Genre: Middle Grade/Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology (Greek & Roman)
Series: The Trials of Apollo #3
Release Date: May 1, 2018
I’m going to start with the dedication. I like Rick’s dedications; like the evil one in House of Hades or the sweet one in Son of Neptune. This time, it’s more of a fun little warning about what’s to come.
To Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy, I hope you’re pleased with yourself.
And having read the book, I find it to be spot-on. I don’t think any of his books so far have hurt quite this much. So keep some tissues handy because Uncle Rick did not pull any punches.
And on that happy note, let’s get to the review. At the end of The Dark Prophecy, Apollo got a very long prophecy (a sonnet) telling him about his next quest, one that would involved the labyrinth. Initially, I thought that’s what the title of the book meant. But the burning maze is different. It’s a part of the labyrinth that’s been… infected, you could say. It’s controlled by the third and last emperor and the third Oracle is in the middle.
We always knew that the third emperor was the worst of them, the most dangerous. Even in this book, Apollo’s afraid the moment he starts to suspect about the emperor’s identity. And boy does the emperor live up to the hype. The guy is evil with a capital everything. He’s also smart, swift and very resourceful, with a bunch of evil and powerful allies and minions. It’s not hard to understand why Apollo’s afraid.
Speaking of Apollo… He’s still brilliant. I’ve loved his perspective from the first book and even as things get more and more grave, we can always rely on him to cheer us up. But more than, I’m so proud of how far he’s come. You can tell just from his narrative that he’s a very different guy from the one he was at the beginning of the series. He’s more compassionate and considerate. He’s learning about the hardships of life as a hero. He hasn’t become this utterly selfless person (which is neither all that bad nor surprising since he’s still a four thousand year old former god) but he no longer expects others to simply do stuff for him. He cares about others and is willing to risk his own safety and comfort for them. That’s a pretty big thing, if you ask me.
Also, I love Meg now. She’s not the easiest person to understand but the more time we spend with her, the better we get to know her. She was scarred heavily by Nero and she’s not someone who’s eager to talk about her feeling. But I find her tendency to shrug off big news, or simply give a one-word response, quite charming. She’s a girl of a few words but she’s good for Apollo.
Last few characters I wanna mention are Jason, Piper and Grover. I liked meeting up with the former two again but honestly, Grover stole the show. He’s another character who’s come very far from his first appearance in The Lightning Thief. Grover’s always had a very pure heart and a desire to help. Now, he’s more capable, more sure of himself and braver than ever. He’s become a leader, something I wouldn’t have expected of him. He and nature are a very crucial part of the novel
Overall, I loved this book, even if it did hurt a lot. This is the most series book in this series so far and, hopefully, the most tragic because I don’t think I can take any more. Still, I can’t wait to see what more Rick has in store for Apollo.