Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

Ages 12 and up

In the series’ first book, The Red Pyramid, we meet Carter and Sadie Kane. Long separated siblings brought together on Christmas Eve by their dad. They are quickly sucked into a world that they never knew existed, the world of ancient Egyptian gods. Through the first book, Sadie and Carter learn to work together as they try to save their father from a face worse than death–only to discover that things are even worse than they originally expected. Apophis, the lord of Chaos, is rising and he is bent on world destruction. Three months later, we start The Throne of Fire. Sadie and Carter have started training other young magicians at Brooklyn house (they stay away from Manhattan, it apparently has other immortal problems *cough Olympians cough cough*). We find them right in the middle of a museum heist as they try to locate the three pieces of the book of Ra. They only have five days to find all the pieces and perform the ritual to awaken the senile sun god, Ra. Otherwise, Apophis will break free from his prison and the world will have no defense strong enough to put him back in his place and keep Ma’at in balance. With a cast of new characters as well as the beloved old ones, they set off to save the world from Chaos.

I remember when I first heard about The Red Pyramid. I had just finished the Percy Jackson series and adored it. So my first reaction was “He’s doing the same thing with Eyptian mythology? AWEsome!” I would have been perfectly happy with an Eygptian version of Percy Jackson. Every word would have eagerly devoured and just as thoroughly enjoyed. But for Riordan, that wasn’t enough. He didn’t rely on the same old concept with the Kane Chronicles, he came up with a slightly different one on that fit the mythology of Egypt so much better. And I love it. Throne of Fire delves even deeper into the Egyptian myths. We are introduced to new gods (Well, new for us. They’re actually very, very old). Each one is just as colorful and unique as the ones in the first book. Even the minor characters, the ones you only see for a page or two, are memorable.

One my favorite things about Rick Riordan’s books is how well he does first person narrative. With two narrators! The Kane Chronicles are told from both Carter and Sadie’s views. They take turns narrating the story (sometimes peacefully, sometimes not so much) into a tape recorder just as it was narrated in the first book. Sadie and Carter both have distinctive voices, so that even without having the current narrator’s name at the top of each page, I knew who was talking (Sadie’s British upbringing helps with that). And we get these funny little asides as they fight over the microphone/details of the story.

Riordan is really great about hooking you and drawing you into a greater plot. First in the sense of the plot over a series, he has this trick of creating a “minor’ bad guy to focus on in the first book before dangling a greater, world-ending threat at the very end so that you’re dying for next book. It works beautifully, he creates a sense of anticipation with making me want to tear my hair out from the suspense. Secondly, he jumps you right into the action. There is always a brief segment at the beginning where the main character (0r one of them) sets the stage and then BAM! They hit you with a hook that is pure brilliance (I believe the one in TOF had something to do with setting Brooklyn on fire).

I almost wish that I had something bad to say or something to be critical about, then this would seem a lot less like overeager brown-nosing. But my only problem with this book is that it ended and now I have to wait until next May for the third and final volume (Though Son of Neptune will help with that).

His sense of odd ball humor (think magic penguins, weasel cookies, and flying wombats) is fun and refreshing and just different enough from the humor he displays in Percy Jackson and the Olympians to make it distinct. It’s what makes his books so darn lovable. There are moments you can’t breathe for laughing. This is not a book you can read quietly. The chapter titles alone had me in stitches. Revenge of Bullwinkle the Moose God anyone? (Actually he’s a ram, but Sadie doesn’t seem to care.) Part of this humorous approach is what makes the minor characters so memorable. I only saw a few pages with nine-year-old Felix, but I remember him because he has a penchant for solving his problems with penguins.

Of course, it isn’t all giggles and laughs. After all, we are facing the end of the world as we know it. We have to watch as lives are given to save the world, because what Egyptian apocalypse would be complete without self-sacrifice? And Sadie and Carter are not always on the best of terms. They are two stubborn, decisive children who have to work through their differences to work together–and sometimes their fights have consequences. But they are still a team and they do still love each other. It helps to lend a sense of realism to a story that is completely fantastical, transforming it into something believable.

All in all, this book was a blast to read. I wish I could say that I couldn’t put it down, however, life did call and I had to put it down. Never willingly though. I have a feeling that just as with the Percy Jackson books, this is a book that I will return to time and time again. And force on my children someday, when I have some.

This is a good example of:

  • Distinct first person narrative
  • Switching between viewpoints
  • Fitting pieces into a larger plot
  • Character development
  • Good minor characters
  • Brilliant humor
This book is on my recommended reading list.
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