Cows, Snakes, and Troglodytes REVIEWING The Tower of Nero

Welcome to The Real World According To Sam! It's Magic Monday, so we are talking about a special book published by Disney-Hyperion...the LAST BOOK in the Trials of Apollo series! I meant to talk about this last November, but I got slammed didn't happen. So it's happening now. 

Spoilers ahead for the previous four installments in The Trials of Apollo.

The Trials of Apollo #5: The Tower of Nero

Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: YA Fantasy
Year: 2020

The Tower of Nero


At last, the breathtaking, action-packed finale of the #1 bestselling Trials of Apollo series is here! 

Will the Greek god Apollo, cast down to earth in the pathetic moral form of a teenager named Lester Papadopoulos, finally regain his place on Mount Olympus? 

Lester's demigod friends at Camp Jupiter just helped him survive attacks from bloodthirsty ghouls, an evil Roman king and his army of the undead, and the lethal emperors Caligula and Commodus. Now the former god and his demigod master Meg must follow a prophecy uncovered by Ella the harpy. 

Lester's final challenge will be at the Tower of Nero, back in New York. Will Meg have a last showdown with her father? Will this helpless form of Apollo have to face his arch nemesis, Python? Who will be on hand at Camp Half-Blood to assist? These questions and more will be answered in this book that all demigods are eagerly awaiting. 


Here we are, at last. The final book in The Trials of Apollo series and the final book in the world of Percy Jackson, at least right now. This book was published in October of last year. Today's review is a bit different from normal, because I didn't experience this book in a way that was normal for me. 

If you read my review from last Friday, you know that the Star Wars book Most Wanted was my very first audiobook. This title is my second. Therefore, I'm reviewing the audiobook of The Tower of Nero. Why did I choose to listen to the audiobook? I kind of didn't. The public library is where I get most of my books for reviewing and with this pandemic, the options have been a bit limited. They hadn't purchased a copy of this book in an e-book format. All they had was the audiobook edition so that's what I did. Naturally, they just got the physical copy, after I already finished with the audiobook and everything. Isn't that just how things go sometimes? 

When last we left Apollo, he had survived more run-ins with people who wanted to kill him. He freed another Oracle, got a terza rima prophecy, and had a "Sweet Caroline" sing-along with the arrow of Dodona. So what is going on now? 

More challenges, more people and beings that want to kill Apollo, and lots of mythological references. The usual. Lester/Apollo has made many allies along the way so we get to see more familiar faces again. We hang out with Percy's family and have a nice chat with Rachel. Then we get onto avoiding death, as is the norm with these stories. In this book we hear about troglodytes, deal with strange cows, and eventually get into the big climactic battle we have been expecting since the first book in this series. 

The story is the fun (in usual Riordan fashion) and at this point, if you love the style Riordan writes in and the main characters in this series, you're going to really enjoy this book. If you've been on the fence with it, this one book won't necessarily convert you, but you'll have completed the series! I do think there is a lot of fun in this book and found myself laughing several times. Does the series feel complete? Yeah. I think there is enough closure here to feel satisfied. It isn't the best series Riordan has written, but it's definitely a really fun one. 

Now let me get to the specifics of the edition I experienced. I listened to the audiobook. This is the only audiobook in this series I have heard. The narrator is Robbie Daymond. For anyone who doesn't know, Robbie Daymond is a voice actor with numerous television and video game voice acting credits. Some of television credits include Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the 2017 animated series, Spider-Man, various voices in Naruto: Shippuden, the Eighth Brother in Star Wars Rebels, and he was Mamoru Chiba, better known as TUXEDO MASK in the Viz Media dub of Sailor Moon from the 90s. He also dubbed Tuxedo Mask for the English versions of the Sailor Moon movies, such as Hearts on Ice. Some of his video game credits include a few voices in Ghost of Tsushima, additional voices in Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Just Cause 4. In short, his voice acting resume is pretty awesome. He doesn't always have lead roles, but the roles he has done that I am familiar with have been good (mostly Sailor Moon and his assorted Star Wars and Marvel roles).  

So how does he do with this audiobook? He does awesome, actually. Like Most Wanted, I had the audio sped up a little, so I could get through it faster. I went through the first few chapters at normal speed and they sounded good. It was just my preference to finish faster, because I prefer to read physically. Several times I was laughing out loud and was able to follow the action well, once I got settled into my personal, preferred habits. This time around, I wasn't playing Minecraft. While listening to this audiobook, I predominantly did diving runs on Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Diving runs are how I make most of my Bells on the game. I fill my pockets with creatures from diving, and then sell them. I do the same thing, over and over again. It doesn't take a lot of my mental focus, so that time is when I listen to playlists to find new music, listen to podcasts, or in this case....listen to audiobooks. I had fewer problems paying attention to this book. I didn't have to rewind too much and overall had a much more enjoyable experience with it than the last audiobook I tried. 

In my review of the last audiobook I remarked on how one voice actor has to fit all the roles, gender aside. That is also the case for this book, but there is a big, narrative difference that made it work. This book is written from a first person perspective. Apollo/Lester narrates the majority of the story. Other characters' dialogue is present, but every thought is Apollo's. Robbie Daymond also has a broader vocal range than the narrator of the other audiobook I listened to. He's able to make each voice distinct and make a whole new dialect sound for the troglodytes. The other thing that helps this audiobook, hindering the other one, is none of these characters have voices already. Most of the characters in this book have not been seen on TV or in a film. There is no full expectation for how they should sound in relation to any particular actor. Therefore, I was able to relax a lot more and not constantly be thinking, "Apollo doesn't sound like that. So and so actor doesn't talk like that." It was a fresh experience and the contrast in perspective made all the difference in the world for me. 

Overall, this is a really fun book and I would even recommend the audiobook version of it. I had a blast hearing it. Even though it still isn't my preference, thanks to this book, I'd be more likely to check out another audiobook in the future...most likely to listen to while I'm doing my Animal Crossing diving runs. This one really made the format seem viable to me as a listener. Riordan's story is entertaining and it kept me engrossed even when experiencing it in a new way. This audiobook gets a Lone Star review of 

Thanks for joining me for today's review at The Real World According To Sam, where I bring the books to your computer screen and even put in my two cents about them!