You should drop Harry Potter and pick up Percy Jackson. Really.

7 min readJun 15, 2020
A few well-worn copies of the Riordanverse books.

At a first glance, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson look very similar.

They both feature a young (pre-)teenage boy as the protagonist, who discovers he has powers, goes to a special place to train, and then has to team up with a group of friends to fight monsters, rescue friends, and take down an evil enemy. Both even share many of the same creatures and monsters: A three-headed dog, ghosts, dragons… Both series have legions of fans — and, indeed, those groups of fans often overlap.

Recently, though, Rick Riordan’s famous Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (and its sequels and spinoffs) have been held up as examples of including diversity and representation, especially in the wake of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s transphobic Tweets and comments. People who were once die-hard fans of Harry Potter are now rallying around the mythology-based Riordanverse as an alternative.
After all, in contrast to the conspicuous lack of representation in Harry Potter, Riordan’s books boast a diverse cast of characters (including Nico di Angelo, Piper McLean, Alex Fierro, Carter Kane, Samirah al-Abbas… the list goes on). Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor even won a Stonewall award for “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience” due to its inclusion of Alex Fierro, a genderfluid character.

In contrast, Harry Potter features very few characters that are not white, cishet, and neurotypical — at least in a positive light. Of course, Rowling has famously stated that Albus Dumbledore is gay — although she never bothered to put that fact into the text of her books.

Obviously, Riordan (affectionally nicknamed “Uncle Rick” by his fans) makes an effort into including a diverse range of characters in every way. Best of all, these inclusions feel natural — Riordan’s characters don’t give the feeling of having been shoehorned in as “token” diversity; all of his characters have depth and personality, and give off a sense of genuineness that Rowling’s insistence that Dumbledore is gay just can’t compare to. Whether that’s Samirah al-Abbas’s religion, Nico di Angelo’s sexuality, or Carter Kane’s race, the characters are fleshed out, and their unique aspects discussed — but never…


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