A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Tyrant's Tomb is the fourth book in a series that's a spin-off of a Percy Jackson spin-off series. 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, like Frank, Hazel, and Reyna. 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. A lot is thrown at readers in the way of ancient history, Roman terms, and Greek and Roman characters, so thank goodness for the 16-page glossary at the end of the book. After the death of a beloved character at the end of Book 3, The Burning Maze, there's more bloodshed to come in The Tyrant's Tomb. Expect a huge climactic battle with all kinds of mythical creatures (including lots of undead warriors), more casualties and injuries, and a little bit of gore (a stabbing in the eye, a horrible burn wound that eventually kills). Plus, there's not one but two car crashes off cliffs, with one broken leg. We learn more about Apollo's bad behavior when he was a god, including having a girlfriend killed and bullying a minor god. Facing his past, he feels shame and regret (mortal emotions new to him), is nearly killed, and is willing to sacrifice everything for his friends.
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What's the story?
In THE TYRANT'S TOMB: THE TRIALS OF APOLLO, BOOK 4, Meg and Apollo have the sad and necessary task of taking Jason's body back to New Rome in the San Francisco Bay Area. The hearse almost makes it to the Caldecott Tunnel when it's attacked by eurynomoi, giant underworld vultures. Sentries from New Rome come running, but can't stop Apollo from getting scratched. A eurynomous scratch will turn its victim into a vrykolakas (zombie) in a matter of days -- which is about how much time Apollo, Meg, and all of New Rome have before Caligula and Commodus show up in the San Francisco Bay with their fleet of weaponized yachts. To save New Rome and his mortal form, Apollo will need both the Sybil prophesies that a harpy is frantically tattooing onto a cyclops (that's right) and some serious divine Roman intervention.
Is it any good?
This Apollo series stays exciting with loads of mythological mayhem, but also gets heavy with sad departures and some serious comeuppance for a now-mortal god growing a conscience. Luckily, nothing ever gets heavy for too long, not when the best weapons are sometimes horrid Dean Martin songs and the best way for a harpy to remember a prophesy is to tattoo it on her cyclops-boyfriend's body. There's a delight just in the sheer randomness of author Rick Riordan's imagination.
So many characters and mythological creatures and side quests swirl about in the story that sometimes it's hard for the reader to piece it all together. (Like why's the guy in the tomb in cahoots with the other emperors, and why on earth would you want to pay him a visit?) Plus we're back in Roman territory with Roman terms, rules, and characters. It takes some time to get all the wheels in motion because there are more wheels than The Tyrant's Tomb needs, but most everything rolls neatly to the end -- well, at least the end before the real ending in Book 5.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Apollo's past in The Tyrant's Tomb. How does he see himself after remembering what he's done? How does he try to atone for it?
What do both Frank and Reyna realize about their destinies? How does it help them? Do you think everyone has a destiny? What's yours?
Will you read the last book in this series? What do you think is next for Apollo and Meg? Will Apollo ever be a god again? Will he go back to the way he was before he was forced to be a mortal? What's fun about stories based on mythology?
- Author: Rick Riordan
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: September 24, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 448
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: October 21, 2020
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