The Serpent’s Shadow

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t read The Red Pyramid or The Throne of Fire, turn back now!  If you don’t want to know what happens in the third book of Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles, The Serpent’s Shadow, turn back now!  This will be your only warning.

Last night, I finished reading the third and final book in The Kane Chronicles.  This book is The Serpent’s Shadow, and it’s already getting a lot of buzz at my school.  (Honestly, Rick Riordan could write a book about almost anything, and my students would have a fit over it.)  The book has only been out a week, and I’m already getting offers of food, school supplies, and money to have certain students moved to the top of the list to check it out.  (One kid offered up his dog.)  While I cannot be bribed (yet), I am thrilled that this book is so in demand.  Like Riordan’s other books, The Serpent’s Shadow is a great read and will appeal to readers from third grade on up.  It’s full of action, suspense, intrigue, humor, a heavy dose of Egyptian mythology, and even a little bit of romance.  Everyone will find something to enjoy.

Normal is not a word that the Carter and Sadie Kane are familiar with.  They are magicians descended from Egyptian pharaohs, and they often communicate and take on the forms of Horus and Isis, gods of ancient Egypt.  They run a school for young magicians out of their house in Brooklyn, their dad is Osiris (god of the afterlife), and their mom is a ghost.  Sadie has feelings for two different guys:  Walt, a descendent of King Tut who is cursed with a very short lifespan; and Anubis, god of the dead who tends to take on the form of a really attractive teenage boy.  Carter is enamored of a fellow magician, Zia, who spends most of her time babysitting Ra, a senile sun god.

As if life is not abnormal enough, add in a god of chaos, Apophis, who wants to swallow the sun and destroy the entire world.  The incredibly ginormous job of stopping him falls to Carter and Sadie and their merry band of misfits.  It’s up to them to unite magicians and gods in fighting Apophis and his minions, but how can they possibly destroy something so huge, terrifying, and powerful?  Well, they may have found a way, but it involves trusting an evil psychopath (not usually a smart move) and risking their own lives (also not preferable).  Carter and Sadie will have to face unbelievable horrors to save the world, and it still might not be enough.

Can the Kanes defeat the god of chaos without losing themselves?  Can they save those they love in the process?  Is there any hope for a normal life if their longshot of a plan actually works?  Probably not, but they have to try.  In a world that is falling into chaos, it’s up to two teenagers to restore order.  (I was laughing as I wrote that last bit.)  Read The Serpent’s Shadow to find out if their completely crazy heroic quest saves the world or destroys it forever.

Like The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire before it, I can’t say enough good things about The Serpent’s Shadow.  The humor alone was enough to keep me reading.  When you throw in a whole bunch of action and, you know, destroying stuff, I’m totally hooked.  This book was the perfect conclusion to The Kane Chronicles, but it definitely left the door open for more of Carter and Sadie Kane and friends.  (I’m hoping we’ll see them in some Percy Jackson crossover kind of thing…maybe in The Mark of Athena—the third book in The Heroes of Olympus series—which comes out this fall.)

To learn more about Rick Riordan, The Kane Chronicles, and Riordan’s other fabulous books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx or follow the author on Twitter @camphalfblood.  You may also want to check out this book trailer for The Serpent’s Shadow from Puffin Books.   It’s short, the cover is different (at least, it’s different from my copy), and the trailer gives nothing away, but it still may be worth a look.  Enjoy!

The Throne of Fire

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t read The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, do that before proceeding with this post.  You’ll be really confused if you don’t.  (Not to mention that the first book will be totally…well, spoiled for you.  That’s why we call this a spoiler alert.)  You’ve been warned!

I finished reading Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid a few months ago, and I had every intention of jumping right into book two in The Kane Chronicles, The Throne of Fire.  Life, however, has a way of interfering with one’s plans.  (Also, I had a bunch of other books I wanted to read, too.)  So, it’s now nearly three months later, and I’ve finally finished The Throne of Fire.  (I blame my stress-inducing, energy-sapping book fair last week for interfering with my reading speed on this book.)  The Throne of Fire is a good book with a lot of action and suspense, and events are very fast-paced.  If you enjoyed The Red Pyramid or any of Rick Riordan’s other books, you’ll definitely enjoy The Throne of Fire.

Carter and Sadie Kane can’t just have a normal life.  It’s not enough that they’re descended from pharoahs, or learning to harness their skills as magicians, or teaching others like them to do the same.  On top of all this, they’ve got to find a way to prevent Apophis, the god of chaos, from rising while trying to find the Book of Ra so that the sun god can rise and help them to defeat the forces of chaos threatening to take over the world.  Easy-peasy, right?  Um, not so much.  As usual, things don’t exactly go quite as well as the Kane family would like.

Carter and Sadie are encountering new and unexpected things in their latest adventures:  girl trouble (for Carter), boy trouble (for Sadie), two gods taking over the forms of their grandparents, an unbelievably ugly–but helpful–dwarf god, a bad Russian magician lovingly called Vlad the Inhaler (he has some respiratory issues), and a bunch of gods, goddesses, mummies, and magicians who seem to want the Kanes dead.  It wouldn’t be so bad if all of this wasn’t interfering with their search for Ra.  (Did I mention that they have absolutely no idea where Ra is or what condition he might be in when/if they find him?  No?  Well, now you know.)

Things aren’t looking good for Carter and Sadie and their fight to restore order to the world.  Chaos is breaking free, and it will take immense strength and a fair bit of sacrifice to prevent Apophis from destroying everything.  Are Carter and Sadie up to the task?  What–or who–will they have to give up this time to win the battle before them?  And will it be enough to strike a blow in the war that is coming?  The answers are never easy, but you can discover them yourself when you read The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan.

I have to say that I enjoyed this book just as much as I did The Red Pyramid.  (Riordan’s Percy Jackson series will always be my favorite, though.)  I look forward to reading more about Carter and Sadie Kane and their war against Apophis.  The third book in The Kane Chronicles is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2012.  No word yet on the title.

FYI, if you’re in or around South Carolina, Rick Riordan will be at Books-a-Million in Columbia on October 4th to promote his latest release, The Son of Neptune, the second book in his Heroes of Olympus series.  He’s set to arrive in carriage pulled by three black horses–just like Hades.  I don’t have many details on the event yet, but I plan to be there. 

If you’d like more information on Rick Riordan, his books, and his upcoming tour schedule, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.  Have fun!

The Red Pyramid

When I was in the third grade, I went on a field trip to view a museum exhibit on Ancient Egypt.  Since then, I’ve been completely captivated by the subject, particularly Egyptian mythology.  I think it’s fascinating to study how ancient cultures, and not just those in Egypt, created gods, goddesses, and entire belief systems to explain the world around them.  (I think I’ve mentioned before that I also have a fondness for Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology.  Fun stuff.)  Anyway, my latest read, The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, delves into Egyptian mythology, and Riordan gives this world as much life as he did for Greek mythology in the Percy Jackson series and the Romans in The Lost Hero.

In The Red Pyramid, we meet estranged siblings Carter and Sadie Kane.  When their mother died, the siblings were split up.  Carter traveled the world with their archaeologist father while Sadie lived with their maternal grandparents in London.  This Christmas, though, the brother and sister will be reunited for what they think will be an uneventful holiday with their father.  They could not be more wrong.  And it all starts when they blow up the British Museum.

As you can imagine, an explosion in a popular museum is a pretty big deal.  It’s an even bigger deal when the explosion causes your dad to be imprisoned in a sarcophagus and several gods to be released into the world.  It seems that dear old Dad was up to something, and it’s up to Carter and Sadie to figure out what’s going on and set things right before the world devolves into complete chaos.  But how?  How can two kids who barely know each other unite to stop Set, one of the gods who was released, from destroying all of North America?

Well, Carter and Sadie aren’t exactly normal kids (as you may have guessed).  They are descended from pharaohs, and have the potential to be very, very powerful, especially when it becomes clear that a couple of Egyptian deities have taken up residence in their heads.  Carter and Sadie are also being assisted by their Uncle Amos (who may or may not be on their side), the cat goddess, Bast (who Sadie always knew as Muffin, a beloved pet), a magical baboon named Khufu, an albino alligator called Philip of Macedonia, and a few gods, goddesses, and magicians that have agendas of their own.

Carter and Sadie must stop Set from completing construction on his red pyramid before sunrise on Set’s birthday.  If they don’t, the pyramid will become a magical force that will ensure the spread of chaos and desolation across the continent and eventually all over the world.  Can Carter and Sadie, two kids with very limited knowledge of their magical heritage, possibly defeat such a powerful force?  What sacrifices will they have to make to even the odds?  Will Carter and Sadie (and their lovely assistants) be able to restore balance to the world, or will chaos reign forever?  Read The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan to find out!

I truly enjoyed how Riordan melded the modern world to Ancient Egypt in this book.  It was interesting to read about how the Egyptian belief system evolved, and devolved, over time and how Carter and Sadie were charged with restoring it to its former glory.  I appreciated how many of the gods and goddesses were viewed as neither good nor bad.  Each being had both flaws and redeeming qualities.  Additionally, I liked how Carter and Sadie grew closer together throughout the book.  They were at their most powerful when they were united.  I also loved the subtle allusion to the events in the Percy Jackson series at the beginning of the book.  (It’s one of those blink-and-you-miss-it kind of things, so be on the lookout.)

As I’m sure you probably know, The Red Pyramid is the first book in a series, The Kane Chronicles.  The second book, The Throne of Fire, is already out, and I plan to read that within the next couple of weeks.  The third book in the series is scheduled for a spring 2012 release.  If you’d like more information on this series or author Rick Riordan, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/my-books/kane-chronicles.aspx.  Have fun!

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