The Tyrant's Tomb: The Trials of Apollo, Book 4

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
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Apollo atones as the exciting mythological mayhem continues.

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age 10+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Having the Greek and Roman god of music, poetry, healing arts, prophecy, and plague as narrator takes the reader in a number of fascinating directions. Apollo complains that his mortal form makes him forget a lot, but we're still treated to tidbits on periods in history he's experienced (especially about the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus and where the term "fascism" came from), and mythology he remembers, including how he created ravens and cursed a Sybil. Each chapter begins with a haiku (teaching about a form of poetry) and Dante's preferred meter, terza rima, is explained. Roman funeral traditions are also explained. The glossary entitled "Guide to Apollo-Speak" is 16 pages long now, up from 12 in Book 3. Added are more Roman terms and San Francisco Bay Area places since most of the story takes place in New Rome somewhere beyond the Caldecott Tunnel.

Positive Messages

Strong messages on creating your own destiny, making up for past mistakes, and relying on friends in times of need. Bravery, teamwork, and a sense of duty are essential in battle.

Positive Role Models

Apollo endures humiliations and experiences a lot of shame over his behaviors in god form, which included bullying and killing. He's spurred to action to make amends and is willing to sacrifice himself for his friends. Other characters are of many races, straight, and LGBTQ.


A big battle with many casualties and injuries, with some gore described (a stabbing in the eye, a horrible burn wound that eventually kills). A funeral of a major character in the series. Two car crashes off of cliffs resulting in one broken leg. Many scary creatures attack including things that look like zombies, vultures, giant ravens, and giant ants that shoot acid. Roman soldiers are forced to fight old comrades who turned into zombies when killed. Mention of deaths in previous battle, including children. Story of Apollo, as a god, having his girlfriend killed when she cheats on him. Another of him bullying and humiliating a minor god for kicks. Story of a king run over by a chariot by his daughter-in-law and another king drowning people as torture. Mythical animals show signs of torture and mistreatment.


Apollo mentions a time when he wanted to "get with someone." Another character sneaks away from New Rome to meet her girlfriend.


Mentions of many brands, these more prominently: Kool-Aid, Target, Jarritos soda, Wakanda, Smucker's.  Dean Martin's version of "Volare" figures into the story, with many more artists throughout history mentioned because Apollo knew them all.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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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Teen, 13 years old Written byDaydreamer12 October 21, 2019

Uncle Rick works his magic again!

Rick Riordan is an amazing author no doubt about that. His books are very educational and readers learn about Greek mythology without even realizing the facts s... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by-Kindle- October 18, 2021

Trials of Apollo

This series is awesome! Rick Riordan is one of my favorite authors.

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? 

Book details

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