Kiss Something Ugly is one of the deleted chapters in The Lightning Thief. It was later presented on Rick Riordan's Facebook.
  • When Percy arrives at the lobby of the Empire State Building, he finds the guard at the front desk reading "a huge book with the picture of a wizard on the cover". The book was confirmed on Twitter to be a reference to the Harry Potter series.[3] This is one of Riordan's many references to popular culture throughout the series.


Covers and Artwork


  1. pg. 2 "See, bad things happen to me on field trips."
  2. The Lightning Thief Chapter 1 (I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher)

External links

Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Core Series: The Lightning Thief | The Sea of Monsters | The Titan's Curse | The Battle of the Labyrinth | The Last Olympian
Main Characters: Percy Jackson | Grover Underwood | Annabeth Chase | Tyson | Clarisse La Rue | Thalia Grace | Nico di Angelo | Chiron | Luke Castellan | Rachel Elizabeth Dare
Secondary Characters: Sally Jackson | Travis Stoll | Connor Stoll | Mrs. O'Leary | Silena Beauregard | Charles Beckendorf | Paul Blofis | Blackjack | Zoë Nightshade | Bianca di Angelo | Juniper | Ethan Nakamura
Minor Characters: Gabe Ugliano | Tantalus | Frederick Chase | Michael Yew | May Castellan | Austin Lake | Kayla Knowles | Maria di Angelo | Will Solace
Olympian Gods: Zeus | Hera | Poseidon | Demeter | Ares | Athena | Apollo | Artemis | Hephaestus | Aphrodite | Hermes | Dionysus | Hades | Hestia
Minor Gods: Amphitrite | Ariadne | Hecate | Iris | Janus | Morpheus | Nemesis | Pan | Persephone | Triton
Titans: Kronos | Atlas | Calypso | Iapetus | Krios | Hyperion | Oceanus | Prometheus
Mythical Creatures: Minotaur | Centaur | Furies | Satyr | Cyclops | Manticore | Ophiotaurus | Nemean Lion | Empousa
Related Content: Rick Riordan | The Lightning Thief (film) | Sea of Monsters (film) | The Demigod Files | Demigods and Monsters | The Ultimate Guide | The Heroes of Olympus | The Trials of Apollo | Percy Jackson Demigod Collection | Disney+ Series