Book Review: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Posted January 9, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
Genres: Mythic Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published by Disney-Hyperion Books on May 2, 2017
Pages: 414
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also by this author: The House of Hades, The Hidden Oracle, The Titan's Curse, The Sword of Summer, The Hammer of Thor, The Ship of the Dead, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian

Second in The Trials of Apollo mythic fantasy series (and seventh in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians universe) for middle-grade readers and revolving around the punished Apollo, er, Lester.

In 2017, The Dark Prophecy was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Middle Grade & Children’s.

My Take

So, for all my whining about the cover, this was great. Apollo/Lester cracks me up with his selfishness. (This could be a good talking-point for parents.) His whinging back and forth between his lack of godly abilities and the usual torments of being a sixteen-year-old with zits, creates such a dichotomy between a god and a human teen, and all in Apollo’s self-centered view that you can’t help laughing.

It’s a story of regrets as well as self-reflection…and a reflection that goes both ways, as Apollo manages to see where he went “wrong” as well as how anyone could possibly think he was anything less than fabulous. It’s quite contradictory and very laugh-worthy.

There are gay references in The Dark Prophecy, primarily Apollo’s attraction to anything gorgeous. He’s not picky, and it is so in character for him. On the other hand, Emmie and Jo have a beautiful relationship that Riordan doesn’t push at us.

That Apollo…he is so incredibly obnoxious and all about music, singers, performers, and its genres through the ages…poetry…and how fabulous he is. And in his own way, slowly as the story progresses, Apollo begins to question his past actions in his first person protagonist point-of-view. Well, it is all about me, me, me…

Oh, man, I’m cracking up all over again, as I read Calypso’s chorus as Lester starts storytelling, trying to gain time to formulate a plan, to escape. ROFL. Friends-wise, Apollo needs Leo and Cal…and anyone else who’ll step up, for despite his hurried training in The Hidden Oracle, 1, Apollo still thinks too slowly.

Riordan continues that mighty dent in the heroes’ ability to communicate and plan in cutting out all communication, let alone depriving Apollo of his abilities as a god, lol, so there is plenty of action as Apollo interacts with “friends”, friends, family, and the enemy. Riordan must have had a ball with the blemmyae’s need to be polite. He certainly took advantage of it with Apollo’s “speeches”.

I want to live in a Waystation! I love how creative it is and accessible, although I do wish it were handier in the gardens and stables.

The Story

With the first Oracle saved, Lester has left Camp Half-Blood and is winging his way across America with heroes who think they’re his friends.

He’s lucky that his new friends are so good-hearted, as they slowly work their way into Lester’s heart and graces, befriending and saving by example.

The Characters

Lester Papadopoulos used to be Apollo until his dad, Zeus, got mad and took away his godhood. He carries a combat ukulele and his bow and arrow, including the Arrow of Dodona that speaks in Shakespearean rhyme. (Rhea is Apollo’s hippie grandmother and patron of the Grove of Dodona.) Meg McCaffrey is a demigod (a daughter of Demeter), Lester’s master until he gets back his Apollo-ness, and one of Lester, er, I mean, Apollo’s better friends. Until she betrayed him to Nero. Peaches is a karpos, a creature whom Meg befriended.

Leonidas “Leo” Valdez is a demigod (and child of Hephaestus) who is friends with Festus, the dragon he made. Calypso, a.k.a., Cal, is Leo’s girlfriend and a daughter of the Titan Atlas; Zoë had been her half-sister.

The Waystation, a.k.a., the House of Nets, was…
…built in the 1880s as a refuge for the supernatural and now it’s headquarters for its current caretakers, Emmie (a.k.a., Hemithea, whom Apollo had made into a god) and Jo (her mortal dad was a mechanic back in the 1920s), who carries Little Bertha, an old-fashioned machine gun; both are former Hunters for Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister. Georgina is the daughter they adopted.

Agamethus, Trophonius’ half-brother (they share a mother, the wife of King Erginus), is a ghost who haunts the Waystation. Trophonius, Apollo’s very angry son, is now the spirit of the Dark Oracle that drives people insane, located just outside Indianapolis. The Throne of Memory was carved by Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory and a Titan.

Heloise and Abelard are a pair of mating griffins. Britomartis is the goddess of nets, and the Lucy to Apollo’s Charlie Brown.

Artemis’ hunters include…
Hunter Kowalski, Thalia Grace is the leader of the Hunters and Artemis’ lieutenant, and Iphigenia. Moonwater is an energy drink for Hunters.

Commodus is…
…part of the triumvirate of evil emperors that includes Nero. Ol’ Commode, er, Commodus is also known as the New Hercules, and is based in Indianapolis. Marcus Aurelius was his strict father. Commodus goes through praetorian prefects like a hot knife through butter and include Lord Cleander and Lityerses, who is Midas’ boy and also known as the Cornhusker. The blemmyae are extremely polite and rather stupid. They do make useful “shock” troops for Commodus and include Nanette and a ranger named Eduardo.

Nero is…
…the second of the known evil emperors and subverted Meg in The Hidden Oracle. Vortigern is the Germani bodyguard whom Nero assigns to Meg. Marcus is another escort.

Commodus’ prisoners include Sssssarah, a dracaena; Olujime, a.k.a., Jamie, is a paid mixed martial arts fighter (and accountant!) using Gidigbo (a Yoruban wrestling style) and Dambe, which is a more violent Hausa sport; Livia is an unhappy elephant; and, a couple of Waystation resident demigods, Deacon and Stan.

Back at Camp Half-Blood
Kayla and Austin are Apollo’s children. Rachel Elizabeth Dare is the Oracle there.

Staphylus, a demigod son of Dionysus, had been the king of Naxos and Emmie’s dad. Rhoeo and Parthenos had been Emmie’s sisters. Python is an ancient foe of Apollo’s who has taken over Delphi. Styx is the goddess of hatred and an Underworld river and the eldest daughter of a Titan, Oceanus. Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos are the Fates. The Teumessian Fox is a monster. The Erythraean Sybil is another ancient Oracle who communicates in acrostics.

Camp Jupiter, New Rome, is…
…in California where many of Leo’s friends are, including Ella, a harpy who is using her photographic memory to reconstruct lost books; Frank Zhang; Hazel; and, Reyna.

Jason Grace is Thalia’s brother who is going to school in L.A. with his girlfriend, Piper McLean. Grover Underwood is an important satyr, a Lord of the Wild…and Apollo’s new guide.

Sally Jackson is Percy Jackson’s human mother.

The Cover and Title

The cover is darkly mythic in its empurpled collage of Apollo and Meg riding Heloise and Abelard out of captivity over the heads of the war ostriches clad in their spiked helmets. A dark band at the bottom indicates that this is Book Two, of what appears to be The Dark Prophecy. Why can’t these cover designers pay attention?! Put this series info up where the series name is!!! At the top in an embossed sunny gold right below the embossed red of the author’s name. You know, where a smart person would put the NAME of the FRICKIN’ BOOK! Can you tell I really hate how Riordan pumps the series information as more important than the title?? Oy. So, anyway, the teeny title is at the very bottom in white. Not important. Nothing to see here.

The title is actually The Dark Prophecy and NOT The Trials of Apollo. I suspect this title refers to the Oracle outside Indianapolis.

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