20
May
10

What I’m Reading: The Red Pyramid

About this time last year, I discovered the work of writer Rick Riordan, whose fantasy series Percy Jackson and the Olympians was just reaching its conclusion. Having read and become a huge fan of that series since then, I was glad to be there earlier this month when Riordan’s new series, The Kane Chronicles, began. The Percy Jackson books, if you’ve never read them, are about modern-day sons and daughters of the ancient Greek gods. The new series turns Riordan’s attention to another mythology — that of ancient Egypt.

In The Red Pyramid, first book of The Kane Chronicles, we are introduced to a new pair of protagonists, siblings Carter and Sadie Kane. Since the death of their mother several years ago, Carter and Sadie have grown up apart. Carter travels the world with their archeologist father, while their maternal grandparents have gotten custody of Sadie and are raising her in London. The family has only been reunited twice a year for several years, and with Christmas coming, Carter and his father are coming to see her. The visit is ruined, though, when a catastrophe unleashes an ancient evil and the Kane siblings find themselves on the run.

Comparisons to the Percy Jackson books are almost impossible to avoid, given the similarity of the concepts — young heroes forced to go into battle against (and sometimes alongside) gods that most people in the modern-day world now believe were only myths, and it will be up to the children to save the world when the time comes.The mechanics of the story tread the line between reusing elements of Percy’s world and original material. Fortunately there’s a line in the book — just one — that implies that the Kanes and Percy live in the same fictional universe. Casting these stories in the same world helps considerably, allowing Riordan to use some of the same rules without feeling like he’s just repeating himself.

Carter himself is cut out of the same mold as Percy, the young, reluctant hero. Fortunately, Carter has something that Percy didn’t — a sarcastic but incredibly strong sister in Sadie. Nothing against Carter, but it’s Sadie who really sets this series apart.The narrative actually bounces back, with each of the sibs taking turns narrating a chapter or two at a time in an audio recording ostensibly “found” and transcribed by Rick Riordan. The real great thing about the way it’s written is that Riordan manages to channel two distinct voices without being confusing or jarring in the transition.

The first book in the Kane Chronicles is pretty good. Oddly, I think if I’d never ready the Percy books, I would enjoy it more. I did enjoy it quite a bit, though, more than enough to be ready for the next book in the series. If you enjoyed Percy (or haven’t read it and enjoy some all-ages fantasy) give this book a try.

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