Title: The Battle of the Labyrinth, Percy Jackson and The Olympians #4
Author: Rick Riordan
Publication Date: May 6, 2008
Format: Paperback, 359 pages
Genre: Juvenile/ Middle Grades Fiction, Fantasy
Summary from back of book and website:
Percy Jackson isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse. In this latest installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos' army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth - a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.Along the way Percy will confront powerful enemies, find out the truth about the lost god Pan, and face the Titan lord Kronos’s most terrible secret. The final war begins . . . with the Battle of the Labyrinth.
Percy's mom has been dating a very nice man named Paul Blophis (not blowfish) who teaches at the Goode School. He's finagled Percy's enrollment into the school, despite some apprehension from Percy and his mother. They haven't told Paul about Percy being a demigod and therefore attracting monsters. While Percy might not know how he feels about Paul, he understands that Paul is a good guy and makes his mother happy. Percy doesn't want to mess this relationship up, so he's understandably wary when he must attend orientation.
At orientation he runs into Rachel Elizabeth Dare, the mortal girl who saved him at the Hoover Dam. She recognizes Percy and pulls him away from orientation, demanding explanations for what she saw at the dam. He realizes that Rachel is like his mother, one of the rare mortals who can see through the Mist that disguises the gods and monsters. They are then attacked by killer cheerleaders (empousas) who, of course, set fire to the school, but not before saying something about enslaving the campers. Percy and Rachel get away, but run into Annabeth who was coming to meet Percy for the movies ("it's not a date!"). Of course Annabeth isn't instantly suspicious/jealous/angry/rudely sarcastic, Rachel snipes back, and poor Percy is such a boy - he's totally lost as to why they girls are mad at each other and him.
Percy wants to tell Chiron what the empousa said, so he and Annabeth make their way to Camp Half-Blood. It's soon clear that problems seem to be heaping up on the campers. The new sword master, Quintas, is a bit suspicious; demigods are joining Kronos' army or being killed; Percy is receiving mysterious Iris messages and having prophetic dreams; minor gods are joining Kronos; old sea gods are stirring; and Grover is in trouble with the Cloven Council. (On the bright side, Tyson is back.) It seems that Luke is looking for Daedalus' Labyrinth. It seems that if he had Ariadne's string, he'd be able to navigate the Labyrinth to any place in the world, including the middle of Camp Half-Blood. It's decided that Something Must Be Done and Annabeth is sent to get a prophecy from the Oracle.
When she returns, Annabeth doesn't share the entire prophecy, but chooses Percy, Tyson, and Grover to accompany her. Together they descend into the Labyrinth in order to beat Luke to Ariadne's string. Oh, did I mention that the Labyrinth pretty much guarantees death or insanity?
So much is happening in this book, but it doesn't get too confusing. Percy is supportive of Annabeth as she leads her first quest, but worries for his brother and best friend. Readers are introduced to more minor gods, monsters, and characters from Greek myths. Characters evolve and grow realistically.
The Battle of the Labyrinth sets up the final book quite nicely: things are bad, dangerous, and friends are being lost. This is a darker book than the previous 3: more death (including campers), some murders, more understandable anger from unclaimed demigods, and Luke gets darker too. That being said, the fight sequences are great, the banter funny, and the story moves along nicely.
Still not as good as The Lighting Thief, but I liked the character development, and it was a good addition to the series. The kids are growing and maturing in a difficult world, but it moves along realistically. This is definitely one parents might want to read before their younger kids get ahold of it - just to gauge the darker aspects of the story and how your child will handle it. I'm going to give it 4 out of 6 stars.
Nayu's Reading Corner review
Other online resources:
Rick Riordan's website (includes a recommended reading list for kids)
Rick Riordan's blog
Percy Jackson and The Olympians US website
Percy Jackson and The Olympians UK website
International giveaway for the complete set of Percy Jackson and The Olympians
US giveaway for a pre-order copy of The Lost Hero, The Heroes of Olympus book #1