Rick Riordan did it again. Returning to Camp Half-Blood was everything we needed, and we truthfully would have loved it even if it was subpar, but The Hidden Oracle was anything but mediocre.
The novel marks the beginning of the third series set in the Percy Jackson universe, and it does an amazing job of expanding existing lore and bringing new lore to light. Following Gaea’s rise in The Blood of Olympus, Apollo is stripped of his God-status and is sent to Earth to live as a mortal. The only way to regain his immortality and abilities? To complete a series of trials.
As he discovers the paths he must take toward his redemption, we get a lot of insight into his psyche and his past. He discusses a lot of memories from his immortal life, and becoming mortal forces him to reflect on a lot of actions for which he was responsible as a god (for example: sending ample demigods to their deaths because he lacked true understanding of mortality).
One of the more interesting connections is also that which Apollo makes with each of his demigod children that he meets at Camp Half-Blood. He remarks that he would feel accomplished and proud if he remembered one demigod’s birthday every now and then, but even by the middle of the book he is willing to sacrifice himself to help his children that go missing in the forest at camp.
Apollo isn’t the only one that gets an interesting psyche for the reader to examine. Meg, the daughter of Demeter who ultimately controls Apollo, is revealed to be related to Nero, the Beast. However, Nero plays mental games with her and she begins making excuses for him, often saying that the Beast and Nero aren’t the same, that the Beast needs to be brought out of Nero. With this we see the manipulation Nero has forced onto Meg, as he is always the Beast and he makes her believe she is the problem for bringing the Beast out.
The Hidden Oracle, while expanding the universe, is a celebration of the series that preceded it. The Golden Fleece and the Athena Parthenos appear and play roles in the climax, Leo returns having reunited with Calypso (who no longer has her magic either!), and Nico finds a happy relationship with Apollo’s son, Will Solace, after coming clean to Percy about having feelings for him in The Blood of Olympus. Possibly the biggest connection, though, is the discovery of Triumvirate Holdings, who appear to have been behind everything in some fashion since the very first Percy Jackson series.
The Hidden Oracle also brings much needed LGBT+ representation to the Percy Jackson franchise. Nico is gay, but he never found love until this book. Furthermore, the lead character, Apollo, is bisexual and discusses throughout the book his love for both Hyacinthus and for Daphne.
Overall, The Hidden Oracle plays with human mortality and the human psyche more than Riordan’s other books and it adds a refreshing taste to the ever-growing Percy Jackson universe. Two more books in the series are already released and we cannot wait to continue reading to see how Apollo’s prophecy from the Grove of Dodonna plays out!
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