Start with a zombie attack while transporting a fallen comrade home, using tattoos to decipher bits of prophecy, metal greyhounds (robot dogs seem a little out of place but it does kind of work), a bookstore cat, trying to figure out how to counter a massive attack/invasion on Camp Jupiter, and facing off against formerly dead (?) emperor of Rome (the nastier ones), and conclude with some of Lester’s godliness starting to come back in time for what hopefully is the final face off against the main bad guy. This is the general plot of The Tyrant’s Tomb (Trials of Apollo 4). Thankfully, there’s enough action to keep focus off of Lester and Meg as characters because when there are attempts at character development, especially for Apollo/Lester, it just comes off as mostly forced. The praetores Frank and Reyna get enough page time in this one that they both get some good development, and they both get to participate a good bit in the action.
I kind of wish I knew San Francisco geography a little more since that’s where the majority of the story takes place, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the places are real, at least in name. This would be useful in following the battle stuff in the last third or so of the novel since the action gets broken up to follow a couple of groups who gradually have to find their ways back to each other. I also kind of wish we’d get to see more of the battle unicorns, and then there’s Peaches. Peaches appears part way into the story, just in time to help plan for the big confrontation, but I’d still like to know why in the manner of Pokemon it only says its name with varying emphases to communicate. These two things are small annoyances that don’t get in the way too much, but they still feel a little like a missed opportunity.
I remember from the last novel that the big main-ish character death seemed out of the blue, and now I’m wondering if that wasn’t all set up for a few twists in this part of the story, since knowing that past death means you have to be worried about the potential for another main character death only to be faked out, and then a secondary newer character death that is kind of but not totally the end for that individual. The end of the novel that sets up hopefully what’s the final confrontation and conclusion of this series suggests a return to the Meg and Lester duo focus that worries me a little, but it also contains a literary reference I appreciated, so there’s that. It’ll be a while until the next novel comes out, so we’ll have to wait til then to find out 1) what happens, and 2) if the conclusion is really there because if not, I can see how this could be stretched out but I may not be able to make it to the end if that’s what happens.