Title: The Dark Prophecy
Series: The Trials of Apollo #2
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mythology
Published: May 2nd, 2017 (Disney-Hyperion)
Synopsis: Go west. Capture Apollo before he can find the next oracle.
If you cannot bring him to me alive, kill him.
Those were the orders my old enemy Nero had given to Meg McCaffrey. But why would an ancient Roman emperor zero in on Indianapolis? And now that I have made it here (still in the embarrassing form of Lester Papadopoulos), where is Meg?
Meg, my demigod master, is a cantankerous street urchin. She betrayed me to Nero back at Camp Half-Blood. And while I’m mortal, she can order me to do anything . . . even kill myself. Despite all this, if I have a chance of prying her away from her villainous stepfather, I have to try.
But I’m new at this heroic-quest business, and my father, Zeus, stripped me of all my godly powers. Oh, the indignities and pain I have already suffered! Untold humiliation, impossible time limits, life-threatening danger . . . Shouldn’t there be a reward at the end of each completed task? Not just more deadly quests?
I vow that if I ever regain my godhood, I will never again send a poor mortal on a quest. Unless it is really important. And unless I am sure the mortal can handle it. And unless I am pressed for time . . . or I really just don’t feel like doing it myself. I will be much kinder and more generous than everyone is being to me—especially that sorceress Calypso. What does Leo see in her, anyway?
“There once was a god named Apollo
Who plunged in a cave, blue and hollow
Upon a three seater
The bronze fire eater
Was forced death and madness to swallow”
With the first of the oracles, the Grove of Dodona, restored, Apollo finally has a prophecy (though one in limerick form that apparently bodes ill), and with the newly returned Leo and Calypso along for the quest, Apollo heads west to Indianapolis to find the second oracle, Trophonius and face the next Emperor, Commodus. But his demigod master Meg betrayed him to Nero and has been ordered to find and capture Apollo before he can free the next oracle – and Meg can make Apollo do anything, even kill himself.
“It’s not how long you live that matters.
It’s what you live for.”
As with the first book, Apollo’s narration is an absolute delight to read, and the haikus in every chapter are hilariously appropriate. He still rather looks down his nose at humans, but the experiences and trials he is going through is fast changing that. Apollo is still largely his narcissistic self, but even as he recalls events from his past, he is starting to look upon his previous deeds through a different lens, recognizing that some of his actions were wrong and even regretting them – something godly him would never do.
Things are getting more exciting as we are finally in the ‘quest’ portion of this series, which means more or less continuous action. I love how this series is moving deeper into Greek and Roman mythology, to the stories that are not as widely known – and giving me a whole lot of stuff to look up and learn about in the process! The humour is still on point – can we take a second to appreciate how hilarious the Shakespeare-esque Arrow of Dodona is? And the blemmyae were a riot too!
It was also great to have Leo back (and Festus too!) – though we all knew he would turn up again eventually, I didn’t really expect another book where he would be a central character. Looks like our original heroes aren’t going to be on the sidelines after all, what with both Grover and Jason set to be in the sequel. I’m kind of ambivalent on Calypso for reasons I can’t really pinpoint, and she was an okay character for the most part, just not as stand out as I hoped she’d be, especially considering the amazing female characters we’ve seen so far, like Annabeth, Clarisse, Thalia, Reyna, Piper and so many others. It was just really hard to get a fix on her personality (of which I saw startlingly little) in the span of a single book, which, it appears, is all we’ll be getting.
I have to say though, the timescale in this series is really throwing me off. This book seems to take place over about five days and follows in close succession to book 1. And having read the next two books, this scale doesn’t change – does this mean this entire series is actually going to take place over approximately a month or so? It’s not a bad thing necessarily, but for the amount of things going on, it feels unrealistic that it could all be happening so close together.
With this book, I’ve finally finished my Percy Jackson re-read, and it’s surprising how many small details I’ve forgotten over the years! Though I remembered the basic plot, it was lovely to read all the books again, and listening to the audiobooks was definitely a good idea for these, as the narration is wonderful – I would highly recommend it! As for The Dark Prophecy itself, I don’t know how Rick Riordan manages it, but each book is better, not to mention funnier, than the last, and at this stage, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible for any book set in this world to be even remotely bad. Highly recommended!