Speaking of Indianapolis and ebooks, I read the new book in Rick Riordan’s modern Greek mythology series today: The Dark Prophecy, the second in a pentalogy covering the adventures of the god Apollo, who has been cast down from Olympus to live as a mortal (again). I was surprised and delighted to find that this book was set right here in my new hometown—in the very same part of downtown Indianapolis where Gen Con is held every year, in fact.

I checked out the ebook through the auspices of Hoopla Digital, which made it available for free checkout via its digital library service on the same day as it showed up in bookstores. I was able to read it on my desktop computer at work until I got about halfway through it, at which point it stopped functioning properly. (Perhaps the problem was so many people trying to read the same book at once?) Fortunately, the Hoopla reader still worked all right on my smartphone, and I was able to finish the book that way.

Given that this is the 17th book so far in the series, going into too much detail about the plot would be a little complicated (not to mention probably spoiling the stories behind earlier books). Suffice it to say that the now-mortal Apollo and a number of demigod and mortal companions have come to Indianapolis to locate and reclaim a lost oracle in the area. This quest is part of a larger battle against a triad of evil Roman emperors, whose veneration by their subjects had granted them the same deific status as the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, and other gods seen in Riordan’s various series.

In The Dark Prophecy, Apollo and friends stay in a secret area of Indianapolis’s historic Union Station, and engage in missions that take them to Indianapolis’s zoo, its historic Canal Walk, and Colts (well, okay, technically “Lucas Oil”) Stadium, among other such places. Other area institutions, such as Café Patachou and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (whose photo graces the cover of my tourist guide), also come in for mentions.

At first I thought he might have visited Indianapolis to do research, but in retrospect, there are a few odd little errors here and there (in particular, placing a converted warehouse building along the Canal Walk) that lead me to suspect he may simply have done a lot of Google research. But still, at least he tried. Maybe we can actually get him to visit Indianapolis for Gen Con sooner or later, and perhaps do some Writers Symposium panels; I’d love to meet him.

Like the first book in its pentalogy, The Dark Prophecy is written in a first-person perspective from the viewpoint of Apollo himself, and the narration is one of the most hilarious aspects of the book. Apollo had shown up several times in earlier works in the series, as a shallow, self-absorbed god who set Percy Jackson and friends tasks that often made their lives that much harder. (And who delighted in composing terrible haiku, of the sort which consequently grace the beginning of each chapter as epigrams.)

The first-person narration carries on that theme, with Apollo reminiscing about his encounters with various historical and mythological figures and bemoaning the injustice of his mortal punishment. But he also shows signs of beginning to grow as a person as the result of these hardships. I find myself wondering whether, by the end of the series, he might decide to remain mortal for a while himself as a result? Or how he will be changed should he return to godhood, in any event. But I won’t find that out until 2020.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It’s not every day you encounter a story that is set in such familiar surroundings—places you’ve actually been. And while it won’t have that appeal to people who haven’t actually been here, it’s still an amusing story well told, and definitely worth reading no matter what your age.

(Though if you haven’t been following the series as a whole, you might do better to start with The Lightning Thief and work your way forward—or at least read the previous book, The Hidden Oraclefirst.)

The only problem now is that I have to deal with the frustration of waiting a whole year to find out what happens next!

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