Book: The Burning Maze (The Trials of Apollo 3) by Rick Riordan
Release Date: May 1st 2018
Tags: Fantasy / Mythology / Greek Mythology / Greek Gods / LGBTQ+ / Bisexual / Trigger Warning / Mentioned Abuse / Grief / Death
Other books in this series I reviewed
The Hidden Oracle / The Dark Prophecy
Other books by this author I reviewed
Greek Gods and Greek Heroes // The Heroes of Olympus // The Sword of Summer / The Hammer of Thor / The Ship of the Dead
Possible spoilers for the previous books in the series
The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.
With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor—and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles—somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon. . . .
I don’t even know what I feel right now.
And if that isn’t an ominous way to start a review I don’t know what is. I was a little disappointed with the second book in this series though I still rated it 3,5 stars. This book however was certainly once again a step up.
Where I felt with the previous installment the story dragged a little in places and I missed the humor, I laughed out loud again with this one. It felt a little less like the Apollo shit show, though he still bears the brunt of most jokes. The pacing was a lot quicker and things kept happening. It didn’t feel quite as much as a bridge from one side to another as I had with the previous one. It stands on its own.
I won’t go too much into detail about the plot of this book because there is a lot I could potentially give away that I think you should experience for yourself, especially if you loved previous series and characters. As the series focuses on the retrieving the five oracles, this is of course the case for this book as well. They have zoned in on an area where an oracle should be and this is where The Burning Maze takes place. But there are other things happening around them that truly enriches the story.
One of those things is for sure the character development that the characters in these books go through. Apollo as the main character goes through the biggest changes. From being a god to a pimply teenager, it is quite the adjustment. But he is starting to shed more and more of his selfish god nature and is starting to reflect on things he has done in the past. How they affect other people. Don’t think he becomes an apologetic person. That is not who he is, but he is learning to own up for his mistakes. Sort of.
But even more so I was struck with Meg’s vulnerability in this book. She tends to rub me the wrong way sometimes with how forward she is. But as Apollo rightly points out, she is still so young but has already gone through so much like emotional abuse and the loss of a parent. She is closed off and hard to give away her trust and I can’t really blame her. That comes forward a bit more here, that helps to understand her better. I now have lots of protective feelings to our Meg.
The character development doesn’t stop there though. There are characters we have met in previous series who have clearly changed and developed since the last time we met them. I appreciated the way that was done. Not every romance or every relationship that ends on a good note at the end of a series can be expected to last even if we sometimes want them too.
Lastly, do prepare to have your heart ripped out a little in this installment. I know some people find this series a little darker and that certainly does not go away here. Nobody is safe.