The ‘Nico di Angelo’ book could expand the Percy Jackson universe in a unique way

A Nico di Angelo book will be hitting store shelves in the future, and even if this isn’t shocking news, it’s undoubtedly a game-changer.

When Rick Riordan announced he’d be doing standalone novels set in the Percy Jackson universe, from the point of view of some of our favorite characters, my first instinct was that we’d get a Nico di Angelo story.

As a fan favorite, Nico would be a difficult one to avoid—it’s what a huge portion of the fandom wants—and Rick seems to enjoy including him in even some of the more recent books, like the Trials of Apollo series.

When I wrote about which characters were more likely to get their own spinoff novel, a Nico di Angelo standlone book was literally at the top of my list. I can’t wait to see what other characters will end up on the roster down the line, but for now, this news has me jumping for joy.

On October 6, the Daughter of the Deep virtual tour kicked off. I was in attendance with my Prophecy Radio co-host, Kristen, and we were both looking forward to seeing what Rick had to say about his new book (now coming out on October 26 due to COVID-related printing delays).

But we also knew there would be another announcement, which turned out to be the fact that Nico di Angelo (and by association Will Solace) will be getting his own book! Rick is co-writing the novel with Mark Oshiro, author of Anger Is a Gift.

This is the first time Rick will have co-written with another author, and the fact that he’s doing it within the confines of the Percy Jackson universe is, quite frankly, a huge deal. I have a lot of thoughts about what this could mean for the future of this series, but we’ll get there in a minute.

If you’re worried about someone else helping Rick tell Nico’s story—don’t be. Not only is Mark Oshiro part of the LGBTQ+ community, but they’re also a fan of the series. The love we’ve already seen from Mark feels like a testament to the amount of care they’re putting into this novel. I, for one, can’t wait to see the end result.

Mark’s already talked about how they’re 30,000 words into the book, which means they’re probably around the halfway point in the story. From his virtual tour event, we know Rick wrote the original outline for the book, and then Mark came in and made notes. Mark is currently writing the first draft, and then Rick will do the second. They’ll pass it back and forth until it’s perfect, and soon enough, it’ll be in our hands!

At this point in time, we don’t have any additional information about when the book may hit our shelves or what the book will actually be about. However, thanks to The Tower of Nero, we have some ideas of what Nico and Will may be getting up to in the spinoff. (Spoilers ahead if you haven’t finished the Trials of Apollo series.)

On page 375 of The Tower of Nero, Apollo checks back in with Nico di Angelo and Will Solace. It turns out Nico had been hearing a voice calling out from Tartarus, asking for help. He feels as though this is related to some unfinished business, and he thinks it could do with a certain Titan he left behind last time he was down there.

Iapetus, aka Bob, is the Titan lord of mortal life. We first meet him in the short story, “The Sword of Hades,” in which Ethan Nakamura releases him from Tartarus. After a serious battle between the two, Percy drags Iapetus into the River Lethe and wipes his mind, then convinces the Titan his real name is Bob.

Bob is given a job in the Underworld, which allows him to save Percy’s life in House of Hades. Bob’s story made Percy realize he had forgotten about and neglected Nico in much the same way as his Titan friend.

Bob’s story is about reformation and choosing to be a better person than you once were. Throughout House of Hades, he slowly regains his memory, but instead of being mad at Percy, he recognizes that he used to be a bad person. Bob chooses to sacrifice himself to save Percy and Annabeth, which makes Percy want to fix his relationship with Nico before it’s too late for them, too.

To date, no other line in any Rick Riordan book brings tears to my eyes as swiftly as, “Tell the sun and stars hello for me.” The fact that we could be seeing Bob (and Small Bob!) again in the Nico di Angelo book brings me so much joy, I can’t even put it into words.

“I feel like I should look for him, see if I can figure out what happened,” Nico says in Tower of Nero. “He might need my help. I don’t like it when people are overlooked.”

Rachel Elizabeth Dare wonders if Hades will be okay with Nico going back down to Tartarus, and Nico simply laughs. His father doesn’t want anyone visiting Tartarus, but Nico has a secret weapon in the shape of the troglodytes.

“No story ever ends, does it?” Will says. “It just leads into others.”

It’s this sentiment that solidified my speculation that Nico di Angelo would be the first character to get a spinoff novel—not least because of the prophecy that followed.

Unfortunately, Apollo didn’t hear what Rachel whispered to the two boys, which means we didn’t get to hear it either. Will admits that it didn’t sound good, but has their every been a prophecy full of ice cream and cotton candy and puppies playing in a field of wildflowers?

While we may not know what the exact prophecy entails, it’s not much of a leap to think it’ll lead straight to Tartarus. Perhaps Nico will need to break Bob out of the Underworld jail so the BFT (that’s Big Friendly Titan) can help him with a new quest.

Either way, I can’t wait to see what Rick and Mark will do with this character. It’s so exciting to know we’re getting another book set in the Percy Jackson universe, even though the main Camp Half-Blood Chronicles books are done.

That being said, I think it’s important to talk about the implications of Rick using a co-writer for the Nico di Angelo book. If this project goes well, I assume we’ll have other standalone novels in the future, all written with co-writers.

This prospect is beyond exciting for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’ll help lend more authenticity to the character. Yes, Nico is Rick’s creation, but bringing Mark into the fold means that a book set from Nico’s point of view will have a more authentic voice. Mark’s experiences will only add to what Rick has already brought to the table.

Down the line, this could also mean we get books for characters Rick wouldn’t feel comfortable writing solo stories about. His cast of characters is diverse, and while he’s done his research to make sure their portrayals are full of positive representation, writing a standalone novel from their perspective is an entirely different beast.

Just like Rick didn’t feel right writing about other mythologies, I can understand his hesitancy to write a book about, for example, Piper McLean, who’s both queer and half Cherokee. Rick Riordan Presents offers a platform for minorities to write about their culture and history, and in the same vein, these standalone novels could bring authentic and fresh voices to the table.

Logistically, this is also a smart choice. Let’s not forget that just because Rick has wrapped up the Camp Half-Blood Chronicles, it doesn’t mean he’s done by any stretch of the imagination. During Prophecy Radio episode 1, we talk extensively about Rick’s current projects, including—but not limited to—the Percy Jackson Disney+ show, the Kane Chronicles Netflix adaptation, the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, Daughter of the Deep and its subsequent adaptation, and his upcoming mystery project based on Irish mythology.

Yeah, he’s still got a few things going on.

Having a co-writer in his corner for a Nico di Angelo book (or any other standalone novel) means he can continue working on the Percy Jackson television show in addition to writing other books set outside the PJO universe. I count that as a win in my book.

But the number one reason why I’m stoked about the idea of Rick working with co-writers for these books is that it will expand the Percy Jackson universe in a unique way. Think about it: We could see a wider variety of characters getting their own books, including some tertiary characters that Rick might not have had time to write about if he were doing it himself.

Have you ever wondered what the other campers think of Percy and his friends? Like Lower Decks for the Star Trek franchise, some of these novels could take the focus off the main demigods and put the spotlight on supporting characters we otherwise would never notice.

Furthermore—and I can’t stress enough how much this is just pure speculation and caffeine-fueled delirium—how incredible would it be if Rick invited select authors to create their own characters and allowed them to play in his sandbox with Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, and all the others.

And going a step beyond—as Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities has hinted that many of the Rick Riordan Presents characters have ways of visiting each other’s worlds—what would it be like to have Roshani Chokshi co-write a book in which Aru Shah meets Percy Jackson? What would happen if Carlos Hernandez’ Sal and Gabi got to team up with Leo Valdez?

The likelihood of this happening feels slim-to-none at the moment, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try to figure out a way in which all of my favorite Riordanverse characters could find a way to stand in the same room.

But suffice it to say that the Nico di Angelo book promises to give us what we’ve all been asking for over the years—more Solangelo. Even better, it hints at a future in which the Percy Jackson universe is ever-expanding, and one where we never have to say goodbye to our friends.

Are you looking forward to the Nico di Angelo book?