The Red Pyramid (1st book in the Kane Chronicles series)
By: Rick Riordan
Published: May 4th, 2010
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Today I thought I would look at the first book in the Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan: The Red Pyramid. I came across this title in December in a 2013 Read Wrap-Up (I think?) and wanted to give this series a try. You might be wondering why I picked this one rather than The Lightning Thief (the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series), and that is because when I was younger, I loved Ancient Egypt and Egyptian mythology. So when I heard he wrote a similar series around Ancient Egyptian mythology, I wanted to read it for myself.
Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe – a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
The story is told through the points of view of Sadie and Carter Kane, which they are recalling the events into a recorder and leaving for “someone” to find. I was never all too sure on how this recording was meant to get to someone, but perhaps that will become clearer in the second book. I found it interesting that Riordan choose to have the two siblings come from mixed parents (the father black while the mother white) and to have them look different from one another. This allows for a small commentary on not only how we treat people who do not look related and also, through Carter’s perspective, the treatment of people with darker skin by people in roles of security. Given that the intended audience is in their early teens, Riordan does not go deep into this commentaries but I would imagine that it would make the characters feel more realistic to those who have experienced those racial issues. Also the publisher is Disney, I do not really expect to read in-depth commentary on the issues of race and ethnicity coming from this company.
While I did find the read enjoyable, I was disappointed in how much information the story goes into the Egyptian gods and goddess to be rather lacking, especially since Carter would be familiar with this information due to his extensive traveling with his father. Nephthys gets relegated to the role of being Set’s wife-sister, Isis becomes the deceiver and manipulator, and Horus is a ruler and a bit of a douche-bag. Set, being the primary antagonist in the book, came out to be fairly accurate to who he is in Egyptian mythology, but I felt the other four became did not get the same amount of accuracy and felt a bit “dumbed down”. I hope that the next two books allow them to be flushed out more. I found Bast to be highly entertaining and accurate, both in terms of being an Egyptian goddess and a cat. At one point in the story, Bast, Sadie and Carter are on the run and need an escape vehicle. Bast spots a silver Lexus convertible and immediately claims it as her own. Carter points out that the car is not hers, but Bast responds by saying: “My dear, I’m a cat. Everything I see is mine.” Anyone with experience around cats knows this to be true and I found it funny. I also enjoyed Anubis and his interactions with Sadie. This is definitely something that I can see growing down the road.
I found it to be odd that none of the previously trapped gods/goddesses had any difficulties with the new modern era or much commentary on it. Bast would be the best device for this since she has been in the modern world for six years, which would be a drop in the bucket compared to her age and experience in Ancient Egypt. Even we have times where we wish things were like they were in the past, and our past is not as distant in comparison. Nothing seemed to faze her and she seemed completely at ease in this new world, not even once having a moment of wishful thinking for the world to go back to that era. We could have even gotten questions from Horus and Isis wondering about this new world around them and looking for explanations after being locked up for such a long period of time but we did not even get that. It seemed like a lost opportunity for the author and made the gods/goddesses feel unrealistic not to be phased by the changes in civilizations and technology. How does Bast even know how to drive a car when she has been in the body of a cat for the past six years?
I also wish we could have spent more time in Egypt, exploring how it has changed and not changed since the olden times, and how the people work the old gods and goddesses into their life rather than spending the time in America, London or Pairs, far removed from Egypt and Egyptian customs. And why would an Egyptian god like Set, who has only recently been unleased into this modern new world, want to destroy North America (let’s be honest: when they say North America, they mean the US)?? I would think he would be more interested in destroying Egypt since that is a more familiar region to him. Heck, I would even buy him wanting to destroy Greece more then North America since that is so far removed from Egypt. It would be like a Chinese god wanting to destroy Brazil and half of South America along with it. It makes no sense.
Overall, I found the book enjoyable and would not mind reading but I do not find myself on the edge of my seat wanting to continue in this universe as soon as possible and looking to see if I can get the next book from the library. I simply find that I have other books that I would rather read at this point. I know people who have read both series find the Percy Jackson series more enjoyable and better written so I think I will try The Lightning Thief to see for myself, but I do not see myself coming back to this series any time soon. It was a good read, but I have read more enjoyable young adult books.
I would love to know what you guys thought about the book, or if I missed something when I read it. Comments are always welcome here!