The Burning Maze didn’t pull its punches! Rick Riordan talks with us about the shocking moment found within the pages of The Trials of Apollo Book 3.
This is your one and only warning that there are major spoilers below. If you haven’t yet finished The Burning Maze, stop reading now!
For those of you who have read The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan, you’ll know there’s a significant death that occurs in the final battle near the end of the book. We’ve been asked not to mention who was killed, only that it’s a major character, so as to avoid accidentally spoiling fans who have yet to read the novel.
When I spoke to Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan about The Burning Maze last week, I made sure to include some questions about how he felt writing this major death into the Trials of Apollo series. These are his answers.
I assume since you dedicated ‘The Burning Maze’ to the Muse of Tragedy, that it was as difficult for you to write about this death as it was for us to read it?
Oh, I am sure it’s more difficult for me to write about character deaths because I created these guys and I have lived with them for years day to day. I know their lives inside and out. Each character is in some way part of me. But death is part of life, and without any good guys dying, there are no real stakes in the narrative. The story would have no emotional impact. Readers love to complain about character deaths, but they secretly (or maybe not so secretly) want those deaths to happen, because those are the heartbreaking events that make us feel.
How long has this character been doomed to this fate? Was there ever any question that it might be someone else instead?
Yes, these are the sorts of questions I struggle with: what has to happen, who is most at risk, whose fate string must be cut? A lot of these things develop over the course of many books, but it became clear to me as I was writing book two that in book three, things were going to take a very serious turn. The storyline demanded it.
We have yet to see how everyone will react to this character’s fate. Will the fallout from his death continue into ‘The Tyrant’s Tomb’?
The fallout from any important death will certainly resonate through the series. Everyone needs to grieve and respond in their own way. When we get to Camp Jupiter, we will of course see a lot of this reaction: disbelief, anger, grief, rage. Oh, such fun!
Apollo took this death hard in ‘The Burning Maze,’ but will this impact him over the course of the next few books?
Apollo has reached a turning point in book three, I think, and yes, his situation and the consequences of his trials are finally feeling real to him. That will continue to haunt him, sure. But his toughest choices are yet to come.
Is anyone safe, or might we expect more tragedy on the horizon?
You didn’t really expect me to answer that, did you? (insert smiley-face and/or demon-face emoji here) You should not assume anyone is safe. You should always expect tragedy. As Percy told you on page one of The Lightning Thief, “Being a half-blood is dangerous. Most of the time it gets you killed in painful, nasty ways.” He wasn’t joking about that.