Tuesday, November 30, 2010
An Egyptian High Adventure
It wasn't enough, Rick Riordan, to tackle the Greek and Roman Myths with such skill? You still had to go Egyptian, too? Well, at least we know the myths are in good hands with you. In all their glory, crankiness, megalomania, and super-holy lunacy, the Gods and Goddesses of Egypt are here and ready to battle... the Kane kids? The Kane Chronicles, Book One: Red Pyramid takes the unlikely heroes of Sadie and Carter Kane and makes them save the world!
Since their mother died, Carter Kane has been on the road with his Egyptologist/archaeologist father, Julius Kane, while Sadie Kane has been in London living with her grandparents and enduring a rather normal life. Both kids see each other only twice a year, but both resent the other. Carter wants Sadie's stable life, and Sadie wants Carter's life with their dad. When the two kids go to The British Museum with Julius, they expect another day of work disguised as a family visit. What they get is nothing they could have expected.
Instead of normal exhibit viewing, Julius tells his kids to chain the curator in his office and stay out of the room, which they don't do, of course. When they come in the room, they witness their father summoning someone or something and releasing a scary fire man from the Rosetta Stone. Their father is thrown into a giant sarcophagus and sucked into the floor. Once the police take them back to their grandparents house, Sadie and Carter find out they are being deported and have to leave with their Uncle Amos immediately- a man neither of them know anything about.
They are whisked away to NYC and taken to their uncle's magical mansion (atop an abandoned warehouse and magically cloaked). Here they begin to learn their true lineage- that they are the descendants of two lines of magical lines from the Gods- one on their mother's side and one from their father's family. This makes them the perfect vessels for Gods, one where they could hold the Gods without losing themselves like so many have throughout history (Cleopatra). The problem? Sadie and Carter aren't too keen on sharing their bodies with Isis and Horus. Unfortunately, with Osiris stuck in their father's body and evil Set out to destroy the world, they have no choice but to work together with their Gods to save the world, and their dad. Now they must do so with an uncle they don't quite trust, Set creating a Red Pyramid that will make him all powerful, a group of murderous cranky Egyptian legends on their trail, and not much by way of friends except Bast, the cat Goddess, and a crazy baboon who likes to each things that end in "o" (Dorito, Cheeto, flamingo...).
After reading The Lost Hero, I was worried I might have a hard time breaking away from my favorite Greek Gods for this new series, especially since I don't know as much about Egyptian Gods as I do Greek Gods. Boy, was I wrong! This is a great story told from both Sadie's and Carter's perspectives. All the characters, from the two main characters down to the ridiculous baboon who is always getting into trouble, are hilarious, flawed, and endearing. The story is exciting and enthralling, one that will certainly keep any child or adult addicted. If you have a kid who loved Percy Jackson but needs something different, this is what will keep them reading.
The reading level is relatively simple, and luckily the Egyptian Gods names are not as tongue-twisty as the Greek Gods (Dionysus vs. Set). The book is rather long, though, and might be daunting to unsure readers. This book would be a great companion for any class learning about Egypt. It shows the Gods and myths in whole new lights that let you really know the stories while still feeling connected to the people and creatures in them. Riordan is amazing, and I hope he eventually decides to tap into the Norse Gods too- I need to buff up on my Norse Mythology now that Greek, Roman, and Egyptian are covered!