Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Carter and Sadie Kane are the children of Dr. Julian Kane, a famous Egyptologist. Six years ago, there was a tragic accident at Cleopatra's Needle, and their mother was killed. Her parents, the Fausts, sued Carter and Sadie's father for custody of Sadie and won, but they didn't want Carter, so he remained with his father.

For the last six years, Carter has traveled with his father to digs and lecture halls, trained to pack all his luggage, just like his Dad, into a single bag. Twice a year, Carter, Sadie and their father get to meet and spend the day together- once in the summer and once in the winter. Now, it's the night before Christmas, and even though Sadie is sick and tired of Egyptology, their father proposes a trip to the British Museum, telling her that he's "going to make things right". But already, someone is following them and trying to persuade their father out of what he is about to do... someone named Amos.

What that means, the siblings have no idea, but at the museum, their father lets them get up close and personal with the Rosetta Stone, and asks the curator for some papers about it. The man is nervous about leaving the stone in the same room as Carter and Sadie, but their father vouches for them, and the man leaves. Their father asks them to lock the door, and they do, and then the strangeness *really* starts!

Their father pulls out what looks like a boomerang, and gestures at the floor, which begins to glow blue, like it had neon tubes embedded in it. He writes Egyptian Hieroglyphs in the air, and suddenly Sadie can read them. "Come". He sketches more Heiroglyphs and even Carter can read these. Osiris. There is a loud explosion, and the Rosetta stone is blown to smithereens. But between them and their father is a vaguely man-shaped creature formed of flames, who tells their father that when you open a door, you shouldn't be surprised when something else slips through.

He imprisons their father in a golden coffin, which sinks into the earth, trapping their father, as far as they know, forever. Hurt by the explosion, the two pass out, and when they wake up, the police are there, ready to arrest the both of them, under suspicion that Julian Kane is/was a terrorist.

Carter and Sadie are taken to the home of their grandparents, where the Police inspector interrogates them both. He's convinced both of them are lying, and suddenly, a change comes over him, and he tells the siblings that they are being deported from England. Even Sadie, who has lived there most of her life. It's confusing, but soon they are in the custody of another dark-skinned man: Amos, who, as it turns out, is their Uncle, but neither sibling really seems to remember him.

It's up to him to deliver a stunning truth- Carter and Sadie are the offspring of magicians. Both their father and their mother were fairly powerful magicians, and both siblings are the most powerful magicians to come along in centuries. Their powers were so great that they had to be separated, for fear of causing devastation and destruction when they argued.

But now their father is missing as a result of trying to bring back Osiris into the world. And as a result, Set, one of the most fractious and perhaps evil of the Gods, has been loosed back into the world. And Set has a horrible plan for the world... unless Carter and Sadie can stop him. But with not only Set's minions, like Serquet the Scorpion Goddess, are on their trail, but their fellow magicians as well, because they believe that Carter and Sadie are guilty of the worst crime of all... channelling the gods themselves!

When I first heard that Rick Riordan was writing a new series after the Percy Jackson series, and that it involved the Egyptian Gods, I thought it was going to be Camp Half-blood all over again, only with the Egyptian Gods. Boy, am I glad I was wrong! This story is much more entertaining than another round of Egyptian Camp Half-Blood would have been. And it fits in more with how the Egyptians think about their gods as well.

To the Egyptians, Gods were more than powerful beings, they were ideas. Rick Riordan can have Gods here that are present inside our heroes, because they are spirits inhabiting their bodies and minds. This makes Carter and Sadie much more powerful as magicians- they can call on the power of the Gods to power their spells, but it's not a permanent solution- because the Gods want to take control of them- not in a malicious way, but in a helpful way. The only problem is, that way lies madness, and that's why the Egyptian magicians are so dead set against it.

But while Set is a fairly chaotic and malicious power, he's not really evil- and the other Egyptian Gods know that. Once he fought the true evil of the Egyptian pantheon, Apophis/Apep as a warrior at the side of Osiris. The question is, can he be recalled to that role, or will he always be a destroyer, the true red-headed stepchild? And is the evil he is perpetrating his own idea, or is even he being manipulated by someone else?

I loved this book. I loved how Riordan worked with the Egyptian Gods, and the powers that both children exhibited, and the way they interacted not only with the Gods, but with each other and the other characters. The novel is written as if it is being dictated by the two sometime afterwards, and includes the usual sort of childishness (hitting each other, accusations of "liking" people of the opposite sex, etc.) you expect of siblings.

I also liked how magic worked, and the differences in the magic powers and abilities between the two characters, and the visions and flashbacks to the past and the possible original lives of the Gods Horus and Isis. We also find out how Carter and Sadie can host the Gods for so long and not go insane-it's in their bloodlines. Both sides of their family are descended from the Pharaohs- different ones, but that makes them the most powerful magicians of their bloodlines, as well as able to host gods.

In fact, I couldn't find anything I *didn't* like about this book. The use of Shabtis, the gods, even how Carter and Sadie are sort of united with their parents at the end. It was all good. For something wonderfully and amazingly different from his "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series that involves the Egyptian Gods instead of the Greek ones, for an almost entirely different feel, this is the series you want to read. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that this book was just as good as the percy jackson series. Although it did bear some resemblance to Percy Jackson, there was originality and quality.