“This book has everything I appreciate from Rick Riordan’s writing: humour, action, adventure and, yes, heartbreak.”



Apollo is still the flabby Lester Papadopoulos and he and Meg are on the trail of the third of the deadly Roman Emperors and yet another Sibyl who has been imprisoned. Hierophile is shackled in red hot manacles and Apollo is aware that there is a trap in wait but he has to follow what destiny has decreed.

Riordan has imagined another world full of monsters – ventus or fire dragons, pandai with huge ears armed with khanda who come from India and strix or some form of blood sucking bird that curse those who kill them. As aids Apollo has Aphrodite’s daughter Piper, his own half brother Jason and the satyr Grover, not to mention a host of nymphs and dryads.

The enemy at hand is the maddest of Roman emperors, Caligula who extends his legendary extravagance to a host of mega yachts that stretch end to end across the bay of Santa Barbara. Rirodan adds natural disaster as an undercurrent to the action of the story – the wildfires that are breaking out in California near Palm Springs are the result of Caligula’s machinations and his attempt to become the new sun god, putting a subtle new focus of global warming. Caligula sees nature as a threat – as he sees most things as threats – and in his attempt to destroy nature he was instrumental in destroying Meg’s life and handing her over to his nephew Nero. However Riordan throws the forces of primeval nature against global warming and proves that nature can answer the call of the wild.

Riordan keeps his story complete in itself without requiring too much backtracking to the previous books though there are references to Indianapolis and other events. He throws in love, heartbreak and danger and proves that even demi gods, no matter how young and heroic, can be destroyed with a subtext of the way young people live and love while treading on the edge of the 21st century, while the Olympians are thoroughly dysfunctional.

The only point is possibly Apollo didn’t need to walk a mile in Caligula’s shoes after all.


Reviewed by:

Anjana Basu

Added 31st May 2018

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Anjana Basu