Continuing the Percy Jackson series, The Battle of The Labyrinth feels a lot more action packed than the previous novels. There’s also a surprising amount of character development, however not all of it is for the best unfortunately. I will say however if you do read the book to ignore the reviews on the back as there’s a small spoiler. It’s not enough to ruin the story however I found it incredibly annoying as it was in the back of my mind throughout the novel.
As to be expected Percy Jackson is the center focus of the story however another character is also given significant attention. Annabeth Chase is given a lot of focus as she goes through a lot of character development, almost as much as Percy does in this book. However this isn’t a good thing. While Percy’s relationships become more complex and interesting, Annabeth was made far simpler as a result. Her character development seemed to go in reverse, not acting like she would in the previous stories. It’s really disappointing as Annabeth was my favorite character in the series and now I’m not so sure to be honest.
The other characters go through a bit of development but nowhere near the levels of Percy and Annabeth. One of the characters, while not given the same level of detail as Percy (or the reduction of Annabeth), was actually rather fantastic. I don’t want to spoil who this character was, but I didn’t expect to like them as much as I did. At the very end of the novel I found myself rooting for this character.
An action packed story that is fun to read and exciting to see everything converge. While some things are quite annoyingly predictable, there were a lot of surprises that took me by surprise in a good way. There were moments where I actually had a small gasp as I was reading.
The story starts out with action and the action never really ever stops. It’s both fun and enticing but at times gets a bit tiring. There’s almost too much action as some things feel like they just happen to break things up with battles. There are moments where the story slows down and characters are talking to each other and these moments were my favorite within the novel. When Riordan slows down to deliver exposition, it’s done in a way that adds to the story without ever feeling like a whole bunch of information is being dumped on the reader because it has to. It’s slowly weaved with the characters to come out naturally.
One thing that has to be noted is that Riordan has a tendency to have Percy dream about the plot a lot to drive the narrative. Now with his focus on staying true to Greek Mythology, prophetic dreams often do occur to predict or guide heroes on their journeys. However, from a writing perspective, it’s hard not to see this as rather jarring as it almost seems too convenient that Percy is getting dreams that are showing him what he needs to know or information that is useful for him. Honestly I don’t know how to feel about this as it is part of Greek mythology but for storytelling feels wrong.
Genuinely surprised how awesome this book was for Greek mythology. There were so many nods to old stories, old monsters, heroes, victims, everything a lover of Greek mythology (such as myself) would love. Riordan even resolved one of the issues I had in the previous novels and made it perfect. I actually exclaimed “Aw Yes!”as I read it.
As the title and the cover art suggests, much of the story takes place in the famous Labyrinth of Greek mythology. Just as in the Greek tales, there’s a lot of strange occurrences that happen in the Labyrinth. It could have gotten a lot weirder I think, but Riordan decided to keep it reasonable. His creativity with how the Labyrinth functioned was great as, like previous novels, weaved mythology in a way that was fun to read and furthers the story without being ridiculous as sometimes mythology can be. .
As to be expected, the book is easy to read and enjoyable as well. I actually started reading this book and finished it on the same day I read it. I couldn’t really stop as I found it fun and interesting from chapter to chapter. A vast improvement from previous novels is that Riordan no longer spoiled each chapter with the titles that gave away too much. The chapters still have strange and often silly titles but they serve more as a slight curiosity than a frustrating spoiler.
What Writer’s Can Learn from the Book
As much as I enjoyed this story and love Riordan’s series, there’s something that comes off as a what-not-to-do in story writing. A character should never be made simpler and/or act contrary to who they are to further a plotline. There is an argument that emotions make people do foolish things, but there are some things that will always stay true to who a person is. To see Annabeth act inconsistently with who she is makes for a rather unsatisfying story arc for her. While Percy was given a bit more complexity, to do so while reducing another character’s development to do so is not good.