The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze

The burning maze
Author: Rick Riordan
Book Review by: Anshuman Nagpal
Grade: 8

The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze

Promise me one thing. Whatever happens, when you get back to Olympus, when you’re a god again, remember. Remember what it’s like to be human.”– Jason Grace.

The Burning Maze

The aforesaid quote is a gorgeous extract from The Burning Maze, which is the third instalment of the Trials of Apollo series. Beautifully written by award winning author Rick Riordan who is also known for scribing the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series, this story is nothing short of spectacular.

Although, in my opinion, not as great as some of the other books in the series, this book indeed packs a punch. In a flurry of daring tactical manoeuvres, painful sacrifices, and incidents that highlight the value of friendship and trust, as well as a sprinkle of humour and romance along the way, the book is perfect for all kinds of readers.

Like all the other books in the series, the story is centred around the Greek God Apollo, who is being punished by his father Zeus and has been banished in a rather flabby human form, with the task of rescuing five oracles from three evil Roman emperors who call themselves the Triumvirate. In The Burning Maze, he is searching for the third oracle, named the Erythraean Sibyl, with the help of his stubborn and steadfast master Meg, daughter of Demeter. This time, amongst other things, Apollo and Meg must deal with a section of the infamous labyrinth that’s filled with fire controlled by an infuriated Titan, an evil talking horse, monsters with giant ears and heart-wrenching deaths, among other things. Along with this, they collaborate with old friends such as Grover the satyr as well as key characters from the Heroes of Olympus series like Jason Grace, Piper McLean and Coach Hedge.

The Burning Maze, following the style of its prequels, contains an overload of Greek and Roman mythology, with new monsters and gods being introduced to the characters as the story progresses. Although the road to success (which is rescuing the Erythraean Sibyl) is long and circuitous, it is thrilling to see how the battles play out between the protagonists and their evil counterparts.

The humour also makes perpetual appearances in the story and stands out from the suspense in each chapter and the gravity of the adventure. This pairs with Apollo’s signature obsession for haikus, with one appearing at the start of every chapter. For example, this is just one of his obscure and unorthodox haikus:

You want prophecy?
I’ll drop some nonsense on you.
Eat my gibberish!

The Burning Maze

The development of Apollo’s character in terms of how he transforms his attitude from that of a selfish god to a more understanding and selfless person is remarkable. It can be seen throughout the entire series in how he acts and speaks with his partners. Take, for instance, one of his conversations with Piper McLean, which highlights the diversity of Apollo as a character in the story:

“It’s been my observation,” I said, “that you humans are more than the sum of your history. You can choose how much of your ancestry to embrace. You can overcome the expectations of your family and your society. What you cannot do, and should never do, is try to be someone other than yourself–Piper McLean.”

However, even though The Burning Maze is brilliant in its own way, there are some things about it that have caused a lot of displeasure among readers. For example, this book can be extremely confusing for readers unfamiliar with the previous books in the series and the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series, which use the mythology that Riordan draws from. There are many references and characters that may not make sense to newcomers as well.
Another disturbing thing about this book is that it can be very dark and sad. It is in fact, the darkest book among its prequels as it contains a terrible amount of death, especially of characters who play pivotal roles in the story and plotline.

Nevertheless, The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze is a thrilling and touching book that will appeal to fans of fantasy, mythology, and adventure. It is a book that will make you laugh, cry, and cheer for Apollo and his friends as they face their greatest challenge. And if you want to find out how Apollo and Co. save the world yet again, rescue the Erythraean Sibyl in time, and the real cost of their adventure, I recommend you read the book and indulge in all that it has to offer right away! Let the magic begin!

About the author:

Rick Riordan

More reviews of books by Risk Riordan:

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

The Titan’s Curse

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