The best thing for me to do when stressed is return to a favorite novel, preferably one that’s a quick, fun read that’s sure to make me momentarily forget my troubles. That need led me to reread these two novels a couple days ago. It’s been years since I’d read them, but I still enjoy them.
These two seem an unlikely pair, but they share several similarities. They are both YA novels that target readers on the cusp of adolescence. I usually think of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympian novels as middle-grade reads, but I think The Battle of the Labyrinth is where the books start to lean more heavily toward YA because Percy Jackson is now a 14-year-old but still trying to protect his friends and survive until his supposedly fateful 16th birthday. Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic, the first of her Immortals novels, is YA fantasy and has content that is more mature than what’s presented in The Battle of the Labyrinth, but the protagonist is a 13-year-old girl who has lost her family and is seeking a new home while learning to accept who she is.
I immensely enjoyed reading both books and while reading them, both filled me with nostalgia for when I first encountered them. I first read The Battle of the Labyrinth when I was in college. That’s when I learned of the Percy Jackson series, got hooked, and marathon-read them. I did the same when I discovered Tamora Pierce’s books in middle school. Until I reread Wild Magic, I was convinced that the Song of the Lioness books were my introduction to Tamora Pierce. But now I believe I first encountered Pierce through the Immortals books, with the third book, Emperor Mage, to be exact, before I hopped to the Song of the Lioness series.
But no matter how I discovered them or who their target audience is, I’m glad that I’m able to return to them now and still be entertained by them.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians (book 4)
After the usual mishap at school — this time the one his mother’s boyfriend teaches at and that Rachel Dare happens to attend, — Percy races off to Camp Halfblood with Annabeth. The Camp learns that Luke and his army of baddies are planning to use Daedalus’s labyrinth (that’s the dude who built the labyrinth for the minotaur in Greek myth) to attack the Camp.
Annabeth is assigned the quest to find Daedalus and convince him to help the Camp by preventing Luke and his army of baddies from using the labyrinth. Also, the Council of Cloven Elders is threatening to revoke Grover’s searcher’s license (I forgot why), but without it he won’t be able to continue his search for the god Pan. They give him a week to Pan, so Grover joins Annabeth, Percy, and Tyson on their quest through the labyrinth in search of Daedalus. Of course, crazy adventures ensue. (Goodreads)
The labyrinth was an interesting place to have an adventure and I anticipated much from it because of the halfblood, Chris Rodriguez, who was deeply affected by it. But I was a bit underwhelmed. I guess by the time Annabeth and her team got there it was no longer as dangerous because the spirit of King Minos wasn’t haunting the labyrinth anymore. However, I liked how Rachel Dare was worked into the story. I thought that was a nice touch.
Though I enjoyed the story, I was annoyed that Annabeth didn’t get to lead much. She has been hoping for a quest for a long time, but to me, it’s often Percy who takes the lead. I wasn’t expecting him to be a bystander since he is the protagonist, but I thought too many decisions fell to him when he’s not the leader of the quest. But that’s just me nitpicking.
I’d also forgotten about Nico’s role in this installment. I think I was more sympathetic toward him on this read than I was when I first read the book. I understood the pain he’s feeling for the loss of his sister, and his anger too. It also became painfully obvious that he has no friends or family to turn to since Camp Halfblood is only open to those gods deemed acceptable. I felt so sorry him and liked his development throughout the books even more.
As always, these books are very entertaining and I like the silliness of Riordan’s humor. They made me laugh sometimes, like when Grover’s girlfriend Juniper said Grover once had a crush on a blueberry bush (lol!). Of course, she’s referring to the sprite, but it’s written to be read otherwise, which makes it funny.
And all the creatures! 😀 Every time I read these books I assume that Riordan made up some of the creatures, like Kampé and Geryon, but then I google them only to find out that they are from Greek myth. Kampé especially surprised me because I thought she was too much a mixture of creatures and hard for me to imagine for her to actually be from Greek myth, but no, I was wrong. She’s a real mythological creature. 😉
Overall: ★★★★☆ ½
It’s fun. It’s entertaining. If you’re interested in Greek myths, I recommend it to you.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Unless there’s an adolescent you know who loves to read or who you’re trying to encourage to read, then I recommend Buying it.
Totally forgot that Percy visits Calypso in this.
Wild Magic follows the Song of the Lioness series and is the beginning of Daine’s story, a 13-year-old girl from Galla, a country to the north of Tortall, who was orphaned shortly before the story begins.
When Daine meets Onua, horsemistress of the Queen’s Riders of Tortall, at a fair and secures work as Onua’s assistant, she’s unaware that her life will greatly change. Daine has a strong connection with mammalian animals. She’s able to communicate with them and even influence them in other ways. These abilities come in handy when she travels to Tortall with Onua to help train the Queen’s Riders and when the kingdom is threatened by immortal creatures from the Divine Realms. As the story progresses, Daine finds a new place to belong, friends, and learns more about her magical abilities. (Goodreads)
I’m so glad that I decided to return to these books. Since it’s been such a long time since I’ve read this, I felt almost as if I was reading it for the first time. I’d forgotten enough of the story that what I remembered were like faint echoes of memories as I read.
Wild Magic quickly caught and held my interest. Though it’s a little slower paced than Riordan’s book, it was just as entertaining and the characters were delightful. I was glad to see older versions of beloved characters from the Song of the Lioness series and was happy to be introduced to new characters, such as Onua and Numair as well as the animals, like Daine’s horse Cloud.
I liked how the story progressed, though there are parts that need a bit more development to fully flesh out certain characters; but it’s obvious that this novel is a setup for the rest of the series. However, the magic and characters and conflicts mentioned are enough to hook the reader’s interest and make her anticipate what’s to come next.
One thing I didn’t expect was all the mythical creatures mentioned and included. I remembered the Stormwings (inspired by the furies, these are creatures with the body of a bird but the head of a human and their wings are metal) from my earlier readings, but I’d forgotten that griffins, an undine, ogres, a kraken, and even a DRAGON are all included. I’d forgotten about all that and was surprised when the DRAGON appeared.
Now I can’t wait to continue with the series. It’s as if I’m reading it for the first time again. I’d forgot how funny Numair is and I’m glad to be reintroduced to him. I’d also forgotten about the badger and would like to know more about him too.
Overall: ★★★★☆ ½
Another good read that I recommend if you want something fun and quick.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
But I Bought my copy because I want to keep Pierce’s books that I love.