Rick Riordan may have closed the book on Percy Jackson for now, but that doesn’t mean he’s done writing! In fact, he has a new novel ready to launch later this year.
Fans of the Camp Half-Blood Chronicles series had to say goodbye to Percy Jackson in 2020 when author Rick Riordan wrote the final book in the series, The Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero. It was a bittersweet ending because we got to see Apollo become the person (and god) we always knew he could be, while also knowing it would be a little while until we jumped back into this universe.
In an interview with Hypable, Riordan talked about his interest in writing standalone novels about individual demigods from the Percy Jackson world. The fan favorite choice to kick off that project is Nico di Angelo, but there are no official announcements as of yet.
However, Riordan has been teasing us with an upcoming project that’s not set in the Percy Jackson universe. In fact, it’s not even a mythology-based book!
In an announcement from Barnes & Noble, we learned it’s called Daughter of the Deep.
This novel is a stand-alone homage to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and it’s got us excited to see Riordan tackling something pretty different than what he’s written over the last 15 years or so.
The official Daughter of the Deep synopsis is below:
Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, a five-year high school that graduates the best marine scientists, naval warriors, navigators, and underwater explorers in the world. Ana’s parents died while on a scientific expedition two years ago, and the only family she’s got left is her older brother, Dev, also a student at HP. (And they’ve heard all the Harry Potter jokes already, so don’t go there.) Ana’s freshman year culminates with the class’s weekend trial at sea, the details of which have been kept secret. She only hopes she has what it’ll take to succeed. All her worries are blown out of the water when, on the bus ride to the ship, Ana and her schoolmates witness a terrible tragedy that will change the trajectory of their lives. But wait, there’s more. The professor accompanying them informs Ana that their rival school, Land Institute, and Harding-Pencroft have been fighting a cold war for a hundred and fifty years. Now that cold war has been turned up to a full broil, and the freshmen are in danger of becoming fish food. In a race against deadly enemies, Ana will make amazing friends and astounding discoveries about her heritage as she puts her leadership skills to the test for the first time.
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There’s no Daughter of the Deep cover yet, but the temporary cover offers some interesting elements to pick apart:
Given the context, this looks to be a submarine underwater. An octopus tentacle curls around the publishing date (“coming up for air”) in the bottom right-hand corner. Yeah, it definitely screams 20,000 Leagues.
The Daughter of the Deep release date is scheduled for October 5, 2021.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, that’s Rick Riordan at the top of this page in full scuba gear. If you’re curious about where this picture was taken, you can read Riordan’s blog post from January 15, 2017.
Along with all of this wonderful information, Rick has also shared a quick introduction for Daughter of the Deep where he talks about how Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues inspired him. Read it below:
My journey under the sea started in landlocked Bologna, Italy in 2008. I was there for a children’s book fair, right before The Battle of Labyrinth and The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones were scheduled for release. I was having dinner in the basement of a restaurant with about fourteen top brass from Disney Publishing when the president of the division turned to me and said, “Rick, is there any existing Disney intellectual property you’d love to write about?” I didn’t hesitate in saying, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” It took me another twelve years before I was ready to write it, but my version of that story is now in your hands.
Who is Captain Nemo? (No, not the cartoon fish)
If you’re not familiar with the original Captain Nemo, he’s a character created by the French author Jules Verne in the nineteenth century. Verne wrote about him in two novels, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1875), in which Nemo commands the world’s most advanced submarine, the Nautilus.
Captain Nemo was smart, well-educated, courteous, and massively wealthy. He was also angry, bitter, and dangerous. Imagine a combination of Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, and Lex Luthor. Formerly known as Prince Dakkar, Nemo had fought the British colonial government in India. In retaliation, the British killed his wife and children. This was Dakkar’s supervillain/superhero origin story. He renamed himself Nemo, which is Latin for no one. (Greek myth fans: This was an Easter egg about/shout-out to Odysseus, who told the Cyclops Polyphemus that his name was Nobody.) Nemo dedicated the rest of his life to terrorizing the colonial European powers on the high seas, sinking and plundering their ships and making them fear the unstoppable “sea monster” that was the Nautilus.
Who wouldn’t want to have that kind of power? As a kid, every time I jumped in a lake or even a swimming pool, I liked to pretend I was Captain Nemo. I could sink enemy ships with impunity, go all over the world undetected, explore depths no one had ever visited, and uncover fabulous ruins and priceless treasures. I could submerge into my own secret realm and never return to the surface world (which was kind of horrible anyway). When I eventually wrote about Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon, you can bet that my old daydreams about Captain Nemo and the Nautilus were a big reason I chose to make Percy a demigod of the sea.
Now I’ll be honest, I found Verne’s novels slow going when I was a kid. But I did enjoy my uncles’ old Classics Illustrated editions, and I loved watching the Disney film version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea—even the cheesy bits like Kirk Douglas dancing and singing, and the giant rubber squid attacking the ship. Only when I was older did I realize how rich and complex the original stories were. Nemo was even more interesting than I had imagined. And I began to see little openings in the narrative where Verne had left room for a possible sequel . . .
Why does Captain Nemo still matter?
Verne was one of the first writers of science fiction. Looking back from the twenty-first century, it can be difficult for us to appreciate just how revolutionary his ideas were, but Verne imagined technology that would not exist for hundreds of years to come. A self-powered submarine that could circle the globe continuously and never have to dock for supplies? Impossible! In 1870, submarines were still new-fangled inventions—dangerous tin cans that were more likely to blow up and kill everyone on board than to complete a trip around the world. Verne also wrote Around the World in Eighty Days, at a time when making the trip that quickly was unthinkable, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, a feat that is still far beyond human technology, though someday, who knows?
The best science fiction can shape the way humans see their own future. Jules Verne did that better than anyone. Way back in the 1800s, he suggested what could be possible, and humans rose to the challenge. When people talk about how fast a plane or a ship can circle the world, they still use Around the World in Eighty Days as a benchmark. At one time, eighty days was an incredibly short trip for circumnavigating the globe. Now, we can do it in less than eighty hours by plane, and less than forty days by sea.
Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth inspired generations of spelunkers to explore the earth’s cave systems and spurred geo-engineers to figure out how the layers of the earth function.
Captain Nemo, on the other hand, raised awareness of the importance the oceans would have for the future of the planet. We know most of the Earth is covered with water. Eighty percent of the oceans are still unexplored. Figuring out how to tap the power of the sea, and to live with the power of the sea as our climate changes, may be key to human survival. Verne envisioned all of that in his books.
Nemo and his crew are able to live self-sufficiently without ever touching dry land. The sea provides all their needs. In 20,000 Leagues, Nemo tells Aronnax that the Nautilus is entirely electric, and draws all its power from the ocean. In Mysterious Island, Cyrus Harding speculates that when coal runs out, humans will learn to draw energy from the abundant hydrogen of the ocean. That is still a goal people are trying to figure out today, and one of the reasons I decided that Nemo must have unlocked the secret of cold fusion.
In 20,000 Leagues, Nemo’s crew uses electrical Leyden guns that are more effective and elegant than standard arms. They have almost limitless wealth thanks to the many shipwrecks they’ve plundered. They’ve discovered the secrets of subaquatic agriculture, so food is never an issue. Most importantly, they have freedom. They are independent of any nation’s laws and can come and go as they please. They answer to no one except Nemo. Whether that is good or bad . . . I guess that depends on what you think of Nemo!
The importance of the sea, the importance of imagining new technological advances—these are great reasons to still read Jules Verne. But there’s one more critical thing to consider. Verne made Captain Nemo an Indian prince whose people suffered under European colonialism. His character explores themes that are just as critical now as they were in Victorian times. How do you find a voice and power when society denies you those privileges? How do you fight injustice? Who gets to write the history books and decide who were the “good guys” and the “bad guys”? Nemo is an outlaw, a rebel, a genius, a scientist, an explorer, a pirate, a gentleman, an “archangel of vengeance.” He’s a complicated guy, which makes him a lot of fun to read about. I was fascinated by the idea of fast-forwarding his legacy into the twenty-first century and looking at what his descendants would be dealing with all these years later.
What would you do if you had the power of the Nautilus at your command? I hope Daughter of the Deep will inspire you to think about your own adventures, the way Jules Verne inspired me. Make ready to dive. We’re going deep!
If that’s not enough to get you to read (or re-read) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, then I don’t know what is. It sounds like Daughter of the Deep is both an homage to the original story and a modern interpretation of the lessons Jules Verne was trying to convey in his groundbreaking novel.
Without a doubt, I can’t wait to pick up Daughter of the Deep when it hits store shelves in October.
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