Author: Rick Riordan
The Red Pyramid (2010)
The Throne of Fire (2011)
The Serpent’s Shadow (2012)
- Carter Kane
- Sadie Kane
- Zia Rashid
- Walt Stone
That list of characters is just the tip of the iceberg. As with all of Riordan’s books, there is an extensively large roster, and they’re all fleshed out. Quite a few of the main characters are not included in that list, such as Set, who was the antagonist in the first book.
Moving on to the actual review. This is one of Riordan’s most underrated works. Perhaps it isn’t highlighted as much as Percy Jackson or Heroes Of Olympus because this is only a trilogy, or because it doesn’t have Percy Jackson in it. But I really think it needs more spotlight.
The Kane Chronicles explores the world of Egyptian mythology; magic; and above all (most importantly), family, friendship and love. Personally, I feel like Riordan went the right route by focusing on the last thing. It made the story feel more personal, intimate. It was touching.
The two main protagonists are Carter and Sadie Kane, whose father is mysteriously killed one night at the British Museum. Their lives take a turn from there, and they have to, well, save the world. Pretty simple, huh?
Carter and Sadie, though they are brother and sister, were raised separately after their mother died (also mysteriously). While Carter (the older one) traveled the world with his archaeologist father, Sadie was raised by her mother’s parents in London, where she became a rebellious, highlight wearing pre-teen. Carter, on the other hand, was more responsible. This contrast of characters aided this series greatly. It showed how both sides of the coin were needed for success, and the overall tone of the books changed as time went on. Carter and Sadie basically had no chemistry at the start, especially considering they barely ever saw each other, but as it progressed they grew closer to each other, depended on each other. You could connect to them. The books are narrated by both protagonists, depending on the chapter. What Riordan does well, as he did with the Heroes of Olympus too, is he completely changes the feel of the text when a different person is narrating. It feels like you’re looking through the mind of someone else.
The first book really just serves as a means to establish the Kanes’ backgrounds and develop them initially. We are introduced to their uncle Amos, who also evolves as the series progresses. His character was probably the most unexpected, in terms of the lengths that it went to. Carter and Sadie are ‘hosted’ by Horus and Isis respectively, who are the Egyptian god(ess)s of warriors and magic, also respectively. The conflict within the two protagonists was captured well, and their struggle to control the gods within them was well done. Together, they must embark on a mission with the cat goddess, Bast. The main antagonist is Set, the god of evil, and really he is a good villain, but in the end the actual villain for the trilogy is revealed: Apophis, the serpent of Chaos. Set is tamed and in the end, although suspiciously, agrees to be of aid to the Kanes whenever they need him. Zia Rashid is introduced in this book, and Carter has a massive crush on her, but she is more important in the other two books. However, there is a twist concerning her in the series that really shakes things up.
When The Throne of Fire kicks in though, everything, and I mean everything, takes a whole new embodiment. Sadie and Carter have established an organisation called Brooklyn House, where they train young initiates to learn magic and the path of the gods. In the opening pages, we are introduced to Walt Stone (who is extremely important overall), and Jaz, who is not really developed much further. This book also made Sadie Kane into much more than she already was. While she did have a very key role in the previous book, it was really Carter who battled with Set. In this one, Sadie is really the one who does everything important. Zia Rashid also has a big role, and the many other initiates are used well.
In this book, Carter and Sadie try to awaken Ra, the Egyptian Sun god, and former king of the gods, in order to have some sort of chance against Apophis. They must embark on a journey through the Duat, a magical realm that exists… Somewhere. It’s hard to understand what it really is. When they find Ra, the following sequence is hilarious, and the way he is handled was completely unexpected. Walt’s character arc serves central to the story, and leaves stakes high heading into the third book. Sadie, in this book, is juggling between Walt and Anubis, the Egyptian god of the afterlife. She sees no flaws in both of them and really has to struggle with herself. That (creepily) resolves itself in the next book though.
The Serpent’s Shadow had to hit it out of the park, and it did, mostly. The central story and the use of characters was handled well. Zia accepting Carter and reciprocating his feelings for her felt satisfactory, and what I mean by that is, it felt perfect. You could feel Carter’s struggle though the series, and his pain that she didn’t feel the same way about him. Sadie’s situation with Anubis and Walt was handled a bit of an unorthodox way, but… Moving on. In order to defeat Apophis, Carter and Sadie try to go about the complicated way, and find his sheut, his shadow. Many things happen in the book. It’s a lot more eventful than the other two, and moves really fast. The main characters have to group, regroup and keep regrouping, so the book always feels fresh. There are an infinite amount of story elements going into, and in, this book, and they are all handled well. Carter and Sadie become the closest siblings in the world in this book, and that’s heart warming.
And call me weird, but the last chapter culminates with Sadie and Walt having a rooftop dance. I smiled through the whole chapter.
Now I have to talk about my one major complain with this book, and I feel like Riordan has done this before with his books: The villain! With the exception of Kronos, the main villains that Riordan has had thus far have fell flat. Apophis is talked about so fearfully and set up so well over the last two books, but he’s barely in it at all. I wanted to see him kill one or two important people, destroy some places, as he was teased to doing, but it didn’t happen. There was never really any struggle with Apophis.
But, given that, that barely takes any points away from the series. You feel for these characters, it messes with your emotions, and the character arcs of every character is amazing. Their relationships are all unique and handled incredibly. Sadie and Walt have that sense of romance in the air, while Walt and Carter have a tone of brothers-in-arms or soldiers standing shoulder by shoulder. At the same time, Sadie and Carter have quarrels and moments of love, affection and protection, the perfect sibling pairing. This is just an example. It’s like this for every single major character. You can’t get much better than that. And there are so many important characters that I didn’t even mention here! The scope that this series took was immense, and it payed off.
In a rating system that involves my name, The Kane Chronicles gets a MIHIR. To explain what that means, an M is the lowest, and R is the highest rating anything can get.