The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The basics

Title: The Lightning Thief


Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1

- The Lightning Thief (June 2005)
- The Sea of Monsters (April 2006)
- The Titan's Curse (May 2007)
- The Battle of the Labyrinth (March 2008)
- The Last Olympian (May 2009)
Spin-off series: Heroes of Olympus

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

Read a full summary of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Lightning Thief and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

In short

Percy Jackson discovers that he’s a demigod (half human, half Greek god) and goes off to live and train at Camp Half-Blood. After being accused of having stolen Zeus’s lightning bolt, he has to go on a quest to prove his innocence to the rest of the gods to prevent a war between the gods. You know, just every day stuff.


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.

What happened in The Lightning Thief?

  • On a class trip to a museum, Percy’s math teacher turns out to be a monster, which is kind of a shock to him. Luckily his friend and protector Grover (actually a satyr) and teacher Mr Brunner (actually a centaur named Chiron) save him.
  • Grover and Percy’s mother bring him to Camp Half-Blood. On the way, Percy’s mother is taken and Percy fights the Minotaur (the one from King Minos’s labyrinth). Because, you know, mythical creatures still exist.
  • At Camp Half-Blood, Percy discovers that he’s the son of Poseidon and meets his fellow campers, including Annabeth (the daughter of Athena and super smart.) and Luke (the son of Hermes).
  • THEN Zeus’s lightning bolt gets stolen and Percy is being accused because Zeus thinks that Poseidon wants to take over power by involving his son. Now Percy needs to prove his innocence and clear his father’s name.
  • Percy goes on a quest with Annabeth and Grover and has to find the lightning bolt before summer solstice, when the gods come together. Since he’s certain that Hades’s is the one who actually stole the bolt, they head over to L.A., where the Underworld is.
  • On the way, they encounter several monsters such as the Furies (Percy’s maths teachers Mrs Dodds is one of them), Medusa (they decapitate her) and Echidna (with her monster dog the Chimera, who Percy escapes by jumping of a tower into the water).
  • They also meet Ares, who tells Percy his mother is still alive and being hold hostage by Hades. Ares also gives him a backpack.
  • When they finally get to the Underworld, Hades accuses Percy of having stolen his Helm of Darkness (because, you know, apparently Percy steals everything).
  • It turns out that the lightning bolt is, in fact, in the backpack that Ares gave to Percy, and they have to flee from the Underworld before Percy has a chance to save his mother.
  • Percy fights Ares, who is the one who stole Hades’s Helm of Darkness, beats him and retrieves the helm.
  • Then Percy has to get the hell back to New York and to Olympus, which is, of course, on top of the Empire State Building. He returns the bolt to Zeus, the helm to Hades and is cleared of all accusations.

How did it end?

Percy gets back to Camp Half-Blood, after having returned the lightning bolt, to spend the rest of his summer in peace. Not. Because then Luke admits to Percy that he was the one who stole the lightning bolt, and that he did it for Kronos, king of the Titans, to cause a war between the gods. After this revelation, he summons a poisonous scorpion which nearly kills Percy. Percy is saved by Chiron and goes back to live with his mother in New York. Grover goes on a quest to save the long lost nature god Pan, the hero of all satyrs.

Any weird terminology?

Olympians: The ruling Greek gods.
Titans: Parents of the Olympians, who were defeated by the Olympians in the Titan war. They have been rotting in the Tartarus (the darkest place of the Underworld) since, and in this book it is revealed that their leader, Kronos, wants revenge.
Camp Half-Blood: The secret summer camp / training facility where demigods go to train for fighting monsters.
Centaur: Half human, half horse. Example: Chiron.

Demigod (or hero): Half human, half Greek god.
Satyr: Half human, half goat. Example: Grover.
Fury: Three monsters that serve Hades. Percy’s maths teacher, Mrs Dodds, is one of them.

Iris message: A message communicated via rainbows between gods or demigods.
The Mist: A magical “cloud” that keeps humans from seeing what’s really there. For example, when humans would come near Camp Half-Blood, they would see nothing.

Greek Gods:

  • Zeus: king of the gods, god of the sky and thunder (brother of Poseidon and Hades, husband of Hera)
  • Poseidon: god of the sea and earthquakes (brother of Zeus and Hades, Percy’s father)
  • Hades: god of the Underworld (brother of Zeus and Poseidon)
  • Hera: queen of the gods, goddess of marriage and family (wife of Zeus)
  • Ares: god of war
  • Athena: goddess of war strategy and wisdom (Annabeth’s mother)
  • Aphrodite: goddess of love (wife of Hephaestus)
  • Dionysus: god of wine, Camp Half-Blood leader
  • Demeter: goddess of agriculture and nature
  • Apollo: god of light, music, poetry, prophecy and the sun (twin of Artemis)
  • Artemis: goddess of hunt, animals and the moon (twin of Apollo)
  • Hephaestus: god of blacksmiths (husband of Aphrodite)
  • Hermes: god of thieves, messenger of the gods (Luke’s father)

This is a full plot summary of what happened in The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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