This past week, Rick Riordan released the final book of the “Trials of Apollo” series, a spinoff series of “The Heroes of Olympus” and “Percy Jack and the Olympians” series. “The Tower of Nero” marks the end of an era as it is the final book in the Camp Half-Blood Chronicles. The series follows the Greek god Apollo after being cast out of Olympus as punishment by his father, Zeus. To regain his immortality, he must complete a set of quests that could ultimately lead to his death. Along the way, he meets a young demigod named Meg, whom he teams up with and eventually befriends. Throughout the “Trials of Apollo,” many characters from the previous two series have made an appearance, including Percy Jackson.
This is a bittersweet goodbye for all fans of Rick Riordan and the groundbreaking characters that he created. Many fans, myself included, have grown up with these books, and now the chronicles have come to an end with a final story that puts all the puzzle pieces in their places, allowing readers to have a final goodbye with the characters with whom they grew up. Rick Riordan has earned the nickname “Uncle Rick” among his fans due to being almost like a crazy uncle. You know, the type that always has lovingly outlandish stories that enthrall everyone; he’s the type of relative who you can go to about any question or problem without fear of judgement. The last part especially rings true as Riordan has always made an effort to include representation of difficult topics and marginalized groups.
In the third grade, I stumbled upon the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series by pure luck. My mother had offered to buy me a book as a reward for something I can no longer remember. My hometown has very limited options when one wants to purchase a book, so I grabbed one off the shelf at random in the store. I have a vivid memory of sitting down in the aisle and reading the first ten pages of the “Lightning Thief.” Within such a short number of pages, I was already in love with the book. By winter, I had devoured the entire series and was waiting, not so patiently, for the first book of the spinoff series to be released. I was hooked.
I credit “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” with instilling in me a lifelong love of reading, a love affair that still lasts to this day. In fact, also after reading the series, I began writing. I filled up notebook after notebook with various short stories and ideas. Eleven years later, here I am, still writing. Rick Riordan and his books moved me to write just as much as they moved me to read. To this day, I am still inspired as I have chosen to major in creative writing and English.
It has been an honor to grow up with these characters, experiencing some of the same life changes and realizations these characters have. Much like numerous other fans, this series has always offered a place of solace for me during difficult and trying times by including characters who are going through some of the same things as I have, such as not fitting in. It does not matter whether a reader is in middle-school, high school, college or even beyond. The characters’ experiences transcend that of an age bracket; Riordan refuses to turn a blind eye to the needs of his readers, specifically his younger audiences. In doing so, he created a beautifully inclusive series that has such diverse representation for many ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions and genders; this series offers a supportive environment where anyone can be accepted.
Having just finished the “Tower of Nero” and writing this article simultaneously has been an emotional joyride. Despite everything, all I feel is pride and contentment. Pride for being a part of the long journey and contentment with how the “Camp Half-Blood Chronicles” has been elegantly brought to an end. Out of all these series, my favorite would have to be the “Trials of Apollo.” At its heart, the series proclaims that people can change for the better, which is a message I find particularly important in this day and age. At the start of the series, Apollo is a very self-centered character, who shows no regard to other’s feelings; however, as the series progresses, his character evolves drastically to the point where he willingly puts his life on the line to save others. It really drives home the point that it is never too late to change one’s ways. If a four-thousand-year-old Greek god can become a better person, then anyone can. Saying goodbye to this wonderfully developed character has been difficult. We laughed and cried together. We’ve both matured as people together. Reading about Apollo’s journey and witnessing his beautiful character growth has been a literary highlight for the past five years. I could not have asked for a better ending to the “Camp Half-Blood Chronicles.” The final page-and-a-half of the book will stay with me for a long while yet.
Above all, I am so grateful for the “Camp Half-Blood Chronicles,” a series that I have been reading for more than half my lifetime. From the young age of nine to the age of 20, I express my sincerest gratitude to Rick Riordan for these life-altering stories; stories that will never leave me and will always be there for me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Uncle Rick.