Only a few more days until you can finally hold The Sun and the Star in your hands! Until then, check out this exclusive chapter excerpt.
Catch up with Nico and Will—along with as Austin Lake and Kayla Knowles—as Camp Half-Blood’s latest summer session officially comes to a close . . . and right before everything changes for these young demigods. Learn more about Nico’s current headspace and the mysterious voice calling out to him from below.
But not before we get his answer to a very important Star Wars question.
Nico faced the worst decision of his life, and he was certain he was going to mess it up.
“I can’t do this,” he said to Will Solace, the stunningly beautiful son of Apollo, who stood across from him. But it was Austin Lake—one of Will’s half-siblings—Nico chose to focus on. He was pacing behind Will, which only made Nico more nervous.
“Stop moving, Austin,” said Nico. “I can’t concentrate.”
“Sorry, dude,” said Austin. “This is just so stressful.”
“You gotta choose,” Will said to Nico. “Those are the rules.”
Nico frowned. “I’m the son of Hades. I don’t live by most rules.”
“But you did agree to these,” said Kayla Knowles, another child of Apollo. She twirled a cherry lollipop in her mouth. “Are you a demigod without honor, Nico di Angelo?”
Austin kept pacing. “To be fair, I don’t think this task requires any actual honor.”
“Quiet!” said Nico, running his hands through his hair. What if he made the wrong choice? Would Will be disappointed in him?
But studying Will’s face, Nico saw only anticipation. The good kind. Will was ready for whatever Nico would say, and no matter how this ended, Will would still think just as highly of him.
What did I ever do to deserve him? Nico wondered. He asked himself that question a lot.
“Okay, I’ve made my decision,” said Nico.
“I might explode,” said Austin.
“The world might end,” said Kayla, now holding the lollipop at her side, her eyes bright with anxiety. “Like, actually end this time.”
“So,” said Nico, “if I had to choose . . .”
“Yes?” prompted Will. “You would choose . . . ?”
Nico took a deep breath.
Will and Kayla groaned, but Austin looked like Nico had just given him a Ferrari as a birthday present.
“Dude!” Austin screamed. “That is the best answer!”
“It is the worst answer!” said Kayla. “Why would you choose Vader when Kylo Ren is right there?”
“I was hoping for a deep cut,” Will mused. “Maybe someone like General Grievous or Dryden Vos.”
“Hold on,” said Nico. “I just finished watching all those movies yesterday. I can barely remember what happened in the prequels at this point.” He paused. “Were those all actual characters in Star Wars, or are you joking?”
“Don’t distract from your truth, Nico,” said Kayla. “Darth Vader? You’d go on a date with Darth Vader?” She crunched on her lollipop. “I’ve lost all joy, Nico. All of it.”
“Welcome to my world,” Nico joked. He caught Will grimacing—a brief flicker of one, but he still caught it.
“This is a safe space,” said Austin. “No judgment allowed for our answers, remember?”
“I take it back,” said Kayla. “It’s an all-judgment space.”
“You’re very quiet, Will,” said Nico. “Especially as the number one Star Wars fan in the group.”
“I’m considering all the reasons why you’d give that answer,” he said. “You might be onto something.”
“He’s powerful,” said Nico.
“And decisive,” added Will. “He’d always know exactly where to go for your date. No arguing about that.”
“Does he take off his helmet to eat?” said Kayla.
Nico laid his hand over his heart. “Imagine Darth Vader removing his helmet over dinner and then staring longingly into your eyes over the table. Now that is romance.”
Will laughed hard, then flashed that brilliant smile of his.
Why, oh why, did it feel like such a victory to make Will laugh? For a long time, Nico had assumed he himself did not have a heart. He was the son of Hades, after all. Love didn’t find people like him. But then came . . . Will. Will, who could melt Nico’s iciness with a smile. Anyone could have guessed which god was Will’s father—he radiated energy and light. Sometimes literally, as they had learned in the troglodytes’ caverns earlier that year. Will was Apollo’s son, through and through.
Maybe that whole saying about opposites attracting was true, because Nico didn’t know a single person who was more his opposite. Despite that, they were coming up on a year. A year together.
Nico had an actual boyfriend.
He still wasn’t sure he believed it was real.
The four demigods continued their walk through Camp Half-Blood. There was no fire burning in the amphitheater. Maybe, since it was starting to cool down on Long Island, Nico and Will would light one tonight. No campers were rushing off to the armory or the forge; no one was visiting the Cave of the Oracle. The cabins were empty (aside from Hades’s and Apollo’s), and that was the clearest sign summer was over.
Nico didn’t want to admit it out loud, but he was going to miss . . . well, pretty much all the campers, even though it was at times exhausting to be one of their counselors. He especially didn’t want to say good-bye to Kayla and Austin.
As they passed through the strawberry fields, Nico sensed Kayla’s and Austin’s tension growing. They’d had to make a difficult decision about their travel arrangements earlier that day, and as the four of them climbed Half-Blood Hill, Kayla and Austin slowed.
“I’m thinking that maybe we should have chosen differently,” said Kayla.
“You sure we’ll be fine, Nico?” asked Austin.
“Yeah,” he said. “I mean . . . no one has ever died or anything.”
“That’s not nearly as comforting as you think it is!” said Kayla.
“You’ll be okay,” said Will, and he put his hand on Austin’s shoulder. “I’ve heard it’s chaotic, maybe a bit nauseating, but you’ll make it home safely.”
They reached the summit of the hill, where the Golden Fleece glittered on the lowest branch of the pine tree. Below, Farm Road 3.141 curved around the base of the hill, defining the outer border of camp. On the gravel shoulder, next to a pile of boxes and duffel bags, stood Chiron, the Camp Half-Blood activities director, his equine lower half gleaming white in the afternoon light.
“There you are!” the centaur called out. “Come along, then.”
None of them hurried. It was obvious to Nico that Kayla and Austin weren’t in a rush to leave camp. Most everyone else had already returned to their “normal” lives, except . . . well, what was normal for someone like Nico?
Constantly facing the threat of defeat and death.
The dead talking to him.
The voice from his dreams bubbled up inside him again now, calling out for help.
Rachel Dare’s words haunted him, too. Only he and Will had heard what the Oracle had prophesied a few weeks ago, and Nico hadn’t shared it with anyone else yet, not even the other counselors. Why should he? It hadn’t warned of any doomsday threats to Camp Half-Blood. The world was—as far as he knew—safe for now from angry gods or rebellious Titans. Resurrected maniacal Roman emperors were no longer a thing to worry about.
The prophecy merely concerned that lone voice in his dreams, begging for help.
Specifically, Nico’s help.
Want to find out what happens? Why are we even asking? Of course you do! If you somehow haven’t already ordered your copy of The Sun and the Star: A Nico di Angelo Adventure, click here.