The magic inside Rick Riordan’s “The Hidden Oracle”

Todd Kleiboer, Co-Editor

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From god to wannabe, Apollo faces the ultimate test of his character in Rick Riordan’s new series “The Trials of Apollo”, its third installment coming in May. The sun god has been cast down by his angry father Zeus and stripped of his godliness (again), but this time, it’s different. Dark powers are rising, and they have caused  Apollo to turn completely human, not a pseudo-god that he had been apparently turned into before. With the help of the demigod Meg, Apollo has to revive his Oracles under control of these dark powers.

The first book “The Hidden Oracle” starts with Apollo landing square in a dumpster and attempting to take on two thugs, but since he’s an average teen, he can’t exactly disintegrate them like he wanted. Meg comes to his aid, and then their adventure begins. They find that ancient, notorious Roman emperors have stayed alive for centuries by taking on a godly status, and the emperors have allied with Python, another ancient enemy, to take over the Oracles across the world, restricting the demigod’s access to prophecies. Prophecies are needed to send out people on quests, and Apollo and Meg have to work together to restore the one Oracle not under the control of the emperors. Spoiler: they succeed. However, it’s not entirely a happy ending.

What’s interesting about this book is Riordan’s characterization of Meg. She is the adopted daughter of Nero, one of the Roman emperors, and a daughter of Demeter, the goddess of harvest. However, she’s suffered trauma in her childhood from abuse stemming from Nero; however, she doesn’t associate Nero with her abuse. She has created an alternate persona for Nero’s anger called the Beast, and she locks up whenever someone either tries to explore her past or criticize Nero. It’s interesting to witness Riordan trying to delicately write about this sensitive topic, and he does a good job of educating the reader on how to address a friend that might have gone through something like Meg did.

Riordan also makes Apollo an unreliable narrator in that Apollo is an arrogant, egotistical former god that can not see the struggles that demigods go through daily. Apollo is not easy to like as a character though I believe Riordan intended for that, and Apollo slowly but surely becomes more aware of the sacrifices made by other characters. He does redeem himself in the end by admitting all of his flaws in a song, something so humbling that no god of Olympus was dare to do, but Apollo still retains a bit of that inherent cockiness that might just be part of his natural personality. In short, Apollo doesn’t exactly portray the other characters in a warm light because of his self-centered outlook. However, it is transparent enough to the reader to glimpse at Apollo’s true human trait of self-consciousness.

“The Hidden Oracle” is a magical ride from start to finish, and I will admit I may be a bit bias because of my long readership of Riordan books. However, they are a joy to pick up, and this book lives up the Riordan reputation. I especially appreciate Riordan now that he is delving into more serious topics, and I never fail to learn something about the world when I explore his books.