Hello friends! Welcome back to Favorites February! This week I’m looking at book #4 in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Battle of the Labyrinth. I had a great time re-reading this one, although the books are getting a little longer, and finishing this one in a week was a bit more work! However, there was a LOT more that I’d forgotten in this book than the others. It was good for a re-read.
Camp Half-Blood is in trouble. Again. The evil Titan lord, Kronos, and his army have found a way into camp using the ancient Labyrinth, if only they can find a way to navigate it. Percy, Annabeth, Tyson, and Grover head into the deadly maze in hopes of finding its creator, Daedalus, and convincing him to help them before their enemies do. But on the way there will be monsters, traps, indecision, and the danger of getting lost. Assuming they don’t lose their minds first…
Why I Love This Book
- While the books are starting to get heavier, this one still maintains a good, healthy comedic relief. Riordan never fails to make me literally laugh out loud.
- Annabeth and Percy! I will ship them forever.
- I said last time that Blackjack is the best animal sidekick. Mrs. O’Leary the Hellhound is also pretty awesome.
- I love the teamwork themes. Working with people you maybe don’t LIKE in order to accomplish something. GREAT message for kids!
- Serious nature-preservation themes are on-point too.
- Briares. He is Tyson’s hero, and he disappoints him. But by believing in him and then standing up to him, Tyson helps him become his old self again. Turns my heart to mush!
“Master Cyclops, do not despair. Heroes rarely live up to our expectations. But you, Tyson – your name shall live among the Cyclopes for generations.”
Hero Profile: Daedalus
Physical Description: Okay, this is hard to do without giving the book away. Skipping it.
Personality: Inventor, loves his son, but becomes jaded and angry after his son dies, proud (definitely a fatal flaw…), afraid.
Comparison to Original Myth:
Yeah, it seems like Riordan stuck pretty closely with the ancient myths, or at least as well as could be expected considering they contradict each other. Percy’s dreams, which flash back to Daedalus’s life, seem to adhere VERY strictly to the ancient stories, especially the stories of Icarus and Perdix. Even tiny details like the sparrow shaped tattoo come from ancient literature.
The biggest point of contention with Daedalus would be the Labyrinth itself. It seems that in its original form it was simply a difficult maze to keep the Minotaur in. It was later that writers like Ovid started to expand it and make it as complicated as it became. However, that it was a living, breathing, expanding thing attached to Daedalus’s life force is obviously Riordan’s brain child. That being said, it does seem like a reasonable extension considering how even among the ancient storytellers the Labyrinth changed and grew more complicated as they let their imaginations run away with it.
As far as modern-day Daedalus, clearly there is nothing in the ancient texts to support it. Again, I don’t want to give the book away, so I won’t be more specific. But that Daedalus would still be alive, especially in the form he was, is clearly Riordan’s imagination. Not complaining, it was SO interesting!
Warning, spoilery content ahead! As always, please feel free to join in the discussion in the comments. What do YOU think????
1. Why do you think Annabeth is so worried about the prophecy? Why is she leading this quest into the Labyrinth? Would you be willing to go? Why or why not?
I think that Annabeth still thinks there’s some good left in Luke, and that she can somehow save him from himself. Think Darth Vader in Star Wars. She’s worried that the prophecy says that Luke is past saving, but also that maybe he might die (or worse), and she isn’t sure which would be more awful. She still loves Luke, even if she doesn’t understand why. And we know her fatal-flaw is pride. I think she thinks that if SHE leads the quest, she can change the prophecy and save him.
2. How does the setting of this adventure differ from the other Percy Jackson books? Why is setting such an important element to the story? Why do you think Riordan plays with the location of Olympus and other ancient locales? Which setting is your favorite from the Percy Jackson series? Why?
The Labyrinth is a unique setting because it’s always moving and changing. It allows the half-bloods to cover amazing distances and journey all over the US much faster than they have in previous books. But it also has this element of mystery. They don’t know where they’re going, and they don’t know how to figure it out. This gives the book a feeling of being lost and hopeless that the other books just don’t have, which is appropriate considering the impending rise of Kronos.
I also have always found it strange how many breaks the heroes take from their quest in this book. Unlike the previous three, it isn’t there and back again. They wind up back at Camp Half-Blood and completely start over at one point. Percy winds up on Calypso’s island for a full two weeks. They kind of go back and forth and back and forth across the continental US. I don’t know, it always made this one seem more disjunct to me than the others in this series.
3. Why do you think the myth of Icarus and Daedalus is included in the novel? How does it show us what Daedalus is capable of? In the end, does Daedalus change the most or does Percy?
I’ve always been a little fascinated by Icarus, so I remember being so excited the first time I saw his name in this book. And then a little bummed to realize what a small role he would play. I think the story is included for two reasons. First, to set up how Daedalus became so jaded and cruel. He lost a lot. But second, to set up how dangerous it can be to play with technology. All tech has its limits, and you HAVE to know what those are before you start using it.
It’s a great message for kids these days. Percy KNOWS that Icarus died putting too much pressure on his wings, but that doesn’t stop him from getting carried away in the joy of flying the way Icarus did. Even with new and improved wings, they can’t carry him forever. If Percy’s friends hadn’t been there to warn him, Percy would certainly have died the way Icarus did. How poignant this is! Whether we’re talking about screen time, the dangers of social media, or even a stupid exploding hoverboard, kids KNOW the danger of technology and often choose to ignore those dangers. Icarus is a cautionary tale.