Review: The Tower of Nero

The Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan

4 stars – I liked it, it was good

Last book of the series! I’m sorry to see it end, but I’m also glad that I collected all five before reading them. I’ve never been good with cliff-hangers. As for the rest of Riordan’s books, my sights are set on The Sun and the Star and The Chalice of the Gods, to be released in May and September respectively.

Read: Mar. 15 – Mar. 19, 2023

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A Satisfying Conclusion

With Commodus and Caligula defeated, Lester (Apollo) and Meg set their sights back on New York, where Nero resides. He is the most powerful of the three, his base of operations is nearly impenetrable, and he has eyes everywhere; they don’t even get into the city without Nero’s men after them. With an incomplete prophecy, they must rely on both friend and foe to save the world from Nero and Python—and none of the gods can help.

I finished this series listening to the Audiobook Reading channel again. He still stutters over words and gets some wrong, but he’s great with voices and pacing and reading with passion. Click here to check out his channel and the other books that he’s reading.

I was so sad when this book ended, but it was such a good closing. Though not as good as some of the other books in the series, but it still rates four stars. It has the highest stakes and the most serious battles—physical, mental, and emotional alike—but the humour still pushes through. There aren’t as many silly solutions to their problems as in other books; most of them make logical sense. New creatures and characters were introduced, not only from Greek mythology, but from other places as well, such as Scotland and Persia. Reading this book was an overall enjoyable experience.

Nico and Will are back, as are many others from the first book as we come full circle. The Tower of Nero does really well in showing just how much Apollo has evolved as a person, and, in the words of Sally Jackson, how much he has “grown up.” Apollo is now different from the other gods. He knows what it’s like to be human, and he will remember it. It just makes me wish I could see how things go after this.

As I said, Will and Nico are back, and they play a large role in this story. I love their dynamic, as always, and how they’re quietly there for each other. They’re supportive of each other and in a really healthy place, I think. There are a few scenes hinting toward Riordan’s next book starring these two, The Sun and the Star (written together with Mark Oshiro), which I’m highly anticipating; I’ll probably shuffle a few things around on my TBR list to fit it in sooner once it releases in May.

There is also a scene hinting at another book, The Chalice of the Gods which is an adventure starring Percy, Annabeth, and Grover. It is set to be released at the end of September this year.

I’m surprised to find that I’m pleased with the lack of romance for Apollo in this series. The books instead focus on him healing from his romantic missteps, and also learning from his past bad behaviour. Riordan doesn’t sugar-coat Apollo’s past actions from the myths. The story about him skinning a satyr may have been false, but he has still done many horrible things as a god—most of which now make him recoil.

For Meg, the book dives back into her abusive relationship with Nero, and introduces other children he adopted over the years and raised to follow him. Not only does Apollo have to defeat his enemies, Meg has to overcome years of manipulation by Nero and properly step into herself. I will issue a trigger warning for readers—it does get quite real, so read at your own discretion.

I’m somewhat disappointed by how vows on the Styx were handled in series, if only because it usurps my previous beliefs about what it means to break an oath. For demigods, it was always believed that breaking an oath on the Styx invited immediate smiting, and for gods: harm unto their children. In this series, Apollo makes the vows to never practice archery and never use a musical instrument until he is a god again, which he breaks right away and continues to break for the next six months. However, there doesn’t seem to be anything bad that comes of it. Yes, he experiences pain, loss, and horrors, but nothing more than is typical for quests in the Riordanverse. I suppose it could be different for Apollo, a former god, but even with the explanation at the end of the book, I would prefer if it was handled some other way.

The pacing of the book didn’t feel rushed or too slow, but near the end, I wasn’t sure what to think about how everything was wrapped up. The final battle with Nero was satisfying (though I may have spoiled a few things for myself), but Apollo’s battle with Python was harder for me to picture, and therefore not as good as I was hoping. It surprised me in ways I enjoyed, though, and ended with a rush. Afterward was just some housekeeping: Apollo reuniting with his sister and with his friends, and getting back to a new normal.

I was so sad to see this series end, but it was a satisfying read—the book and the series as a whole. I highly recommend this entire series and all other books in the Percy Jackson world. It’s so immersive and entertaining. I’ve learned a lot from Rick Riordan’s work.

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2 responses to “Review: The Tower of Nero”

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