| Spoiler Alert!
Warning! This page contains spoilers for The Burning Maze.
The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.
With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor—and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles—somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon…
The cover and excerpt of the first chapter of this book was released on January, 17th, 2018.
Apollo, Meg McCaffrey, and Grover Underwood have been navigating through the Labyrinth for two days. They come across a narrow passage and barely miss a blast of fire, that means their getting close. They were chased by strixes, owl-like creatures who eat human flesh and will curse anyone who kills them. Upon reaching a fifty-foot circular chamber, Meg and Grover manage to hold most of them back with tomato plants but one breaks free and paralyzes Apollo. Grover, who can talk to animals, tries to make peace with the strix. But the bird of ill omen replies that the emperor commanded them to eat them. Meg accidentally kills that strix by sending it flying into the brick wall. She and Grover make the tomato barrier stronger and duct tape Apollo to the satyr's back. During the climbing Apollo takes the Arrow of Dodona out for advice about the strixes. Meg couldn't summon Peaches to help fight and the strixes break free. The arrow says they can be repelled with "arbutus". Grover suddenly summons Panic which he received from Pan, all the strixes flee. Meg got paralyzed from the waist down but Apollo is feeling better, enough to be released from Grover's back. The top of the chamber was a domed ceiling, but Grover sees that it looks familiar. He and Meg realize that arbutus plants resemble strawberries. The strixes are coming back so Meg plants her seeds on the ramp. Grover and Apollo use music to make them explode like fireworks, the strixes hate that. Suddenly, the chamber rumbled, the strawberries were breaking the dome. The rocks kill the strixes but the plants continue to grow, the three use them as a trampoline to get out. Apollo gives Meg Ambrosia for the paralysis, they have reached Grover's base.
In a dream, Apollo sees a young woman handcuffed over a pool of lava. She apologizes to someone and says Apollo must come save her even though it is a trap. After the woman dissolves into flames, the dream transitioned. This time Apollo was in a terrace near the Gulf of Naples at night. A young man is approached by a stronger man who calls him Princeps. The strong man has just killed someone with the victim's own pillow, the younger man said the "old pig" deserved it as he's been waiting years for him to die. When stepped into the moonlight, Apollo recognizes this man as one who is handsome yet horribly evil. The stronger man yells, "Hail, Caesar!"
Apollo wakes up on a tarp in the desert near twilight. He and Meg McCaffrey passed out for hours. They are currently on the outskirts of Palm Springs, they came out of a cistern. The nearby ruins are the base of Grover Underwood and his "others", there have been lots of abnormal natural disasters happening. Meg is not happy to be here again. Grover brings them to the ruins of an old greenhouse. There they meet, Prickly Pear, Aloe Vera, and Joshua, Dryads. A cloud nymph named Mellie is also there.
| Then there was the little one...
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Finding the store took forever, because Grover kept getting sidetracked. Night fell. The western horizon glowed – not with the usual orange of mortal light pollution but with the ominous red of a distant inferno. Smoke blotted out the stars. The temperature barely cooled. The air still smelled bitter and wrong. Apollo remembered the wave of flames that had nearly incinerated us in the Labyrinth. The heat seemed to have had a personality – a resentful malevolence. "I thought about my dream of the woman in molten chains, standing on a platform above a pool of lava. Despite his fuzzy memories, Apollo was sure that woman was the Erythraean Sibyl, the next Oracle he has to free from the emperors. Something told me she was imprisoned in the very centre of … whatever was generating those subterranean fires. I did not relish the idea of finding her." They stopped at a major intersection. Across the boulevard stood a warehouse store with a glowing red sign: MACRO’S MILITARY MADNESS! The parking lot was empty except for an old yellow Pinto parked near the entrance. Realizing it was Hedge's car, they head into the store.
As predicted, Gleeson Hedge was in the firearms section, whistling as he stuffed his shopping trolley with rifle scopes and barrel brushes. Naevius Sutorius Macro, praetor who served an emperor that likes being called Neo Helios (New Sun), tricks Apollo into telling him that he is Apollo. Macro wants to capture Apollo so that he gets into the emperor’s good graces. Then it turns out that all the employees are automatons. Macro reveals that the emperors name is Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. Upon hearing this Apollo tells Grover and Coach Hedge to run. Gleeson Hedge of course charged at Macro in an attempt to kill him, luckily Apollo pulls Hedge away and they ran down an aisle trying to escape. Grover gets separated in the confusion. They try to get out the front doors after Coach Hedge executed a perfect roundhouse kick at Macro, but the front doors are locked.
In the Labyrinth, Herophile guided Apollo to where she was being held through a series of word puzzles. Herophile spouted multiple word puzzles that, combined, say the following:
Apollo faces death in Tarquin’s Tomb unless the doorway to the soundless god is opened by...
Upon solving the word puzzles, Grover, Meg and Apollo reached Herophile in her chains. After Meg tried to free her, Apollo began spouting the following lines:
Bronze upon gold
East meets west
Legions are redeemed
Light the depths
One against many
Never spirit defeated
Ancient words spoken
Shaking old foundations
Destroy the tyrant
Aid the winged
Under golden hills
Great stallion’s foal
Turn red tides
Harken the trumpets
Enter stranger’s home
Regain lost glory
While those words illuminated the floor tiles, Meg noticed that they were an acrostic that spelled out "Bellona's Daughter" making the full prophecy the following:
Apollo faces death in Tarquin’s Tomb unless the doorway to the soundless god is opened by Bellona's Daughter
Unraveling the prophecy
Bellona's daughter refers to Reyna Ramírez-Arellano, the senior praetor of the twelfth legion. It is believed that Apollo would die in the tomb of Tarquin Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the final king of Rome, unless Reyna releases some soundless god.
- Once was Apollo/ Now a rat in the Lab’inth/ Send help. And cronuts
- Now I'm a suitcase/ Duct-taped to a satyr's back./ Worst. Morning. Ever.
- Strixes do sucketh/ Yea, verily I tell you/ Much sucking is theirs
- Welcome to my base/ We have rocks, sand, and ruins/ Did I mentions rocks?
- First-aid succulent/ Heal me of my many cuts!/ (But no slime trail, please)
- Random plumes of fire/ Ground squirrels nibble my nerves/ I love the desert
- Family fun packs/ Should be for frozen pizza/ Not for frag grenades
- We blow up some things/ You thought all the things blew up?/ No, we found more things
- Collect call from Horse/ Do you accept the charges?/ Nay-ay-ay-ay-ay
- Cute kid you got there/ With the itty-bitty boots/ And murderous grin
- No touchy the god/ Unless your visions are good/ And you wash your hands
- O, Pinto, Pinto!/ Wherefore art thou puke yellow?/ I'll hide in the back
- Don't move the gas grill/ Meg is still playing with it/ We are so KA-BOOM
- Bedrossian Man/ Bedrossian Man, run as/ Fast as ... yoga pants
- Grover leaves early/ Grover is a smart satyr/ Lester, not so much
- Let's charmspeak battle/ You are ugly and you suck/ The end. Do I win?
- Phil and Don are dead/ Bye-bye, love and happiness/ Hello, headlessness
- Whoa, there, Medea/ Don't be all up in my face/ With your hot granddad
- In my underclothes/ Slathered with grease. Really not/ As fun as it sounds
- O muse, let us now/ Sing in the praise of botanists!/ They do plant stuff. Yay.
- When life gives you seeds/ Plant them in dry rocky soil/ I'm an optimist
- For my school project/ I made this pagan temple/ Monopoly board
- It's a beautiful/ Day in the neighborhood- Wait/ Actually, it's not
- Ah, Santa Barbara!/ Famed for surfing! Fish tacos!/ And crazy Romans!
- All in the same boat/ Wait. Two of us disappeared./ Half in the same boat
- Oh, Florence and Grunk/ La-di-da, something, something/ I'll get back to you
- I can kill you all/ Or I can sing you Joe Walsh/ Really, it's your choice
- Apollo, disguised/ As Apollo, disguised as.../ Nah. Too depressing.
- A horse is a horse/ Of course, of course. and no one/ Can- RUN! HE'LL KILL YOU!
- I'll never leave you/ Love will keep us together/ Or glue. Glue works too
- I give you my heart/ I mean metaphorically/ Put away that knife
- Don't make me do it/ I'm crazy, I'll do it, I'll-/ Ow, that really hurt
- No good news awaits/ I warned you right at the start/ Turn away, reader
- Surfing accident/ My new euphemism for/ Worst evening ever
- If you give a pan-/ dos a ukelele, he/ Will want lessons. DON'T.
- A suspended fourth/ The kind of chord you play just/ Before suddenly-
- Want to play a game?/ It's easy. You take a guess./ Then you burn to death.
- I sing to myself!/ Though Apollo is cooler/ Like way, way cooler
- Noble sacrifice/ I'll protect you from the flames/ Wow, I'm a good guy
- Congratulations/ You finished the word puzzle/ You win... enemies
- Meg sings. It's over./ Everybody just go home/ We are so roasted
- You want prophecy?/ I'll drop some nonsense on you/ Eat my gibberish!
- Favorite chapter/ Because only one bad death/ That is just messed up
- Ha-ha-ha, dryads?/ That's straight from the horse's mouth/ Good-bye, Mr. Horse
- Desert flowers bloom/ Sunset rain sweetens the air/ Time for a game show!
- Second prize: Road trip/ With Bon Jovi on cassette/ First prize: Please, don't ask
- In-flight beverages/ Include the tears of a god/ Please have exact change
- While The Hidden Oracle does not complete any prophecy, and The Dark Prophecy completes the Limerick Prophecy, The Burning Maze does not complete a prophecy. It merely sees the completion of the second and third verses of the Sonnet Prophecy.