Zeus has punished his son Apollo – god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more–by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo/Lester do anything about them without his powers? After experiencing a series of dangerous–and frankly, humiliating–trials at Camp Half-Blood, Lester must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships–with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along with Apollo and Leo for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride.
Rick Riordan announced that he would be creating a new series on his The Sword of Summer tour, where he announced the title of his new book.
| Then there was the little one...
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"Welcome to the Waystation"
Apollo, still as a human named Lester Papadopoulos, arrives in Indianapolis on Leo Valdez's dragon, Festus, along with Leo himself and the now mortal Calypso. They are attacked by Nanette and her fellow Blemmyae and flee following a ghost wearing cheese-colored clothes. The trio is saved by an elderly woman named Hemithea, Emmie for short. She takes to the Waystation, a hidden refuge for demigods and Hunters of Artemis where they can take shelter.
Apollo reveals that he actually made Emmie and her sister, Parthenos, goddesses, but then they both joined the Hunters of Artemis. However, Emmie lost her immortality when she fell in love with a woman named Josephine. There is a kids' room filled with sinister drawings on the wall, it belongs to Georgina, Jo and Emmie's adopted daughter. The cheese ghost turned out to be Agamethus, brother of Trophonius, the next oracle. He had his head cut off by his brother and is now forced to communicate with a Magic 8 Ball. Suddenly, Britomartis, goddess of traps and proprietor of the Waystation, appears. She announces that the middle emperor has kidnapped her pet griffins. Britomartis insists for Leo to stay behind, so Apollo decides to take Calypso to the zoo tomorrow.
"Liberating the Griffins"
He has a dream in the headquarters of the emperor: Commodus. He chews out his Germani for letting Meg McCaffrey get away. His new prefect, Lityerses, slices their heads off and takes their place. Leo is not happy that Lit is back, recalling the last time he encountered him with his father, Midas. Apollo and Calypso reach the zoo and avoid all the germani Commodus sent. But they are spotted and encounter Lit, only to be saved by Meg. Meg still believes Nero but she helps Apollo anyway. They escape on the train and find a lot of captive animals, including Abelard and Heloise.
"Obtaining the Throne of Memory"
After returning to the Waystation, Apollo has a flashback dream where he pretended to be Commodus' trainer, Narcissus, and drowned the emperor. When he wakes, Britomartis tells him of an entrance to Commodus' palace. He takes Meg and Leo to the sewers where Commodus resides. Near the only entrance, they are attacked by a Carthaginian Serpent. Deep in the sewers, they obtain the Throne of Memory and free captives: a Yoruba demigod named Olujime AKA Jamie, a Scythian Dracaena named Sssssarah, a hunter named Hunter Kowalski, and Georgina. Unfortunately, they then end up in the Lucas oil stadium where the rehearsal of Commodus' naming ceremony begins. The emperor appears and sends combat ostriches and other animals to attack the trio as a rehearsal for his naming ceremony. After they hold everyone off, Commodus reveals a bound Peaches and plans to burn him with his train. After Apollo uses Livia the elephant to stop him, Festus arrives to save them all. Lityerses betrays the emperor so he beats him up, prompting Apollo to take him along.
"Into the Oracle"
After returning, Georgina is placed on the throne of Memory. Trophonius relays a message to Apollo telling him it's time to go to the cave tomorrow morning. He also calls Georgina his little sister suggesting that she may be Apollo's daughter. Apollo and Meg drive to The Oracle of Trophonius with the guidance of the Arrow of Dodona. An entrance is guarded by Yales, beasts who literally can't be killed because they are endangered. Apollo drinks from the Fountains of Memory and Forgetfulness but Meg skips it to get away from the Yales and not act goofy like Apollo. Inside, they travel through the Bluespring Caverns until the find an island with the water filled with snakes. Apollo goes to the island to receive the prophecy but Meg becomes the petitioner when she sings to the snakes to try and save him. Trophonius mentally tortures Meg with images of her life, including her father's death, much to Apollo's horror and distraught. Remembering the prophecy from the Grove of Dodona, he gives mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to ease her suffering. When they leave they see Nanette and some other Blemmyae getting ready to blow up the oracle, it's a last resort of Commodus to get rid of Apollo. Per Trophonius' request, Apollo allows it but also tricks them into killing themselves and saving him and Meg as well. Peaches arrives with several Karpoi to help fight the Blemmyae off and drive the two back to the Waystation.
The Waystation is under attack by Commodus's forces, Lityerses actually helps protect them. Apollo briefly shows his Divine Form causing Commodus then jumps out the window and disappears. Meg is placed on the throne and recites a long prophecy regarding Camp Jupiter. Leo leaves on Festus to warn the camp but Calypso decides stays at the Waystation to prepare for their following school year there. As the prophecy states that "the cloven guide alone the way does know," Meg summons Grover Underwood.
The prophecy (which was given in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet) was given from The Oracle of Trophonius through Meg while at the Waystation:
The words that memory wrought are set to fire,
Ere new moon rises o'er the Devil's Mount.
The changeling lord shall face a challenge dire,
Till bodies fill the Tiber beyond count.
Yet southward must the sun now trace its course,
Through mazes dark to land of scorching death
To find the master of the swift white horse
And wrest from him the crossword speaker's breath.
To westward palace must the Lester go;
Demeter's daughter finds her ancient roots.
The cloven guide alone the way does know,
To walk the path in thine own enemy's boots.
When three are known and Tiber reached alive,
Tis only then Apollo starts to jive.
Unraveling The Prophecy
- Line 1 claims that The Sibylline Books (which held the original prophecies of the Cumaean Sybil), currently being reconstructed by Ella and her eidetic memory, are going to be burnt.
- Line 2 means that this attempt would happen at the new moon, five days from the day of the prophecy, at Mount Diablo, San Francisco – near the location of Camp Jupiter.
- Line 3 refers to Frank Zhang and a dangerous challenge he would be facing.
- Line 4 hints towards the consequences of failure being dire and brutal; uncountable dead would fill the Little Tiber that flows at the outskirts of Camp Jupiter.
- Line 5 urges Apollo, God of the Sun, that his destiny lies in the South, where he must recover his Oracles.
- Line 6 means his path would be through the Labyrinth, and towards somewhere in the Southwest that has extremely high temperatures.
- Line 7 refers to the third member of the Triumvirate, master of an extremely fast, white horse.
- Line 8 refers to freeing the Erythraean Sybil – who liked to use word puzzles and acrostics in her prophecies – from the captivity of third Emperor, who also owns said horse.
- Line 9 declares that Lester, Apollo's wayward mortal form, must go to a palace in the West.
- Line 10 is a reference to Meg finding her "roots"; what they are is unclear.
- Line 11 claims that only a satyr – who later turns out to be Grover Underwood – knows how to traverse the way and can guide them.
- Line 12 is, as of yet, unclear. Perhaps, though this is only conjecture, Apollo must do what his foes, the Triumvirate Holdings, have done before him; walking down the path they have.
- Lines 13 and 14, the last of the couplets, proclaim that only when Apollo knows who his three God-King foes are and manages to reach Camp Jupiter alive can he find his path to glory – and dance to the noble acoustics of victory. These will probably take him to his greatest triumph, facing the Python at Delphi.
- Lester (Apollo)/ Still human; thanks for asking/ Gods, I hate my life
- Headless guys and gals/ Not loving the Midwest vibe/ Oh, look—a cheese ghost
- My last performance/ Some old lady drops the mic/ And kills everyone
- No building should be/ A secret from Apollo/ Or drop bricks on him
- Tell you a story?/ Or I could just, like, pass out/ And twitch on the couch
- Oh, Magic 8 Ball/ Epic fail at prophecies/ Leo's ear's on fire
- I chopped those onions/ With my own ex-godly hands/ You'd better eat them
- Lovebirds arguing/ Trouble in Elysium?/ I'll just scrum these plates
- Of course it's a trap/ With her, it always is one/ Trappy McTrapface
- Scrubbing toilets now/ At least there's a great reward/ Leftover tofu
- Four beheaded dudes/ Are too much for one nightmare/ Why me? Sob. Sob. Sob.
- I sing of taters!/ Chili, sweet potato, blue!/ Why? Ask my arrow
- Fast-food restaurant/ My life goal is realized/ Any fries with that?
- Yeah, we got the skills/ Fake hexes and shooting feet/ Teach you 'bout pancakes
- Drivin' the green train/ I'm all like, Choo-choo! Choo-choo!/ Can't catch me!— Oh, poop!
- Son of a Midas/ You, sir, are a stupid-head/ Here, have an ostrich
- To the Waystation/ Meg McCaffrey eats my bread/ I cry godly tears
- My dear Commodus/ Commode is named after you/ Hail, Toilet Caesar
- Call me Narcissus/ Today I'll be your trainer/ I'll also kill you
- Pedaling in style/ Leg irons are fashionable/ Cue the screaming god
- Get me a legion/ And about six tons of rocks/ Need to kill a snake
- I wax poetic/ On the beauty of sewers/ Real short poem. Done
- So amaze! Such name!/ Sssssarah with five S's is/ Still two syllablessssss
- Science can be fun/ Squirt those toxic chemicals/ Anywhere, really
- Big birds are evil/ They charge me with razor legs/ I die and it hurts
- I tip my hat to/ The excellent elephant/ Let's be besties, 'kay?
- Destroy me a roof/ Bring with wenches with winches/ We're so out of here
- Belching stinky smoke/ What gene pool did you come from?/ Wait. What? (Insert scream)
- Carrot-peeling god/ Tofu stir-fry is good, but/ Needs more ígboyá
- Lester, slap yourself/ Oh, for just one night without/ Looking like a fool
- Start with a C chord/ Not all the keys, Meg. C does/ Not stand for Chaos
- Pretty fuzzy cow/ So cute, so warm and vicious!/ Squee! Can I kill him?
- Feeling groovy, I'm/ Drowning, freezing, snake surfing/ Life is good, Batman!
- Meg takes a solo/ Scares away her audience/ Good job, McCaffrey
- Man, I hate my son/ A real arrogant jerkwad/ Nothing like his dad
- Mind your p's and q's/ When you are arming bombs or—/ SPLAT—trample jelly
- Your favorite fruit?/ I hope you didn't say grapes/ Or apples, or figs
- Waystation damaged/ Commodus will pay for this/ And I don't take cash
- During this standoff/ No flash photography, please/ Oops. My bad. Ha-ha
- Shakespeare, don't bring that/ Iambic pentameter/ Up in my face, yo
- Prophecies don't mix/ With Tofurky and biscuits/ Just give me dessert
- Pancakes for the road/ Need a guide for your journey?/ Check the tomatoes
- On December 22, 2016, an excerpt from the first chapter was released.
- Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford is included in the Indian version of the book.
- On page 241 of the paperback version, Apollo states that he had met Indra, the Vedic god of storms, at some point in his years of godhood, and was searching for vindaloo on a late-night road trip.
- On a page in the book, Apollo calls the grain spirits something that references to the three wise monkeys.
- Part of Chapter 23 is called ¨So amaze! Such name!¨ It is a parody of a Doge meme.
- People from the state of Indiana are incorrectly referred to as 'Indianans' in the book when the proper term is 'Hoosier".