WarningMight contain spoilers.

I imagine this is the answer to the question ‘What comes between the story’s darkest hour and the distant dawn?’. I still can’t believe Jason is dead. The book starts with his coffin being taken to Camp Jupiter for a funeral befitting a hero, but it’s so hard to accept that no ambrosia will be poured down his throat and no god will snap their fingers to restore him. It doesn’t help that New Rome is a shadow of its former self: no longer the city of heroes that withstood Gaia’s assault in The Blood of Olympus, it’s merely what remains after more death and destruction have been visited upon it.

The Trials of Apollo as a whole may be the awful callousness and cruelty of the gods as personified by Apollo writ large, but even so, the stories of how he tried to force the Cumaean Sybil to become his lover—without even mentioning that he cursed her to suffer for millennia after she rejected him—and of his punishing the crows for telling him a woman cheated on him, right before he has that woman killed while she’s pregnant with his child, are the nadir of the history of any god in the Percy Jackson universe. Somehow, his misdeeds seem despicable, reprehensible, and unforgivable in a way no villain’s actions ever have. That Reyna and Meg don’t abandon him immediately on learning this part of his history speaks volumes of their restraint and the direness of the circumstances.

Tyson, Ella, and the tattoos of the Sybilline books are good fun. The way the Arrow of Dodona has to spell out the identity of the silent god had me guffawing. Apollo’s important conversation with Reyna is a good distraction, especially her unexpected and thoroughly enjoyable refusal of his self-conscious proposal. I’m glad she finally gets a chance to laugh and to let go of the burden she’s been carrying as she sets off in pursuit of happiness.

On the other hand, the meeting with Harpocrates and the Sybil itself is steeped in sadness, bitterness, and anger. It’s a powerful tale, right down to Harpocrates concentrating with all his might so he can remove his finger from his mouth and kiss the jar before he dies.

Frank is such a hero. Thank goodness he doesn’t die. Despite all my love for Rick Riordan, I’m not sure I could have continued if he had died.[1] I would never have forgiven Artemis for her tardiness. (Speaking of which, it’s a good thing she ultimately makes an appearance, but she accomplishes so little.) Thank the gods for Frank’s cloak and that absolutely hilarious interlude earlier.

  1. Then again, perhaps the fact that he wouldn’t die is part of why I hold these series so dear.

Next in series: (#5 in Thoughts & Spoilers: Books: The Trials of Apollo (2016))