Zeus has punished his son Apollo–god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more–by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo/Lester do anything about them without his powers?
After experiencing a series of dangerous–and frankly, humiliating–trials at Camp Half-Blood, Lester must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships–with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride. . . .
Apollo’s second starring role as a god-turned-human forced to complete mere mortal quests followed on in much the same vein as his first. He’s still obnoxious, self-absorbed, whiny, irritating, and arrogant, although that’s being slowly knocked out of him. But this time around he’s teamed up with a formerly immortal sorceress and a wise-cracking fireproof demigod to try and release the second oracle and defeat the second emperor.
This book certainly doesn’t stand on its own, but I wouldn’t expect it to. It very clearly follows on from The Hidden Oracle and doesn’t do a whole lot of explaining about what happened in the preceding installments. Actually, while it was alright at callbacks to the previous book, references to characters who have appeared in other series (Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I mean) were sparse – they were simply presented as if the reader would know who they were. Now I did know who they were, but that’s beside the point.
Generally, though, this is another strong appearance in Riordan’s pantheon of Greek God literature. Apollo/Lester’s very obnoxiousness is actually what makes him stand out more as a narrator than the largely interchangeable Magnus/Percy/Jason of the previous series’ offerings, which is a strength of this one. Again, Apollo’s bisexual orientation is clearly pointed out, and the central new couple of the book are a lesbian couple raising a small child, which is lovely. Lots of old characters make new appearances, and there’s a lot of humour, snark, desperation, and non-Godly frustration.
Again, the appearance or lack thereof of Apollo’s Godly powers is unexplained, but at least in-text it’s pointed out that Apollo himself has no idea how to turn them on or off, so there’s a degree of consistency (albeit not much). No short story at the end of this one meant that I got content all the way to the end, with a satisfying resolution to the story of this story and a big setup for a continuing adventure in books three four and five.
Most importantly? My favourite character, Peaches, the karpoi, makes some stunning appearances, with two new buddies, Peaches and Also Peaches. I got some laughs out of that one.
Overall? I thoroughly enjoyed this, and am looking forward to the next installment already.