This series by mega-author Rick Riordan continues with book three. The appeal of the story goes way beyond middle grade as young and old adults will find something to like. It might be the mythology filled with godly powers, a fast talking main character quick with the wisecracks, or the story telling that is always surprising.

If you are new to Apollo and the predicament he finds himself in, the excellent blurb from the publisher gets you caught up…

The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.

With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor—and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles—somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon…

Each of the 47 chapters begins with a haiku—three lines of what you might find in the upcoming pages. It’s a perfect way to keep the pages turning. Young Lester (formerly Apollo) is never in control, but will try anything to regain his former status. He’s more likeable here and always has a laugh out loud reference to the past—most of which will go over the head of anyone under thirteen.

The length is expected for a book of this magnitude, but it won’t scare away many readers who will anxiously await the fourth installment in the Fall of 2019: THE TYRANT’S TOMB.




  1. Although Apollo has been given the body of a sixteen year old with a little extra weight around the middle, he acts more like his 12 year old companion, Meg. They make a great duo who often don’t see things the same way.
  2. Apollo changes courtesy of his time on Earth. He begins to become more human and with that comes more emotion. Being a mortal is hard work and sometimes a song is needed to change your mood or circumstances.
  3. A handy glossary of Apollo Speak follows the story. Never heard of what he’s talking about?—just flip to the back for a quick explanation.
  4. At times funny, other times sad (there’s even a surprising death). You get yourself wrapped up into these fantasy characters and they seem so real. The mark of an expert writer.
  5. The puzzle they must solve was a fun sidelight. You see the clues but can’t see the answer…then you do.

FAVORITE LINES (Thanks to Lester, there were many scenes to choose from):

“Wait.” Meg tossed aside the packet. She placed her hands over the seeds like she was about to play the keyboard (which, by the way, she can’t do well, despite my efforts to teach her).

“Okay,” she said. “Go.”

Grover raised his pipes and began a frantic version of “Strawberry Fields Forever” in triple time. I forgot about my bow and grabbed my ukulele, joining him in the song. I didn’t know if it would help, but if I was going to get ripped apart, at least I wanted to go out playing the Beatles.

From the mouth of Rick Riordan:

The time I spent waiting to get published was mercifully brief compared to some. I’ll be the first to admit I was lucky. However, the process I went through was the same as it is for many writers.

Once I had a completed manuscript, I queried agents. Many said no. One said yes. The only advantage I had at this stage was that a Bay Area creative writing teacher/author had done a line edit for me. She really helped me clean up the final draft, and then let me use her name in my query letter, “So-and-so, author of _____, suggested I contact you.” Any foot in the door is good. Even if the agent doesn’t know the author, she knows that someone in the business has endorsed your work. For this reason, I do think it can be helpful to pay someone for a line edit, if you have someone reputable in your area. A good place to look for freelance editors would be writing institutes at your local colleges.

Once I had an agent, she began shopping the manuscript around. Many publishers said no, all for different reasons. Some loved the story and disliked the characters. Some loved the characters and disliked the story. There didn’t seem to be any consensus. Finally, however, we got an offer from Bantam Doubleday Dell, and the series was published.

I finished the manuscript for Big Red Tequila just before my thirtieth birthday, June, 1994. It was published in June of 1997. So from first query letter to pub date took three years. About a year of that was after I’d signed the contract and Bantam was preparing the book for publication. (for more about Rick and his books visit his website)


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I’ve read and enjoyed some other books by Riordan, and this series sounds great as well! Thanks for the review!

  2. Sounds like another great read by Rick Riordan. And I really enjoyed his road to publication. Gives us all hope.

  3. This certainly is an exciting series for teens! It makes Greek mythology exciting, while teaching. I know I should read an earlier book.

  4. cleemckenzie says:

    I’ve always loved Riordan’s writing and his sense of humor.

  5. Another Rick Riordan book is always cause for celebration. I like the idea of the haiku for each chapter. Thanks for the post.

  6. Sue Kookyue says:

    I freaking love Trials of Apollo! I agree with everything you said about it. Lester acts seriously immature for his age (both human and godly) and the Haikus are always super fun to read. That’s a really interesting quote from Rick Riordan! I’ll have to keep it in mind. Thank you for your review!

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