The Dark Prophecy is the second book in the series, The Trials Of Apollo, by Rick Riordan. The series is set in the Percy Jackson universe with some overlapping characters.
Apollo has been cast down to Earth in the body of a gawky mortal teen named Lester Papadopoulos by his father Zeus. Apollo has to complete several complex tasks before he redeems himself in the eyes of his angry father, to regain his immortality.
In this book Apollo has to retrieve a prophecy from the oracle of Trophonius. With the help of Leo Valdez, Calypso, and new friends Josephine and Hemithea, mortal ex hunters of Artemis (yes there is an interesting back story), Apollo sets out on this perilous quest. He is hindered by a blood thirsty cruel emperor who was once upon a time a close friend. On the bright side Apollo finds his lost friend and instructor, Meg McCaffery.
During the quest, Apollo encounters many ghosts from his past. He sees the people and situations he was quick to judge with his immortal eyes, from a new perspective. Forced into their shoes, he learns to empathize with mortals.
Eventually Apollo must face the worst demons of his past, but has his time as a mortal sufficiently prepared him? Read on to find out.
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- The book meshes fiction with history and mythology so well that it is hard to tell where the line is. For example Commodus’s assassination in 192 AD, as described in the story, is not so far from the truth and only has a tiny twist. A few years after his death, Commodus was deified by Septimius Severus justifying his immortality in the story.
- Riordan has a wonderful ability to integrate the modern lives of gods and demigods with their ancient stories and characters, seamlessly intertwining technology with divinity and magic. Riordan retains the basic attributes of the historical and mythological characters, while often greatly exaggerating some aspects of their personalities or deeds. There are also plenty of entertaining pop culture references and mentions of Google maps and Wikipedia.
- I loved the hilarious interactions between Apollo and the Arrow of Dodona, who talks like a Shakespearean character. I particularly liked the directions the arrow gave Apollo to the cave of Trophonius.
Arrow: Thou shalt seest a roadside stand which selleth fresh eggs
Arrow: This roadside stand is not important. Keep driving.
In fact the entire book is quite funny. The absurdly polite dialogue of the Blemmyae, Apollo’s witty commentary, some great puns and similes had me laughing out loud a few times.
- Apollo acknowledges gods from other cultures like the Hindu God Indra and laments his lack of knowledge about sub Saharan Gods. He talks of multiple manifestations of the same God and encourages humans to be more open minded and tolerant of different cultures.
- Apollo’s character matures through the book as he is forced to look at the world from a different perspective. While he learns to be less judgemental of mortals, he is surprised to discover, that as a mortal he experiences joys, that he was denied, as a God.
- The last prophecy in the book is expressed as a Shakespearean sonnet, the form which is explained. Apollo even explains the iambic pentameter rhythm of the ending couplet of the sonnet.
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- I read this without reading the previous book in the series, The Hidden Oracle, and still enjoyed it thoroughly. I have, however, read the Percy Jackson & The Olympians and The Heroes Of Olympus series, so I was familiar with the fantasy universe in which the book is set.
- Every time I read one of Riordan’s books, I spend a good amount of time researching various mythological beings or historical / mythological events on the internet and learn something new.
- Apollo’s being cast down to Earth as a mortal, Lester, is reminiscent of Prabhasa being cursed with mortal life as Bhishma.
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- Greek gods and monsters collide with hyperactive modern day teens at breakneck pace for an eventful and entertaining ride.
Addictive cocktail of adventure, humour and Greek mythology.
A copy of this book was given me by Penguin Random House India in return for an honest review. Thanks Penguin.