The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
4 stars – I liked it, it was good
So, second book in the series. This copy (along with the third book) was a gift from a friend and is a paperback instead of a hardcover.
Read: Feb. 21 – Mar. 3, 2023
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A Very Inventive Quest
Still mortal but now armed with a prophecy, albeit a limerick one, Apollo sets out with Leo and Calypso to find the bearer of dark prophecies—the Oracle of Trophonius. Apollo’s divine powers are sporadic at best, but with help, he may just succeed, and find his lost demigod master Meg McCaffrey along the way.
I also listened along to this book on Youtube, though the reader (check out her channel here) didn’t get to the end of it, so I read the last few chapters on my own. I’m hoping to find another channel to listen to the third book.
Following the theme of The Hidden Oracle, this book is written in a casual first-person narrative from Apollo’s perspective. The chapter titles are each (bad) haikus, and there is generous usage of parentheses as Apollo inserts extra thoughts into the text. I’ve always loved the imaginative and childish tone of Riordan’s writing, along with the ways his characters escape scenarios. It doesn’t work for a more serious audience, but as these books are for kids, it fits perfectly—though it is a little silly at times, like how Percy and Annabeth pretended to be tourists in Tartarus in The House of Hades to escape Nix and her children. Some people may not enjoy such a childish method of problem solving (as it doesn’t make sense for villains to fall for such obvious tricks), but I like letting my inner child giggle at it. At the same time, it knows to be serious when more sensitive topics come up—and it’s not shy about dealing with the harsher realities of the world. The jokes don’t make light of these topics, but rather allow us to deal with them with enough humour to not fall into despair (like how Shakespeare interrupts his tragedies with Fools and other humorous characters).
Nico and Will aren’t in this book, but there is another same-sex couple who is introduced later on. Apollo, of course, is the main LGBT character, and the book works well in normalizing it. He shares his attraction to both males and females, and there’s no extra-bright spotlight like you see from books that are trying too hard. Still, I’m interested in whether Apollo will get a love interest further on in the story, or if he will be getting closure from his previous relationships. I’m expecting Hyacinthus and Daphne to come up again at the very least.
Though Apollo learned a lot from the first book, he’s still a god at heart and gods don’t change easily. He is still self-centered (as the sun god, the world literally revolves around him), and doesn’t really concern himself with others, but he’s learning to care about what happens to mortals, and he is working to fix things. The book explores his struggles and fairly depicts how immortals would view the world with such nonchalance. The highest-high and lowest-low moods are less prominent in this book than they were in the first one, though Apollo still has intense bouts of self-doubt and delusions of grandeur. At the same time, I can’t help but feel worried about Apollo’s continuous breaking of his oath on the River Styx.
With Leo and Calypso back in the picture along with Festus, Apollo has a ride west to face the second emperor, and I’ve enjoyed reading about their growth. I’m still kind of disappointed in the gods for not fulfilling their oath to Percy (to release Calypso from her island), but he didn’t give them a time limit, so it makes sense that Leo could take over the job of freeing her from her curse. However, Calypso no longer has her immortality nor her magical abilities. In this, Apollo can relate to her, as he is much the same way. This gives him the chance to learn a thing or two from her, and their interactions are quite humorous. My one hesitation is that even though Calypso is physically sixteen, she is still an immortal (and several thousand years old), and I find it slightly uncomfortable to think about her in a relationship with Leo, who is a fifteen/sixteen-year-old demigod. (More so her almost-relationship with Percy, who was fourteen when he landed on her island.) Even if they’re the same age physically, Leo is still a teenager.
Furthermore, the book discusses poor family (parent-child) dynamics, specifically between Apollo and his dad, and Meg and her stepfather, Nero. Abuse and gaslighting are very real problems in the world, and I think they are handled well in this book.
If I were to nitpick, I would point out that the ancient rules of interference don’t really stay consistent, considering some of the things that Apollo describes, but I can overlook that.
Since I listened to the book aloud at double-speed (or 1.75x speed) I can’t complain about the pacing. I read for about an hour each day, so it was fast-paced reading but also not rushed. I may read longer each day for the next book, though, as I want to stay on top of my reading goal for this year. The only problem I found with having it read aloud to me is that I have to follow along closely in the book, and sometimes the videos are interrupted by ads (always annoying). That’s it, though. I especially enjoyed the pieces of fanart that @booksreadaloud7824 included in her videos. Too bad the book wasn’t finished. I would’ve loved listening to her read the rest of the series.
If you loved the first book, you’ll love this one too. I highly recommend continuing this series, and I just know that I will enjoy the third book, which continues this fantastical adventure with new stakes.
Want to read my other reviews for this series? Click below!