Updated: Dec 19, 2019
Rick Riordan’s career has already been something of an industry wonder. Just turning to the title page where the award-winning author’s catalog of titles is listed in its entirety creates a daunting, mind-boggling impression. It’s even more of a wonder that his books are still attracting fans and readers from all ages alike, shooting up on bestseller lists with his new releases amongst some of the biggest blockbusters in each year. It could be a result of Riordan’s insistence to stay grounded within his comfortable territory of the Percy Jackson and The Heroes of Olympus franchise, or it could just be the result of Riordan’s incredible talent to fashion such imaginative and snappy tales of humor, adolescence, and of course, mythological monsters. The author’s latest book The Tyrant’s Tomb bears no exception to the latter statement. It’s just as enjoyable of a read as any Riordan fan could have hoped for, dashing at a quick pace and bringing back some memorable fan favorites.
Indeed, The Tyrant’s Tomb relies heavily on the reader’s knowledge of previous books, especially those within The Heroes of Olympus series. It’s difficult to gauge whether newcomers to Riordan’s mythological world will still enjoy this latest installment, especially since little is done to develop characters past the point we last saw them in The Heroes of Olympus, meaning that these fan-favorite characters are at something of a stalemate. Either way, The Tyrant’s Tomb is a delightful enough read that it should suffice for most fans. Featuring a crackling plot, moist with intricate details and lore nuances, the fourth installment of The Trials of Apollo proves Riordan’s writing has never been better, paving the way for a hopefully great finale, despite botching its conclusion.
Kicking off right after the tragic conclusion of The Burning Maze (no spoilers here), The Tyrant’s Tomb launches its characters right into the next phase of Apollo’s (or Lester’s) trials. Embarking on a perilous journey to Camp Jupiter, the plot kicks off grandly, immediately latching onto the reader’s attention and never letting go until 423 pages later. However, what those 423 pages unfortunately miss is some form of emotional stakes. Coming off The Burning Maze and what its’ ending entailed, I was quite disappointed in how The Tyrant’s Tomb never takes the time to let the characters and the reader fully comprehend either the events of the past narrative or the ones of this narrative. It leaves The Tyrant’s Tomb far too light as if it was simply coasting across its plot rather than taking the time to explore the potentially nuanced themes some of the events suggest. It’s an issue that unfortunately plagues most of the author’s works, and it all comes to a head in the third act of The Tyrant’s Tomb, a crowded and bloated mess that doesn’t know when enough is enough.
However, on the other hand, there are more than just a handful of good thinks to remark about The Tyrant’s Tomb. Outside of setting the stage for the fifth and final book hitting store shelves next autumn, the book’s a remarkably fun time in of itself, even if it isn’t the natural direction. The humor is as alive and enjoyable as ever, clearly still targeting a younger crowd; the dialogue is smart and witty, making perfect use on some of the bizarre creatures and events, and the characters are all still their likable and sarcastic selves. What more could you ask? In all seriousness, however, The Tyrant’s Tomb, for as much as it is another bombastic Riordan novel, does have brief moments of storytelling genius, and these moments texture and spice the story into something far greater than its contemporaries.
In conclusion, The Tyrant’s Tomb mostly realizes the potential its acclaimed predecessor set out, only squandering it in the final act. The characters, from the dorky teenage personification of Apollo, Lester, to Meg to even returning fan favorites, all make exceptional impressions, lending themselves handily to such a whimsical narrative. It may not go down as the best Riordan book with a majority of its composition being set up for the final installment, but it’s certainly an enjoyable one and should satisfy and even delight both the long-time fans and the newcomers to Riordan’s massive readership.
It's not easy being Apollo, especially when you've been turned into a human and banished from Olympus. On his path to restoring five ancient oracles and reclaiming his godly powers, Apollo (aka Lester Papadopoulos) has faced both triumphs and tragedies. Now his journey takes him to Camp Jupiter in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the Roman demigods are preparing for a desperate last stand against the evil Triumvirate of Roman emperors. Hazel, Reyna, Frank, Tyson, Ella, and many other old friends will need Apollo's aid to survive the onslaught. Unfortunately, the answer to their salvation lies in the forgotten tomb of a Roman ruler . . . someone even worse than the emperors Apollo has already faced.
THE TRIALS OF APOLLO: THE TYRANT'S TOMB is Available Now.