Book 4 in the series! In real life I binged on these books, reading them one after the after in a matter of days, but I've been trying to spread out my reviews so as not to overwhelm you with all the Percy Jackson! If book three, The Titan's Curse, was the first one in which more mature themes are included, book four continues that. Percy and his friends must go into the mythical labyrinth from the Minotaur story in order to prevent it from being used against Camp Half-Blood by Luke and Kronos. As things gear up towards the epic showdown coming in the final volume, Percy must make a tough decision; whether to stay and fight, or to take the easy way out.
As always with this series, spoilers ahead!
The Battle of the Labyrinth is my favourite volume in the entire series. Part of the reason why is that I just love the concept of the Labyrinth itself, an ever growing and changing thing that is susceptible to dark influences as well as light. It's a dangerous place, full of endless twists and turns, mythical creatures and seems to almost have a dark force in itself. I liked that the clue to solving the labyrinth came from a mortal, something that of course would have been overlooked by Luke and Kronos.
Speaking of Kronos, in Battle of the Labryinth we really get to see why creatures, gods and half-bloods are turning against Mount Olympus. Greek mythology is stuffed full of minor players, who have been ignored or neglected by the major gods. Being made to feel important is extremely seductive, and it's good that we get something from Riordan beyond 'they picked the bad side because they were evil'.
But what I love most about this book is the scene where Percy ends up on Calypso's island. At this point in the story, his life is basically a battle with more to come, as well as the prophecy he is dreading. Calypso's island and life is idyllic and she offers him the opportunity to stay there and pretty much avoid all of that bad stuff going on in his real life. It can be very hard to turn away from something that makes you happy in order to do something right, especially if the 'right' path isn't the easy one. I loved that Percy had to make this choice, and I think that it's a great message for younger readers of the novels.
As with all the books of the series, Battle of the Labyrinth is fast-paced and full of action. Percy's voice is still witty and a joy to read. I think I enjoyed this book the most out of the series as it's 'grown up' but not completely taken up by war, as the final one is. This means there's more time for fun and character development, as well as plot. The only thing I'm not too keen on is the introduction of Rachel Elizabeth Dare, the regular human who helps Percy through the Labyrinth. She's also there to add tension to the Percy and Annabeth 'relationship', which I get, but she's just a bit too perfect for my liking. Annabeth feels a lot more real.
But that's a minor complain, I just love this book!
Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2008
My Edition: Disney Hyperion, 2009
Score: 5 out of 5
My reviews of the other volumes in the series: