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The Trials of Apollo Book Three: The Burning Maze

Review

The Trials of Apollo Book Three: The Burning Maze

Apollo --- the forlorn god of the sun, archery, music, poetry and host of other helpful areas --- continues his punishment in THE BURNING MAZE, the third installment in Rick Riordan’s hilarious Trials of Apollo series. Trapped in the body of plump, acne-ridden mortal teen Lester Papadopoulos, Apollo has been cast down to Earth and forced into the care of 12-year-old Meg McCaffery, a stoic, plant-savvy daughter of Demeter. After already facing a host of harrowing adventures, Apollo, Meg and crew must now face one of their most dangerous and cunning opponents yet, all while navigating through a flaming labyrinth. With the help of old friends Grover, Piper, Leo and Jason, Apollo and Meg must pass through the burning maze and discover the truth behind the prophecy that set their daunting quest in motion. Plus, haikus!

"Riordan has put together an outstanding ensemble of characters from all different walks of life. It is incredible how Riordan champions diversity through unique, unforgettable characters of different races, sexualities and gender identities...."

Riordan had previously started Apollo on a fascinating, touching and often hysterical trajectory in the previous two novels, and THE BURNING MAZE does even more to solidify Apollo as one of the best characters in the author’s expansive pantheon. I have read just about every Riordan book, every Trials of Apollo story quickly lands itself among my favorites --- and THE BURNING MAZE is no exception. Apollo, a bisexual icon who frequently recounts his many romances with various historical and mythical figures, constantly makes me laugh out loud during even the most nail-biting scenes. Plus, when Apollo, who is slowly being drained of his godly talents, is combined with the brilliant and motley cast of characters both familiar and new, hilarious and unpredictable antics ensue.

As always, Riordan has put together an outstanding ensemble of characters from all different walks of life. It is incredible how Riordan champions diversity through unique, unforgettable characters of different races, sexualities and gender identities in stories that consistently land at the top of the bestseller lists, often for weeks at a time. Normalizing and giving memorable stories to characters in same-sex relationships or other non-traditional families is a much needed step in the right direction, and these never feel forced or out of place.

Riordan is not afraid to explore themes that maybe be difficult to talk about by approaching them from a place of understanding and empathy. Meg, who has been emotionally abused and manipulated by her step-father, must continually be put face-to-face with her abuser while grappling with difficult memories of her biological father. Through Meg and the touching ways in which her friends support her through this process, Riordan is able to show young readers who may be experiencing similar situations that it is okay to reach out for support. 

THE BURNING MAZE had me eagerly turning page after to page, eager to see how these characters I have come to love over the course of this series will make it through their next adventure. Watching Apollo gradually transform from haughty god to a hilarious, sympathetic character has been so exciting, and I cannot wait to see where this series goes next. If you weren’t already on board, Riordan composed over 40 haiku for this novel, each kicking off a chapter, and each more impressive than the next. THE BURNING MAZE is yet another amazing offering from Riordan that cannot be missed!

Reviewed by Katherine Szabo on May 29, 2018

The Trials of Apollo Book Three: The Burning Maze
(The Trials of Apollo #3)
by Rick Riordan