The Trials of Apollo Book Two The Dark Prophecy
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. Somewhere in the American Midwest, he and his companions must find the most dangerous Oracle from ancient times: a haunted cave that may hold answers for Apollo in his quest to become a god again--if it doesn't kill him or drive him insane first. Standing in Apollo's way is the second member of the evil Triumvirate, a Roman emperor whose love of bloodshed and spectacle makes even Nero look tame. To survive the encounter, Apollo will need the help of son of Hephaestus Leo Valdez, the now-mortal sorceress Calypso, the bronze dragon Festus, and other unexpected allies--some familiar, some new--from the world of demigods. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride. . . .
Hang onto your griffin! It's another wild ride.
Apollo, disguised as the mortal Lester Papadopolous, is traveling with Leo and Calypso after their adventures in Trials of Apollo. They are searching for Meg, Apollo's demigod master, and their search has taken them to Indianapolis. There, they are attacked by extremely polite but terrifying blemmyae, and seek refuge in the Waystation, which is protected by Emmie and Jo, who were both Hunters for Artemis but had to leave because of their romance. They are upset because their daughter Georgina has been taken by one of the triumvirate, and before they will help Apollo in his quest, ask that he save two of their griffins and find Georgina. Britomartis, a minor deity with whom Apoloo has had dealings in the past, offers to help, and the group is off to the Indianapolis zoo to use magic tater tots to get the griffins home. Lityerses, a minion of the "new Hercules" who is trying to take over Indianapolis, is out to get Apollo, but eventually ends up on his side. Once Georgina is found, it is determined that her memory has been impaired, and Apollo must find the throne of Mnemosyne to help restore it. This involves another quest, which also helps determine that Apollo must travel to the case of his son Trophinus to receive his prophecy before the forces of evil can receive theirs. Meg shows up and helps him with this, but because she doesn't properly prepare herself, her mind is addled. Trophinus is still angry over the treatment that he received from his father, so makes it more difficult for him to get the prophecy, but eventually delivers it. Apollo returns to the Waystation with Meg so that she can be healed, but the journey isn't over yet. A character from one of the other books shows up at the very end to take Apollo and Meg through the Labyrinth so that they can complete their mission.
Descriptions like Apollo being cursed with "a case of acne that would not respond to over-the-counter medicine" or random facts like the 3 Mile Island disaster being caused by an epic chainsaw fight between Hephaestus and Ares, caused by an insult to Ares bell-bottom jeans, or even phrases like "battle ukelele" are brilliantly delightful. I find myself not paying much attention to the plot because I just want to swim in the wonderful stream of words and phrases.
The other wonderful part of Riordan's writing is his inclusion of very obscure mythological characters, and the way that he manages to work their mythological story into his own. There is a glossary of characters and words at the back of the book that is very helpful, but I always feel like I need to have a copy of Edith Hamilton next to me so that I can refresh my memory of some of the stories. I hope that younger readers will be similarly inclined.
When The Lightning Thief came out in 2005, I (as a former Latin teacher) was thrilled just to have ONE middle grade book about mythology. Now there are multiple series by Mr. Riordan, as well as books by Anne Ursu, K.L. Armstrong, Zoe Marriott and many other authors, covering the mythology of different cultures. Not only that, put Riordan has been given a Disney-Hyperion imprint, Rick Riordan Presents, that will showcase adventures that include the folklore of different cultures.
Give Riordan books to anyone who loves mythology, action, or just a really good, well-turned phrase!