A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Dark Prophecy is the second book in a series that's a spin-off of a Percy Jackson spin-off series. Did you follow that? The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series came first, then the Heroes of Olympus. It helps to read them both before digging into the Trials of Apollo series. The storyline picks up after the war at the end of the Heroes of Olympus, and many old favorite characters make cameos or are mentioned (yay, Leo!). And, for extra credit, reading the Apollo chapter in Percy Jackson's Greek Gods helps when our "suddenly mortal and very unhappy about it" narrator Apollo recounts key moments of his godly life. Like in the first book, there's a lot to learn about mythology and history, especially about the Roman Emperor Commodus' reign. The violence ratchets up a little from the last book thanks to arena fighting (with tortured animals -- blame Commodus), some beheadings (three simply because Commodus was bored), and lots of skirmishes with mythological creatures who cause injuries to mortals. For kids who dislike snakes, watch out for the giant serpent and the pit of poisonous vipers. For animal-loving kids, expect one sad animal death and a commitment by characters to take care of the mistreated animals.
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What's the story?
In THE DARK PROPHECY, when Apollo, Leo, and Calypso land in Indianapolis atop their metal dragon Festus, they're greeted with an ambush. The streets are teaming with the minions of Emperor Commodus -- very strong creatures called blemmyae with faces in their chests. With the help of former Artemis hunters, they escape to the Waystation, a sentient building that houses an assortment of demigods, griffins, and the formerly immortal. Well, usually. When Apollo and friends enter, the many rooms are empty except for the ex-hunters Emmie and Jo. They explain that slowly Commodus had kidnapped everyone, including the griffins and Emmie and Jo's 7-year-old adopted daughter. They must be saved, and soon, and the throne of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, must be recovered or their friends will be forced to fight in the arena and their daughter will go mad. The multistep quest sounds hard enough, but to make matters worse, both the bloodthirsty megalomaniac Commodus and the oracle Trophonius have very old scores to settle with Apollo.
Is it any good?
If you like fighting mythological creatures and impossible quests that lead to more impossible quests and more fighting mythological creatures, you will thoroughly dig this sequel. By the end of the book you'll need the help of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, just to recall when Apollo and friends fought the giant serpent, when they were set upon by pits of smaller venomous snakes or weird creatures with faces below their armpits, or by Germani soldiers, or by helmeted fighting ostriches. It's all big fun, but it does blur together after a while.
There's less focus on character development here than in the first book, The Hidden Oracle, mostly because Apollo has already accepted his fate as a tortured mortal. His endearing relationship with Meg, his polar opposite, continues to develop on the sidelines of all the action. And the dedication of the ex-hunter couple Emmie and Jo to their mortal life as parents in the Waystation adds nice depth to the story. Blink, and you'll miss it, though. The Dark Prophecy is back to the action quicker than one of Artemis' Hunters can draw her bow.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what they learned from The Dark Prophecy. Who was Emperor Commodus? Who was the goddess Mnemosyne? What is a "yale"?
Apollo and Meg couldn't be more different. Do they make a good team? Why, or why not? Why do you think Apollo has come around to actually caring about Meg?
Will you read the next Trials of Apollo? What trials do you think come next? Who will be the next demigod you know from other Percy Jackson books to join Apollo on his quests?
- Author: Rick Riordan
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Wild animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: May 2, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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