“Getting something and having the wits to use it…those are two different things.”
Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for the first four books in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. If you haven’t read through The Battle of the Labyrinth, I strongly suggest doing so! Then come back, and we can discuss it.
So in my review of The Titan’s Curse, I mentioned that the third book felt like a turning point in this series. The stakes have been getting higher, the characters further developed. Even with Riordan’s ever present humor, the story has grown increasingly darker. I’m happy to report that The Battle of the Labyrinth stays true to this. It’s the darkest of the Percy Jackson books so far. It’s also my favorite in the series (but probably not for long).
The book begins in typical Riordan fashion, with a hilarious opener that grips you immediately: “The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school. But there I was, Monday morning, the first week of June, sitting in my mom’s car in front of Goode High School on East 81st.” I love that Percy’s voice remains fresh and sardonic after all this time. After casually blowing up the school and fighting the cheerleading squad, Percy returns to Camp Half Blood to discover that Luke has been using the legendary labyrinth of Daedalus’ to further his plans to raise Kronos. In order to stop him, Annabeth is given a quest to find Daedalus’ workshop. She chooses Percy, Grover, and Tyson to accompany her on this journey.
The concept of the labyrinth is honestly fantastic, and it makes the entire plot of this book so enjoyable. I mean, a maze that messes with your mind and rips apart the notions of space and time? Count me in. Riordan’s choice to have entrances and exits from the labyrinth lead to various parts of the United States is also a clever one – and it keeps in line with the repeated meshing of modern life with classic mythology.
Percy’s development has impressed me throughout the series, but this book took things to a new level. We finally see how powerful he is when he reveals a major display of power during the fight at Mount St. Helens. While we’ve gotten glimpses of his abilities before, his magic is much more present in this book. It’s clear that his half-blood training is making an impact. The choice that he makes on Calypso’s island is also heartbreaking. In every story, the hero has the opportunity to step back and let someone else handle it. This was Percy’s chance, and that he chooses returning to fight Kronos over a normal, peaceful life makes his character that much more admirable.
Percy’s dreams also feel much more relevant in The Battle of the Labyrinth than they did previously. The dreams of Daedalus watching his son die and killing his nephew are disturbing, and the warnings of Nico’s attempts to bring back the dead make for an interesting subplot. Also, Nico is growing on me as a character. A lot.
Rachel’s character, on the other hand, is not my favorite. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with her, but her importance in the story just feels so out of left field to me. I don’t know if Riordan is planning on giving her a bigger role in The Last Olympian, or if her seeing through the mist was just convenient to navigating the maze. But her presence in so much of the story rubbed me the wrong way. She just doesn’t feel necessary.
The ending, true to form, raises the stakes once again. Kronos using Luke’s body to rise from the dead was quite a surprise, and that entire scene is eerie in the best possible way. Add Percy’s ominous visit from Poseidon at the end, and the cliffhanger of Nico’s plan to stop Kronos, and it’s safe to say I’m hyped for The Last Olympian.
I gave The Battle of the Labyrinth 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I’m getting Percy Jackson fever, and I have no regrets whatsoever. 100% recommend this series!