Rick Riordan has been treating fans worldwide with his mythological series for years now, and today we’re reviewing last year’s The Burning Maze.
This installment in The Trials of Apollo series succeeds 2017’s The Dark Prophecy, picking up where it left off with Apollo heading west to California from his previous scuffles in the Midwest. He’s joined as usual by Meg McCaffrey, but this time the duo is led by Grover Underwood – yes, that Grover from the original Percy Jackson series.
This installment is special because of the lore built throughout. We have Helios as an underlying presence throughout, and because of this we have a story built around the various sun deities and their consequent progression (Helios came before Apollo, and Caligula wants to succeed the god-turned-human through sacrifice). This lore building not only helps flesh out Apollo’s background, but also the personality and goals of Caligula and the overall goals and hierarchy of those within Triumvirate Holdings.
Being the third book in the series – and a middle book in the series once they’re all out – it did feel a little slow at points. For example, the book sets up from the beginning a fight at Camp Jupiter, but after discussing this forthcoming battle throughout, it isn’t set to occur until the next book, in which Apollo is headed to meet Reyna at Camp Jupiter and ultimately aid the camp’s defensive efforts.
These slow points, however, are made up for in the expansion of Piper McLean and Jason Grace’s arcs, however sad this growth might turn out to be (we won’t spoil this one for you – you have to read this emotional arc for yourself). Meg McCaffrey also received more backstory and growth here, which was a very nice surprise. Learning about her birth father and lineage was heartwarming and made her an even more compelling character, especially after witnessing how abusive Nero is to her in the series’ previous entries.
Overall, this is a solid entry into Rick Riordan’s ever expanding catalogue of books. It’s heart-wrenching, explosive, and sweet, and we can’t wait to see where Apollo is headed after his trip to Camp Jupiter in this year’s The Tyrant’s Tomb, which is slated for an October release.
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