Things I loved about The Dark Prophecy:
Once again, it starts with Apollo hating his humanity, something that I believe won’t change in some time, he was born a god, after all. Though I fervently believe that he is learning from his time as a mortal.
Through the whole book, we are able to read some of his most selfish comments, which is to be expected, since he had always been portrayed as a selfish, self-centered god. However, we’re able to see his selfless and kind side, too.
“…It went against the very nature of being Apollo. I should always be the most obvious, brilliant source of light in the world. If you had to search for me, something was wrong.”
And: “I tried to contain my bitterness. Soldiers and sailors were all very well, but if your city’s biggest monument is not Apollo, I’m sorry, you’re doing something wrong.”
“You rescued me.” Then I added two words that never came easily to a god: “Thank you.”
“When I was a god, I would’ve been delighted to leave the mortal heroes to fend for themselves. I would’ve made popcorn and watched the bloodbath from a distance on Mount Olympus, or simply caught the highlight reel later. But as Lester, I felt obligated to defend these people….I wanted to be here for them.”
“Their eyes were so full of concern- concern for me- that I had to swallow back a lump in my throat. Six weeks we had been traveling together. Most of that time, I had fervently wished I could be anywhere else, with anyone else. But with the exception of my sister, had I ever shared so many experiences with anyone? I realized, gods help me, that I was going to miss these two.”
These are some of the parts I loved the most about the book:
- The Waystation. It’s nice to know of more demigod safe-spaces, more so when they’re under the loving care of Emmie and Josephine:
“We’ve saved a lot of demigods and other outcasts- raised them at the Waystation, let them go to school and have a more or less normal childhood, then sent them out into the world as adults with the skills they needed to survive.”
It’s different from both Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter, where, no matter how much they protect you and care for you, it could never be as normal and comforting as being raised in a “normal” loving environment.
- The relationship between Apollo and Calypso: They hate each other, that much is perfectly clear…
“Lo!” I said. “I arrived at Camp Half-Blood as Lester Papadopoulos!”
“A pathetic mortal!” Calypso chorused. “Most worthless of teens!”
“-…her evil stepfather had poisoned her mind!”
“Poison!” Calypso cried. “Like the breath of Lester Papadopoulos, most worthless of teens!”
“Lo!” I shouted. “From the Oracle of Dodona we received a prophecy- a limerick most terrible!”
“Terrible!” Calypso chorused. “Like the skills of Lester, most worthless of teens!”
Though as the chapters progress, it appears that it’s more of a mutual disagreement than actual hatred. Apollo realizes how unfair their punishment on her was, and starts to feel like his own treatment towards her is unfair:
“Just yesterday, I had toyed with the idea of leaving Calypso behind to the blemmyae when she was wounded. I’d like to say that it wasn’t a serious thought, but it had been, however briefly. Now Calypso refused to leave Meg, whom she barely knew. It was almost enough to make me question whether I was a good person…”
And, in the end, they become friends. They still have much path to cover and much to discuss, but I believe they’re on good terms now.
- Calypso and Leo:
One of the many topics vastly discussed after Blood of Olympus was how short and forced their relationship seemed. However, in The Dark Prophecy, we caught a glimpse of the reality they’re living on:
They’re trying to discover who they are together, as a couple and as friends. We see their multiple fights and their disagreements, and I believe it’s a very good thing! They’re exploring the possibilities of their relationship!
We see Calypso missing her island, we see her missing her powers, but most than anything else, we can see that Calypso and Leo truly love one another, and that they’re trying. It feels real, their problems, which only makes it better. It was to be expected that they’d be fighting and having problems, since they hadn’t talked much back on her island before he was forced to leave. They’re testing the waters, as Calypso explained.
They’re trying to build a good future for each other, they’re even going to enter school together. I like how their relationship improved, I like that Rick portrayed and fixed the mess that was their relationship by the end of BoO.
I also loved that Leo keeps calling her mamacita, and that Leo’s full name is actually Leonidas.
- In general, everything about Emmie and Josephine was pure perfection.
They were hunters of Artemis, hunters who fell in love with one another and decided to choose each other over immortality. Their love was beautifully portrayed, and the fact that they adopted a daughter was even more precious for me and for everyone in the LGBT community.
I like that, on a similar topic, we had more explanation about the Hunters of Artemis and their rules:
“All romance is off-limits. My sister is quite unreasonable in that regard. The mission of the Hunters is to live without romantic distractions of any kind.”
It makes more sense that the Hunters only being prohibited the company of men, as was stated by the Titan’s Curse. I like that Rick fixed that, too.
AND ARTEMIS BEING COMPASSIONATE AND LETTING THEM LEAVE HER GROUP WITHOUT PUNISHING THEM, GODS BLESS HER SOUL.
Also, Zeus forbidding Artemis from interfering with Apollo makes me so angry, but I didn’t expect anything less than that coming from him. It was good, though, that Artemis sent her Hunters to help Apollo discretely, just like when Apollo helped Percy and co. with rescuing Artemis and Annabeth.
- Apollo being thirsty as fuck:
Apollo having the hots for Tall, Dark & Handsome Jamie.
Apollo being a fluttering mess when talking to him, then feeling away as soon as he heard Jamie had a girlfriend.
Apollo canonically having fantasies involving Thalia: “Thalia Grace climbed up behind me on the elephant- which fulfilled a daydream I’d once had about the pretty Hunter, though I hadn’t imagined it happening quite this way.”
Apollo canonically doing all sort of stuff to get Britomartis’ attention. To get a “kiss” and a “cute date” from her. (
We all know that he wanted more than just a date and a kiss, but alas, this is a “children’s book”)
- Apollo and Commodus:
I’m aware that Commodus is evil, and I don’t like him as a character, but honestly, his relationship with Apollo killed me unlike any other relationship ever had. More specially, this:
“Overhead, a white silk canopy billowed in the gentle breeze. Inn one corner, a musician sat discretely serenading us with his lyre. Under our feet spread the finest rugs from the eastern provinces. Between our two couches, a table was spread with an afternoon snack of roast boar, pheasant, salmon, and fruit spilling from gold solid cornucopia.
I was amusing myself by throwing grapes at Commodus’ mouth. Of course, I never missed unless I wanted to, but it was fun to watch the fruit bounce off Commodus’ nose.
“You are terrible,” He teased me.
And you are perfect, I thought, but merely smiled.”
“I didn’t mean to laugh at the expense of his distant wife, but part of me was pleased when he talked badly about her. I wanted all his attention for myself.”
And, of course:
“Commodus looked at me, panic in his eyes.
“Go,” I said, as calmly as I could, forcing down my misgivings. “You will always have my blessings. You will do fine.”
But I already suspected what would happen: the young man I knew and loved was about to be consumed by the emperor he would become.
He rose and kissed me one last time. Then he left the tent- walking, as Romans would say, into the mouth of the wolf.
“Apollo,” Calypso nudged my arm.
“Don’t go!” I pleaded. Then my past life burned away. “
Never forget this hear-wrenching part:
“As I often did for him after our workout sessions, I filled his great marble bath with streaming rose-scented water. I helped him out of his soiled tunic and eased him into the tub. For a moment, he relaxed and closed his eyes.
I recalled how he looked sleeping besides me when we were teens. I remembered his easy laugh as we raced through the woods, and the way his face scrunched up adorably when I bounced grapes off his nose.
I sponged away the spittle and blood from his beard. I gently washed his face. Then I closed my hands around his neck. “I’m sorry.”
I pushed his head underwater and began to squeeze. Commodus was strong. Even in his weakened state, he thrashed and fought. In had to channel my godly might to keep him submerged, and, in doing so, I must’ve revealed my true nature to him.
He went still, his blue eyes wide with surprise and betrayal. He could not speak, but he mouthed the words: You. Blessed. Me.
The accusation forced a sob from my throat. The day his father died, I had promised Commodus: You will always have my blessings, Now I was ending his reign. I was interfering in mortal affairs- not just to save lives, or to save Rome, but because I could not stand to see my beautiful Commodus die by anyone else’s hands.
I hunched over him, crying, my hands around his throat, until the bathwater cooled.
Britomartis was wrong. I didn’t fear water. I simply couldn’t look at the surface of any pool without imagining Commodus’ face, stung with betrayal, staring up at me.”
Rick Riordan has a talent of portraying gods and their actions unlike anyone else.
Apollo loved Commodus, he loved him deeply and wholeheartedly, but he couldn’t see anyone else killing his beloved Commodus. He killed him, for he could not stand the way the young man he loved had destroyed himself, turning into a murderous, evil emperor.
For me, Apollo has always been a complex god.
He said so himself in the first book, when he called his arrogance a pretense, when he mentioned he was a guilt-ridden, miserable god. He has never been good at love, for some reason, all of his lovers end tragically in one way or another, some by his own hand (Cassandra, Commodus, etc). It weighs him down more than he admitted when he was a god. As a mortal, he is more connected to his emotions, and is unable to put his usual facade of coolness and of arrogance.
Everything he has done, every sin he has committed, weighs him down:
“I imagined Trophonius’ head transposed on his body- my son’s agonized voice crying to the heavens, Take me instead! Save him, Father, please!
This blended with the face of Commodus, staring at me, wounded and betrayed as his carotid pulse hammered against my hands. You. Blessed. Me.
I sobbed and hugged the commode- the only thing that wasn’t spinning. Was there anyone I hadn’t betrayed and disappointed? Any relationship I hadn’t destroyed?
- And, since we’re talking about Apollo and his change, I’d like to mention his relationship with Meg.
In the beginning, he could not stand her. Then by the end of the first book, he cared for her. Now, on this second book, the feeling grows and morphs into something so profound and so beautiful that I do not have words for it.
“No! She was- she was trying to protect me.” I choked on the words. “She is my friend. Take me instead!”
“She is precious to you,” Said the Oracle. “Would you give your life in exchange for hers?”
I had trouble processing that question. Give up my life? At any point in my four thousand years of existence, my answer would’ve been an emphatic No! Are you crazy? One should never give up on one’s life. One’s life is important! The whole point of my quests in the mortal world, finding and securing all these ancient Oracles, was to regain immorality so I wouldn’t have to ponder such awful questions!
And yet… I thought of Emmie and Josephine renouncing immortality for each other. I thought of Calypso giving up her home, her powers, and eternal life for a chance to roam the world, experience love, and possibly enjoy the wonders of high school in Indiana.
“Yes,” I found myself saying. “Yes, I would die for Meg McCaffrey.”
And lastly but not least important:
When Apollo shared Meg’s curse, slipping into her mind and trying to save her: “I would share this burden with her, even if it kills me.”
What saved us what a simultaneous thought: Meg/Apollo needs me.
There we had Apollo, someone that, supposedly, only cared about himself, risking his life, his human life, to save his little but beloved friend from madness and darkness.
It’s a beautiful moment, more so for those of us that adore Apollo since before the PJO books. It’s a beautiful character development from the fuckboy we saw in Titan’s Curse; it’s a beautiful character development from the god that we met in the first TOA book, the god that could only feel annoyance towards Meg.
“Let the girl go,” I whimpered through the pain. “Kill me and let her go.”
I surprised myself. These were not the last words I had planned. In the event of my death, I’d been hoping to have time to compose a ballad of my glorious deeds- a very long ballad. Yet here I was, at the end of my life, pleading not for myself, but for Meg McCaffrey.”
- The mention of other gods through the book:
Apparently, gods have a weekly game night in Mount Olympus where Athena loves to gloat about her Scrabble scores.
AND THIS SAVAGE LINES: (AKA: my cute, dorky ex-god being dorky as fuck)
“Ever since my famous battle with Python, I’ve had a phobia of scaly reptilian creatures. (Especially if you include my stepmother, Hera. BOOM!)
“I’ve always found spiders fascinating creatures, despite what Athena thinks. If you ask me, she’s just jealous of their beautiful faces. BOOM!”
This important, yet short part:
Leto knelt at Zeus’ side, her hands clasped in prayer. Her bronze arms glowed against her white sundress. Her long golden hair zigzagged down her back in an elaborate ladder weave.
“Please, my lord!” She implored. “He is your son. He has learned his lesson!”
“Not yet,” Zeus rumbled. “His real test is yet to come.”
I laughed and waved. “Hi, mom! Hi, dad!”
There we have a glimpse of Leto being concerned over Apollo’s fate and we see that she cares. Zeus is, as always, being shady as fuck, and Apollo is super cute while hallucinating and being under the effect of the waters of Mnemosyne and Lethe.
- Apollo realizes how hard some demigods have it:
“I’m new to these heroic-quest business. Shouldn’t there be a reward at the end? Not just more deadly quests?”
“Nope,” Leo said. “This is pretty standard.”
My sweet, innocent Lester seems to forget that when he was Apollo, as a god, he never cared much for the quests he made demigods go through.
“I wondered if demigods ever felt the need to restrain themselves when facing ungrateful gods like this. No. Surely not. I was special and different. And I deserved better treatment.”
Had Percy Jackson been there, he would’ve written a gigantic thesis statement with a power-point presentation about how wrong Apollo was.
Also, this part:
“I knelt next to him- a boy of about sixteen, my mortal age. I felt no pulse. I didn’t know whose side he had fought on, but that didn’t matter. Either way, his death had gone to waste. I had begun to think that perhaps demigod lives were not as disposable as we gods liked to believe.”
Finally, at the moment of war, Apollo realizes how easy it is for a mortal to die. And most times, demigods die because of the gods.
- The part where they find out Georgina might be Apollo’s daughter:
The whole scene, though the most painful part was when Emmie asked if it was payback for having renounced to his gift of immortality:
“I hadn’t known I could feel any worse, until I did. I really hate that about the mortal heart. It seems to have an infinite capacity of getting heavier.
“Dear Emmie,” I said. “I would never. Even on my worse days, when I’m destroying nations with plague arrows or putting together set lists for Kidz Bop compilations, I would never take revenge in such a way…”
That shows that he was a good god, even if he murdered and punished people, he had some kind of morality. He knew where his boundaries went: like when he mentioned that he flirted with the Hunters, but that he would never dare to go any further than that.
Had it been Zeus, he would’ve raped them already; and canonically, on mythology, I’ve never read about any case of Apollo raping anyone.
- Also, I really liked that Rick added certain parts that showed that our actions, as mortals, are what define us and that, once we take one wrong decision, we cannot pray for better things when it is us that fuck things up.
I’ve heard so many people complain that their prayers were never answered, that their God never helped them. They don’t seem to realize that God cannot help us if we don’t help ourselves first.
It’s shown here:
“Don’t blame me for you robbing the king’s treasury!” I snarled. “You are here because you messed up.”
“I prayed to you!”
“Well, perhaps you didn’t pray for the right thing at the right time!” I yelled. “Pray for wisdom before you do something stupid! Don’t pray for me to bail you out after you follow your worst instincts!”
Apollo’s son, Trophonius, made wrong choices all his life, and when it came back to him, he wanted his father to miraculously save him. It doesn’t work like that, God/gods cannot help if we try to make them fix our whole lives.
- The way they temporarily defeated Commodus. (I found extremely pretty the way Apollo’s real form was revealed) (Finally we had an explanation as to why gods’ real forms are deadly to mortals: they’re pure light.)
- The second chance Apollo gave Lityerses. “Everything alive deserves a chance to grow.
- Lityerses sobbing when Emmie said he could be part of their family.
- All the “lit” jokes. And the commode ones too.
- “The two bumped fists as if they hadn’t spent the last few days talking about how much they wanted to kill each other. They would’ve made fine Olympian gods.”
- Little Georgina’s words to Apollo. How he told her he was there for her if she wanted to talk. How he was concerned about her, even if he was not sure if she was his daughter.
- “You’ve built something good here, Hemithea.” I said. “Commodus could not destroy it. You’ll restore what you’ve lost. I envy you.”
Everywhere he goes, Apollo seems to crave home. Not Olympus. Home, as in: a place where he’d feel loved and safe. In the 1st book, he wanted to stay in Camp with his children, now there, he admits that he craved the lovely home, the safe environment that they created at the Waystation.
“It all felt so homey and cozy, I wanted to volunteer to wash dishes if it meant getting to stay another day.”
- Apollo trying to fix what he did to Agamethus by offering to go to the Underworld once he became a god again, to ask Hades to send him to Elysium.
- “Never underestimate the healing power of music.”
- Lit staying in the Waystation.
- Apollo mentioning that he believed in second chances, and that he could understand Lit since they had things in common- being attractive being one of those things.
- Apollo’s talking arrow only speaking bad Shakespearean English.
- “Being productive. Urgh.” Same, Apollo, same.
- The whole choo-choo scene, I don’t now why but I really really loved that part.
- The fact that WE MIGHT GET TO SEE REYNA, FRANK AND HAZEL ON THE NEXT BOOK.
- GROVER UNDERWOOD IS FINALLY BACK. MY SON, MY BABY, MY FAVORITE ENCHILADA LOVER SATYR. HE WILL BE BACK.
I must’ve missed many points, but this was already very long. In general, I really loved The Dark Prophecy, and I recommend everyone to read it as soon as they can! It is honestly so, so good. As good as the first one, I cannot wait for The Burning Maze!