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Literature / The Trials of Apollo

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I will never understand how you mortals tolerate it. You live your entire life trapped in a sack of meat, unable to enjoy simple pleasures like changing into a hummingbird or dissolving into pure light.

Myth Master Rick Riordan's third adventure with the demigods at Camp Half-Blood, The Trials of Apollo are just that. Having angered his father Zeus at the end of The Heroes of Olympus, the sun god Apollo wakes up six months later after face-planting in a dumpster. He quickly deduces he's been turned mortal as punishment and that usually means a demigod will claim his services until his father is satisfied and he can reclaim his godly status. While he initially hopes that demigod will be prior POV character Percy Jackson, a new demigod named Meg McCaffrey gets to it first.

At Camp Half-Blood, Apollo is quickly welcomed by three of his children, and learns that the camp has been more or less cut off from the outside world. No new demigods have made it in, and no phone calls, e-mails, or Iris-messages can connect. No one has made contact with Camp Jupiter. No one can receive prophecies. The only way to fix things is a quest, but the only way to get a quest is to hear a prophecy— as Apollo describes it, a Catch-88; like a Catch-22, but four times as bad.


The sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus, it consists of five books:

  • The Hidden Oracle, released on May 3, 2016
  • The Dark Prophecy, released on May 2, 2017
  • The Burning Maze, released on May 1, 2018
  • The Tyrant's Tomb, released on September 24, 2019
  • The Tower of Nero, to be released September 29, 2020
As well as two companion books:
  • Camp Half-Blood Confidential, released on May 2, 2017
    • Camp Jupiter Classified: A Probatio's Journal, to be released on May 5, 2020


This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Nero/The Beast is this towards Meg.
    • Zeus also has a history of inflicting Disproportionate Retribution on Apollo, especially when he was a young god, with Apollo even comparing the two. Then again, given that Apollo's an Unreliable Narrator, the latter may not be entirely true.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Apollo will throw away his own pride in a heartbeat if it gives him a chance to save his friends. In the Cave of Trophonious, he begs Trophonious to leave Meg alone and take him instead. Later on when Apollo is escaping the cave, he begs one of Commodus's minions to kill him but let Meg live.
  • All Myths Are True:
    • Apollo mentions a few other sun gods that'll pick up his slack while he's in human form (plus the scientific working of things), including one that we've never had mentioned before (the Aztecs).
    • In The Dark Prophecy, he complains about having to swerve the sun chariot to avoid running into Chinese celestial dragons and references a past trip to find a type of curry with Indra of Hindu lore.
    • Jamie is a demigod from a different godly pantheon originating from Africa tied to the Yoruba people.
    • The Samnite and Babylonian pantheons are mentioned in The Burning Maze. Apollo mentions in a flashback that among the gods who had to back away by the Romans' expansion was Marduk, the Babylonian god of water.
    • The Tyrant's Tomb mentions Nang Kwak, the Thai goddess of household, at one point.
    • Though Egyptian mythology is canon in The 'Verse and has crossed over in spinoffs, The Tyrant's Tomb, which features the Egyptian-Greek god of silence, Harpocrates, marks the first time an Egyptian deity actually pops up in the main series.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Cecil Markowitz, whose surname is so Jewish it hurts, but has no indication at all of being one. Averted with Lavinia Asimov in The Tyrant's Tomb, who wears a Star of David necklace and directly mentions her upbringing to Apollo.
  • And I Must Scream: While most gods who fade away rejoin the Chaos, it is revealed that it is possible for them to stick around in the universe if they have enough will to tether them. However, they will be stuck in Tartarus as a misshapen essence, eternally suffering and having no way to go back to the surface, since they are but a shadow now. Helios is an example of those who choose this fate due to his hatred of Apollo taking his mantle. And he has been stuck in this self-inflicted hatred for millennia. However, this is actually a ruse told by Medea. Helios is no fan of Apollo, but his predicament on Earth has nothing to do with hating him. Instead, it is because Medea chained him.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: When Coach Hedge attacks an automaton with a Roundhouse Kick, Apollo says that roundhouse is infamously difficult and even Ares has trouble with it. Roundhouse is one of the basic kicks in martial arts. Of course, given that Ares in mythology is a Miles Gloriosus and beaten up by pretty much everything, it is possible Ares just claimed it was difficult.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Apollo, went from a side character to a main character.
    • The Apollo campers, including Will and Kayla, by virtue of proximity to the title character. While Will has been a semi-major character since The Blood of Olympus (thanks to being Nico's boyfriend), Kayla only has a few mentions before this series.
    • Demeter, by extension of having a relevant demigod child.
    • Several other campers who only get cursory mentions in previous books have larger roles as well. Miranda of the Demeter cabin is a Living Prop in The Lost Hero, but here she's very important to the plot. As is Cecil of the Hermes cabin, who also receives a last name, Markowitz.
    • Calypso goes from being a mere Girl of the Week to a main character in the second book.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: As part of his plan to destroy Camp Half-Blood, Nero had his Colossus Neronus reconstructed and brought to life with animating magic. It stands twice as tall as the Athena Parthenos, and actually smashes through the magical barrier to Camp Half-Blood.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: In The Tyrant's Tomb, Reyna resigns as praetor to be replaced by Hazel, who in turn is replaced by Lavinia as centurion of the Fifth Cohort.
  • Badass Gay: Nico and Will return from the previous series. The Dark Prophecy introduces Josie and Emmie, two middle-aged lesbian couple who oversee the Waystation. The Tyrant's Tomb features Lavinia Asimov, a Roman demigoddess who has a relationship with a female nature spirit.
  • Being Human Sucks: Apollo's reaction to his punishment. Throughout the book he often describes how amazing it was to be a god, what with his sun chariot, various magical powers, and divine beauty. It's also noted in the two previous incidents he was turned mortal, he still had at least some of his divine powers. Now that he's fully mortal he has to deal with the horrors of injury, fatigue, and acne.
  • Big Bad: Each book has a different one.
    • The Hidden Oracle has Nero, the Emperor of the East
    • The Dark Prophecy has Commodus, the Emperor of the Middle.
    • The Burning Maze has Caligula, the Emperor of the West. However, Medea is clearly shown as the more dominant figure, considering that more than half of the book is spent on preventing the Burning Maze (which Medea is responsible for waking) from scorching up Southern California. She is even the villain of the climactic confrontation with the heroes.
    • The Tyrant's Tomb features the return of Commodus and Caligula and introduces a new threat: Tarquin.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Actually, it's a Triumvirate. Although collectively, they seem to be this to Python.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The myrmekes, giant mythological ants.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Percy Jackson in the finale of The Hidden Oracle.
    • In The Burning Maze, Piper arrives to stab Medea from behind while Apollo is struggling to fight against her magic. Incitatus and the rest of Caligula's army, on the other hand, get squashed flat by the Meliae.
    • The Tyrant's Tomb has twofold. First, Lavinia and the other magical creatures manage to sabotage Caligula's fleet, causing their Greek fire catapults to backfire. Second, Diana and her Hunters show up to save Apollo in New Rome's library, just as he is turning completely into Tarquin's zombie.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Despite being reduced to a mortal form, Apollo still possesses strong magic in his music, and his archery skills are still fantastic (though pathetic by his standards). He also heals abnormally quickly, and has been able to summon some of his godly powers in times of great duress.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • Apollo is mortal now, not even a demigod. He makes this even harder on himself by swearing on the River Styx not to use his archery or musical talents until he's back to full god capacity, which Will and Kayla immediately tell him off for.
    • Calypso is revealed to have lost her immortality and magic as well, after leaving Ogygia, the difference between her and Apollo being that she chose that fate.
  • The Bus Came Back: Many characters who are mostly glanced over in The Heroes of Olympus series return with major roles here.
    • Sally Jackson only has a small role in The Hidden Oracle, but it's still a major upgrade from the previous series, where she never appeared.
    • Lityerses, a Monster of the Week from The Lost Hero, comes back in The Dark Prophecy and undergoes a Heel–Face Turn. The Stinger of the book features Grover, who serves as one of the main characters of The Burning Maze.
    • Similar to Lityerses, Medea is another of the arc villains who comes back, appearing in The Burning Maze. Unlike him, she remains a villain.
  • Call-Back: Several.
    • Austin promises that anyone who gives Apollo a hard time will be cursed to only speak in rhyming couplets, just like the Ares cabin was in The Last Olympian.
    • Nero is revealed to be The Man Behind the Man for previous villains Luke Castellan and Octavian.
    • Percy laments Meg being influenced by Nero by comparing her to Luke Castellan and Ethan Nakamura, demigods who sided with the Titans in the original Percy Jackson series, as well as Nico.
    • When Calypso says they had trouble in Albania, Nico tells her not mention Albania, referencing a Noodle Incident from The Blood of Olympus.
    • There were a couple throwaway jokes about a very lost pizza delivery guy showing up at Camp Half-Blood in the first series. In this series, Apollo says he was the one who ordered that pizza.
    • Percy mentions that Annabeth is away in Boston for family reasons.
    • In The Son of Neptune, a demoralized Percy makes a mental comment about that the message on a T-shirt Iris gave him should say "Hug the Commode". At one point in time, after a particularly emotional flashback, Apollo actually ends up sobbing while embracing a toilet.
    • After they come back from milking the cows in the Waystation, Josephine says that they seem to like Leo, to which he replies, "All da cows love Leo!". This references a time he changed the billboards in Times Square to read "All da ladies love Leo" in The Heroes of Olympus. Also, in the same scene, Apollo has to be reassured that the red cows in question are only being used for milk. If he found out about about what Geryon had been doing in The Battle of the Labyrinth, he'd be pretty upset.
    • Thalia recalls how the Hunters of Artemis lost a lot of lives during the war with the Giants, and Apollo remembers when Artemis learned of this.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Trophonius does this towards Apollo, claiming that the hardships he faced in life were because he was Apollo's son, and yet Apollo failed to aid him when he needed it most.
  • Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore:
    • Camp Half-Blood has always been this. However it's the first time it's shown that the Camp Borders are not infallible and can be broken through with enough force.
    • Camp Jupiter too suffers this in The Tyrant's Tomb. Though it had been attacked by Gaia's army before, the invaders did not attack all the way to New Rome, as what is happening here.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Justified. Apollo has connected the dots on numerous occasions, but because he's stuck as a human, he no longer has access to his divine knowledge and mentions that his mind appears to be muddling at the worst possible occasions.
  • Cassandra Truth: Very ironically given his relationship to the Trope Namer, Apollo actually does have a clue as to what is going on, but Chiron rather patronizingly ignores him. Most evident in Apollo warning him about how inadvisable a three-legged Death Course race through the Labyrinth is given all the disappearances. Even though Malcolm, son of Athena, also makes the same observation, Chiron insists on proceeding and then suffers great guilt when Kayla and Austin go missing.
  • Changing of the Guard: Subverted. While most of the earlier characters are absent in the first book, the new ones are minor roles, and the old heroes take their turns in the adventuring party as the series continues.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Python is offhandedly mentioned in The Blood of Olympus as preventing the gods from accessing the prophecies, but otherwise not important to the plot as the main characters are still facing an universe-shattering threat. As expected, he plays a very large role in this series, considering all the focus on lost prophecies.
    • Rhea, who has been mentioned since as far back as The Lightning Thief, finally shows up in The Hidden Oracle.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Rachel acts like this towards Apollo upon discovering there are four other oracles aside from her.
  • Company Cross References: When Apollo recites the chant for a ritual to summon Diana, he has to restart after saying 'insert name here' instead of Diana. He got off better than Sadie Kane, who almost made that mistake with a spell that could have killed her.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: The Triumvirate have spent the past two thousand years amassing wealth, and they are not shy about showing it off. Caligula, in particular, travels around in a fleet of fifty enormous yachts, each dedicated to one particular purpose (e.g. a throne room yacht, a dining yacht, a shoe yacht...).
  • Continuity Nod: Apollo apparently avoids talking weapons, citing one time in a tavern when he met "this god who was smoking hot, except his talking sword just would not shut up."
  • Crossover: Aside from the obvious ones, Apollo at one point mentions meeting "a hot god and his talking sword."
  • Cue the Rain: When Apollo and Meg go into the forest to look for the missing campers. Apollo comments that it is "just on the edge of sleet."
  • Darker and Edgier: The whole series is already contending with Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard as the darkest Riordan series.
    • Right off the bat, you have the main character, who while not particularly bad in action wallows in (albeit G-rated) arrogance, narcissism, and self-pity literally every sentence, rivaling basically everyone, villains included, in the series. He is definitely not your standard children's hero.
    • The history of the Roman Empire forms the backgrounds of the main villains. Needless, to say, numerous...unsavory things are to be found there.
    • The Hidden Oracle reads a lot like a psychological horror fiction at times. People are disappearing without a trace, no help is coming because communication is cut off, and the camp is growing more desolate each day as the survivors start to fear what's coming for them.
    • The Burning Maze. Massively. There is considerably more mention of blood and violence and a Heroic Suicide is portrayed explicitly. Oh, and JASON DIES without so much as a tender goodbye.
    • The Tyrant's Tomb is downright depressing at times. Mainly because it takes place at the lowest point in Apollo's life, where he's inches away from a depression.
  • Darkest Hour: The Tyrant's Tomb is this. First Jason Grace is dead, the Triumvate's first attack has decimated the legion, and they are coming for another one, this time with Greek Fire catapults, the Undead Roman king Tarquin is gathering his army of the undead at the same time, oh and Apollo has been infected with the zombie scratch, and has days before becoming one of the undead and communications are still down so they cannot call for help. As a result, it is one of the most depressing book in the series, with many of the characters feeling hopeless at times.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Aphrodite, Piper's mother, is not only a Shipper on Deck, but also a Love Goddess. As a result of this and Hera's memory spell, Piper realized her relationship with Jason wasn't real at all and she breaks it up much to his confusion.
  • Discontinuity Nod: Leo makes a comment about the battle with Gaea taking "forty seconds," a reference to the fact that some dissatisfied fans felt the final battle of The Heroes of Olympus was anticlimactic.
  • Disney Death:
    • Subverted with Jason in The Burning Maze. It looks like he merely gets incapacitated and Piper can somehow charmspeak him from Death's Door again. Piper's unwavering optimism makes it likelier to happen. But that's not the case. Jason has died for real.
    • Played straight with Frank in The Tyrant's Tomb. He offers Famous Last Words and sets Caligula on fire with his firewood. However, Arion brings him back, wounded but alive. Turns out he has defied fate and is no longer bound by the firewood.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Employed extensively to explain why Apollo has to step up as a protagonist rather than simply unloading his problems onto the demigods of Camp Half-Blood the way he inwardly admits he would normally do.
    • Prophecy is currently offline, meaning that Rachel and others cannot offer supernatural insights or, more importantly, assign quests.
    • The demigod disappearances have Chiron sufficiently worried that he is unwilling to allow the campers to just go charging off into the woods.
    • Nico, the most powerful demigod in the camp, is still recovering from over-exerting his powers in the last series. This prevents him from doing some of his more impressive feats on Apollo's behalf.
    • Communications, including Iris messages, have become unreliable, which accounts for why they cannot just call in other prominent demigods or request backup from Camp Jupiter. The Tyrant's Tomb reveals that this is because the Triumvirate bound Harpocrates, the Greco-Egyptian god of silence, and forced him to become a network blocker from San Francisco's Sutro Tower. Even after he lays to rest, Apollo notes it takes time before everything can return to normal.
    • Leo is required to help bolster the Waystation's defenses while Apollo and Calypso pull a raid on a zoo.
  • The Dreaded: Caligula. Nero considers Commodus as weak, so why does he keep him around? So he's between Nero and this guy. Nero, AKA The Beast, is scared of this guy and wants as much space between the two of them as possible. He’s the Neos Helios - The New Sun.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Several for the Rick Riordan Presents line of books, possibly unintentionally.
    • An odd one at that, but in the second book Apollo mentions Indra, the Vedic Hindu equivalent of Zeus. Indra would be a major figure in the Rick Riordan Presents imprint's first book, Aru Shah and the End of Time, as the spiritual father of the titular Aru Shah.
    • The Yoruba demigod Olujime appeared in the same book, nearly a year before an African Mythology focused Rick Riordan Presents title, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, was announced.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Apollo waxes poetic whenever talking about his former (usually male) lovers, but a significant mention goes to Jamie, a.k.a. Olujime, whom Apollo takes an immediate interest in when he is introduced. Wearing nothing but a loincloth, no less.
  • Epic Hail: One of the main points of The Tyrant's Tomb is Apollo and the Romans working to summon a god to help them defeat Caligula's and Commodus' army. The ritual seemingly fails and the Romans make their last stand, but Diana manages to arrive before Apollo completely turns into one of Tarquin's zombies.
  • Evil, Inc.: Triumvirate Holdings, the corporate manifestation of the Roman emperors' worldly wealth and influence.
  • Exact Words: Averted hard with a certain oath. While the Hunters of Artemis swear off the company of men forever, Artemis regards this as a vow of celibacy from all forms of sexual contact, meaning she doesn't permit her Hunters to form lesbian relationships either, despite the oath only specifying men.
  • Famous Last Words: "GO! Remember!" - Jason Grace.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Reading all the talk about break-up, ending, the prophecy Herophile says, and particularly, the If I Do Not Return speech in The Burning Maze, you know that something bad is going to happen to Jason, but you can't be sure, since the character has already been Back from the Dead before. Come Chapter 33, and Jason is killed permanently.
  • Faux Horrific:
    • Apollo and Rachel are horrified when the prophecy is finally given... in a limerick! Apparently, only the worst prophecies are in the form of limericks. Which leaves something to be said when the next prophecy comes in the form of a…Shakespearean sonnet in iambic pentameter! Which is way worse!
    • Apollo has this general reaction to his now-mortal body. No longer is he an athletic, well-toned Hot God with glorious sunlight pouring off of his very body; now, he's a pimply, slightly flabby teenage boy named Lester Papadopoulos.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences:
    • Apollo is dismayed that Meg is finishing his sentences.
    • Josie and Emmie to each other, in a romantic variant.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Piper goes through all five stages, albeit not in order, after Jason is killed. She first denies that it happens ("He's not dead. He's gone through too much to die now"), then tries to think anything that could bring him back ("There's always a way. The Physician's Cure! Leo took it!"), lashes out at someone ("And, Apollo? Don't come back. You hear me? Just-just go. GO!"), becomes depressed (she doesn't talk with Apollo throughout the next day), before she finally accepts it ("It's fine. Just get to Camp Jupiter safely. Let them give Jason the Roman burial he deserves").
  • Foreshadowing: This exchange in the ''Dark Prophecy:
    Lityeses: My friends call me Lit, but my enemies call me Death!
    Apollo: I'll call you Lit.
    • In Tomb of the Tyrant when discussing the "soundless god" mentioned in the prophecy, Frank asks if Apollo could know him. Apollo replies that as a god of music, he and the "soundless god" would not have gotten along. The soundless god is Harpocrates, who holds a grudge against Apollo for bullying him during their time on Olympus
  • Forbidden Fruit: It is revealed in the fourth book that Apollo was barred by Venus from pursuing a relationship with Reyna sometime ago. Naturally, he began to lust after her, who up to that point was under his radar. Turns out Venus did it for Reyna's well-being; with Apollo, a god, wooing her, Reyna realizes that she has been measuring her worth through other people and decides to live a life free of romantic love, joining the Hunters of Artemis.
  • Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow: Apollo still plays his ukulele despite making an oath on the river Styx that he wouldn't until he became a god again.
  • Gas Leak Cover Up: Used literally by Commodus to cover up his attack on the Waystation. Leo even lampshades it the night before.
  • Genius Loci: The Waystation is a rare benevolent example.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: A variant, Apollo explicitly mentions in his narration that this is more or less how the universe runs (and why he can be AWOL from his duties as sun god - other mythologies can pick up the slack, on top of the scientific reasoning), the deities of this verse will fade away if no one remember them or the culture of which they are tied to is gone. Also exploited by the Triumvirate, a trio of Roman emperors who made such a historical impact that they can remain in the world despite that they should have died thousands of years ago. Nero mentions that he almost faded completely during the Dark Ages, before making a comeback thanks to the Renaissance.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Python. He is the one who blocks Delphi and by extension the communication between the Olympians, the demigods, Delphi, and the Greek mythological beings (except those allied with the villains, since they have the other Oracles). However, he is not directly responsible for the series' plot. As of the latest book, he only shows up in dreams and the like, never in person.
  • Happily Adopted: Georgina loves her moms, Emmie and Josie.
  • Happy Ending Override: The Burning Maze completely overrode Piper and Jason's happy ending. Piper realized her affection for Jason was just a case Loving a Shadow brought about by Hera's spell and Aphrodite's influence so she broke up with him, leaving him confused. Later, the Triummvirate seriously messes with her father's finance leaving him a wreck of a man. The absolute last straw is Jason's death at the hand of Caligula.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power:
    • Meg is pretty badass for the daughter of a agriculture goddess.
    • Britomartis is the goddess of hunting and fishing nets. She extends this into any man-made contraptions built for these purposes (such as bear traps and elaborate booby traps), as well as safety nets both literal and metaphorical.'
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Meg, due to her conflicting loyalties to Apollo and Nero. By The Dark Prophecy, however, she has settled on siding with Apollo for good.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Lityerses in The Dark Prophecy.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A major theme in The Burning Maze, with the idea that sacrifices do not have to be the end of a character arc to be performed or meaningful. Jason Grace dies in this way, holding off Caligula, but the action is not particularly meaningful to his character despite it buying his friends valuable time. Before that, Apollo intentionally delivers a mortal wound to himself as part of a plan to distract the villains, but he regrets knowing that he did it only because he knew he would be saved.
  • Historical In-Joke: Louis XIV's birth after twenty-three years of childless marriage between his parents was widely seen at the time as divine intervention, but Anne of Austria having an affair has long been a popular theory. Apollo being the father makes both theories correct. On top of it Louis XIV's epithet was the "Sun King" and lots of art associated with him was linked to him as Apollo, such as playing him in ballet hence the epithet.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: Apollo reveals gods are of course capable of this and it is how his daughter Kayla came about.
  • Humans Are Special: The gods are amazed by the ability of mortals to not be constantly freaking out over their mortality, when they're a strong case of Immortals Fear Death.
  • Immortals Fear Death: Apollo reveals that the gods are terrified of fading, and they are amazed by the fact that humans can be aware of their own mortality and not be constantly freaking out over their impending (especially from a godly perspective) deaths.
  • Initiation Ceremony: Apollo escapes it. Meg does not. And considering who's going to be administering the ceremony...
  • It's All About Me:
    • Apollo. Two of his children's immediate reactions to seeing him mortal is to wonder if this is going to affect their existence and/or supernatural talents, as well. Apollo lauds them for keeping their priorities straight. His being mortal is pretty clearly meant to break him from that and he gets a little better as he goes along.
    • The Triummvirate, all of them, but special mention goes to Caligula.
  • Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot: The overarching plot of the series centers around Apollo growing out of his self-centeredness and maturing.
  • Killed Off for Real: Jason Grace in The Burning Maze.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Apollo and Meg become this eventually, with Apollo viewing Meg as something of a replacement for Artemis in his human form. Cemented as of The Tyrant's Tomb, when Apollo states this outright.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Trophonius (known child) has it out for Apollo (parent) and only claimed Georgina (unknown child) as "my sister," so it's unclear what exactly is going on.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: A variant closer to "Father, You Are Luke's Father." A child informs their parent that they (the child) has a sibling the parent didn't know existed.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Triumvirate are revealed to be the ones who backed Luke and Octavian.
  • Master Swordsman: As it turns out, this is a common trait for children of Demeter, which explains Meg's immense skill with her weapons. It's reasoned that they have an exceptional understanding of the need to "reap" (as in reaping what you sow), meaning cutting down their opponents.
  • Mind Rape: Done to Meg. Also to Apollo, but it leaves him as a super forgetful Unreliable Narrator. Thankfully, both of them eventually recover from it.
  • Minimalism:
    • The Hidden Oracle compared to pretty much every book in the whole Riordan universe. The events are mostly confined in a single location (Camp Half-Blood) with little adventures and more interaction between established characters, fewer mythological beings/monsters present, and the theme is more grounded and humanistic compared to the Cosmic Deadline-prone fantasy of previous books. It even features a human being, albeit now a de facto minor god, as the main villain.
    • The Dark Prophecy follows suit, restricting the events to Indianapolis, with the Waystation acting as the main hub.
    • The Burning Maze averts this. The events are still restricted to a specific area (Southern California, to be precise), but it features way more of the mythology, has three large-scale battles, and in general being evocative to the adventurous feel of the first and second series.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The Myrmeke queen, who is the leader and mother of a whole colony of myrmeke ants.
  • Mordor: Southern California is slowly turning into this in The Burning Maze, due to the presence of Helios in the Labyrinth beneath the area. Apollo even namedrops the trope namer while describing the Cistern. When Helios is put to rest, the environment immediately returns to its normal state.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter:
    • There are a few places in the books where someone says something inappropriate in another language and Apollo describes to not directly translate it.
    • From The Burning Maze, where it is clearly meant to be "son of a ***"
    She cursed in ancient Colchian, calling into question my mother's past romantic relationships.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Nero ensures Meg's loyalty by claiming that "The Beast" is his Superpowered Evil Side that can be enraged, and he's valiantly struggling to hold it back. He's lying through his teeth, of course, but it works. Apollo is reminded of how Zeus acted with him when he sees it, including when Zeus blamed his bolt when he was the one who used it.
    • Apollo's son Trophonius comes off as this when confronted in his Oracle. Trophonius blames Apollo for not saving Agamethus from Hyrieus's trap...even though Apollo points out that Trophonius should have prayed to Apollo for guidance before committing a crime, rather than praying to be bailed out when it went south.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Rhea in the US has become this.
  • Not Me This Time: Apollo twice insists that he did not, in fact, flay Marsyas alive for claiming to be a better musician than him, but allowed the story to circulate because he enjoyed the notoriety at the time. His credibility is questionable, but considering that he cops to other acts of divine douchebaggery, he might be telling the truth.
  • Not So Different:
    • Apollo is forced to admit (though not aloud) that he and the other Olympians are not as different from Nero as he'd like to say they are. They share oversized egos and Apollo compares his alternate persona as to how Zeus has threatened Apollo in the past.
    • In The Burning Maze, Apollo recalls meeting Caligula dressed as Apollo at one of his parties back when he was first alive...and being horrified by the realization that Caligula is almost a better Apollo than Apollo himself.
  • The Oath-Breaker: Apollo absentmindedly vows on the River Styx that he will no longer play music until he becomes a god. So he promptly breaks it. It is initially played for laughs. But as the later books reveal, it has far-reaching consequences as tragedies start to befall on him. In the third book, Styx appears personally to reveal that Jason and Crest's deaths are part of his punishment.
  • Offscreen Breakup: Jason and Piper are no longer an item in The Burning Maze. While Apollo suspects that this was Jason's way to save Piper by encouraging her to move to Oklahoma with few regrets, he shoots this down and says that they broke up simply because of irreconcilable differences.
  • The One Guy: Trophonius is the lone male of the Oracles.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Python remains at the original Delphi meaning that the Triumvirate are going to be the driving villains of the series.
  • Pokémon Speak: Peaches the karpos is fond of this.
  • Potty Failure: Since becoming mortal, Apollo has lost his godly ability to hold his bladder. He wets himself out of fear more often than he would be willing to admit.
  • The Prophecy:
    • It's the lack of these being issued that's a major concern this time around. The Python that Apollo slew millennia ago was resurrected during the second Gigantomachy, and subsequently took control of the Oracle of Delphi while the Olympians were embroiled in their Greek/Roman schism. Prophecies are a driving force in Greek mythology, and by extension the Percy Jackson world, and no quest can be issued without one. Without any form of guidance from the prophecies, the Olympians and their allies are essentially left stumbling in the dark without any idea of what to do or what enemies they may face.
    • After saving the Grove of Dodona and stabilizing it they finally get a prophecy in the form of a limerick which terrifies Apollo and Rachel because only the most dangerous prophecies are limericks.
    • The Dark Prophecy takes this up a notch, as apparently a prophecy in iambic pentameter is way worse than a limerick. Combined with the Shakespearean sonnet, and we get one big massive Oh, Crap! from the god of prophecy himself. These are also given rarely, as every character who has heard a prophecy at least once in their life time—including former Titaness Calypso (who is older than Apollo)—react in surprise at the sheer length of it.
    • Ella and Tyson manage to deduce parts of the final prophecy in The Tyrant's Tomb. It's written in terza rima, the one used by Dante for The Divine Comedy.
  • Put on a Bus: Out of the main characters of the previous series, only Percy, Leo, and Nico appear in The Hidden Oracle. Annabeth is visiting Magnus at Boston, Jason and Piper are attending school in Los Angeles, while Hazel, Frank, and Reyna, while not mentioned, presumably still have other business to do in Camp Jupiter. More and more have slowly turn up, however; as of The Tyrant's Tomb, only Annabeth has yet to appear.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Calypso has been stuck on Ogygia for a long time - 3,600-ish years note , as she herself mentions - mainly weaving, gardening, and other tasks besides the occasional demigod-hero heartbreak business. So while she'd jump at the chance to leave, explore the world, and experience normal things... it takes some getting used to, particularly since she's no longer immortal or has access to her former powers (initially for the latter), and a normal demigod life typically involves constant danger. The sudden absence of the former, plus having to adapt to the latter, has caused friction between her and Leo in numerous ways, though they still care about each other and are working through it.
    • Zig-zagged when Calypso punches a blemmyae in the face and cradles her hand-at first, the reader thinks this happened because, well, punching people in the face hurts a lot more than the movies usually show, and this is what will actually happen if someone punches another person in the face, especially if they're untrained. Then it turns out that the actual reason she's cradling her hand is because the blemmyae are (literally) Made of Iron.
    • As The Burning Maze shows you, relationship that is essentially rooted in a lie does not have much chance of surviving in the long run. No matter how fairytale-ish it sounds like, it soon became clear to Piper that dating Jason was off to a rocky start, as, unlike Percy and Annabeth, they were attracted first and the foremost because of a (literally) divine matchmaker, with no individual feelings involved. Within a few months after the end of the Gigantomachy, once the euphoria had faded, it became too much to bear and she decided to break up with him.
  • Relationship Upgrade: In between this series and the last, Nico and Will became a couple.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Apollo's ancient enemy, Python, has taken hold of the Oracle of Delphi, preventing the gods and demigods from accessing prophecies.
  • Riches to Rags:
    • In The Burning Maze, Meg is revealed to be the daughter of a botanist, born to an ancient lineage of servants of Demeter, who owned a gigantic mansion on a hill just outside Palm Springs. Then Caligula noticed what he had been researching and utterly destroyed his company, forcing the father and daughter to move to an apartment in New York.
    • From the same book, Caligula does the same thing to the McLeans, destroying Tristan's reputation and confiscating their home. He and Piper are forced to move to their ancestral home in Oklahoma.
  • Rotating Protagonist: Played With. Apollo and Meg are central protagonists. However, the supporting protagonists change in each book.
  • Screw Destiny: Frank chooses to set his firewood alight by himself. Unlike the mythical Meleager, who wasn't informed of the curse and died a jerk, Frank was told of his destiny a long time ago and remains humble, so his death is written off by the Fates.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Percy tries to leave the action, and succeeds for the majority of the story. He comes back for a Big Damn Heroes moment, though.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • The Dark Prophecy utterly destroys any ships within the Hunters of Artemis. Turns out all the Les Yay is accidental courtesy of being a female only group and all members are required to be celibate and remain romantically unencumbered. And any LGBP interpretations of Artemis are completely torpedoed, it is made clear she is asexual and aromantic.
    • The Burning Maze kills off Jason and Piper's relationship by having them broke up and further buries it as they are revealed to have done so amicably (albeit with Jason not knowing the reason why). Jason's death three-quarters of the way through the book only serves as the final nail to the coffin.
    • The Tyrant's Tomb puts a halt to any romantic pairing for Reyna when she becomes a Hunter of Artemis. She does say she might consider loving someone again, but it probably takes her centuries.
  • Shoot the Dog: Back during Roman times, Apollo murdered his former lover, the emperor Commodus, to prevent the latter from doing even more damage before his own people inevitably did him in anyway. Notably, it's his one kill that he considers murder rather than any kind of divine retribution.
  • Shout-Out: A couple of cases.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Apollo challenges Zeus to punish him after he breaks his Styx oath for a second time. This is mostly done in an effort to direct his ire away from Meg.
  • Sole Survivor: By the end of The Tyrant's Tomb, Nero is both the last of the Triumvirate and the last historic Roman ruler remaining.
  • Stop Copying Me: In Camp Half-Blood Confidential, the chapter "Training Grounds" consists entirely of Apollo leading campers in a military cadence. Partway through, he's accidentally fallen down and hurt himself (and still singing about it), and the campers keep repeating his words until he threatens them all with death.
  • The Talk: Percy averts it, but Apollo begins giving one to Meg when she asks if she can have baby cows.
    Apollo: Well, Meg, first you would have to have some mommy cows. You see-
  • Talking Animal: While the previous series have seen specific humans who could understand Animal Talk (e.g. Percy speaking horse, Grover speaking all), The Burning Maze introduces Incitatus, a horse who can talk honest-to-gods English. As in, any human could understand him.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Apollo uses this verbatim when he meets Jamie for the first time, and doesn't stop even after learning the latter's name, usually with some variation like "Tall, Dark & Jamie" (punctuation included).
    Apollo: (I know that's a cliche, but he really was all three).
  • There Is Another: A big part of the series is the revelation that the Oracle at Delphi, which has thus far been portrayed as the all-giving, all-knowing prophetess, is in fact not the only Greco-Roman oracle to exist, just the most famous one. Since Python has sealed Delphi, the heroes have to resort to finding the other lost oracles to prevent the villains from misusing fate.
  • Token Minority: Averted with the titular character, who, despite being a white male, is openly bisexual and has relationship with both men and women.
  • Trash Landing:
    • When Apollo is cast down to earth he lands in a dumpster.
    • During the three-legged death race through the Labyrinth, Apollo and Meg land in a garbage pile.
    • Apollo vetoes the suggestion to do this when he, Leo and Calypso are being chased.
    • Apollo, Grover, and Hedge land in a dumpster after blowing up Macro's store, although this ends up saving their lives when it conceals them from Incitatus.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The entire series is basically this for Apollo. To be specific, just in The Hidden Oracle alone, he is physically hurled out of Olympus, thrown into a dumpster, breaking his ribs, with only a vague idea of what he did wrong and even less idea of how to fix it. Two mortal thugs stomp on his face, kick him repeatedly to the POINT THAT HE BLACKS OUT. SEVERAL TIMES. Is nearly killed by plague spirits on the way to camp. Nearly dies soon after that in the woods, having a high fever, possibly hypothermia, and being delirious. He's nearly caught by his worst enemy, Python, and then immediately afterwards finds out that his children have been taken in order to lay a trap for him. Oh, and then while trying to help Apollo find his kids, Meg's taken, Apollo's injured some more, and needs to charge BACK into the woods to rescue her, saving her by confiding all of his worst feelings about himself, all of his pain and suffering.
  • The Unpronounceable: Alexasiriastrophona, the Olympian virtual assistant. And she insists that her name be pronounced correctly if anybody wants to use her service.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Apollo. Where to begin?
    • In particular, his defeat of Python was not as easy as he made it sound, and he and Daphne genuinely loved each other before she was cursed into despising him. In-series, Apollo also makes some statements that are obviously untrue to the reader. For example, he declares that Percy Jackson adores him while the demigod is holding back the urge to punch him in the face, and his archery skills, which are portrayed as well above average for a mortal, he declares to be humiliatingly bad. To be fair, "for a mortal" is an important distinction.
    • He is also one due to the Mind Rape in The Dark Prophecy. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • This also crops up occasionally thanks to his ego. For example, he tells the reader that he most certainly did not cry at all when reunited with Meg.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Meg and Apollo. They constantly snipe at each other, mock each other, and find the other incredibly annoying. But they're also willing to die for each other and tend to gravitate toward each other in social groups.
  • Wham Episode: The Burning Maze. Jason Grace is killed at the hands of Caligula.
  • Where It All Began: At the end of The Tyrant's Tomb, Ella states that with the deaths of Commodus and Caligula, all that's left of the Triumvirate is Nero, the first of the bunch to be introduced. This means Apollo and Meg will have to return to New York.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: A flashback in The Dark Prophecy reveals that Nero did this with Meg.... implying that The Beast came out and killed her dad. Since we know that the Beast and Nero are really the same person…
  • World of Snark: Just like Riordan's other verses, it's rare for more than a page or two to pass without someone snarking.
  • Yaoi Guys: A mild case with Nico and Will. Even Apollo thinks they're cute together despite Nico being a "dark foreboding type" and they do indeed go to great lengths to stay close to one another. Playing with the trope, Will is the more outgoing of the couple, although Nico is a lot more powerful and formidable in combat.

The fall of the sun, the final verse...


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