A few weeks ago I experienced an exceptionally long flight delay at the Atlanta airport. Delays usually make me crazy, but this one was just swell because it gave me more time to enjoy yet another Rick Riordan series: The Kane Chronicles, the Egyptian mythology equivalent to Percy Jackson. About halfway through the second book, I overheard a 10-year-old boy next to me say, “Dad she has that Rick Riordan book I wanted!” and I, feeling absolutely zero shame in sharing enthusiasm for Mr. Riordan with someone at least 15 years younger than me, told him the series was extremely good and that he should read it right away. We then discussed the Percy books versus the movies (the books are so much better, obviously), and I was so taken with the kid I almost offered him my copy of the first Kane book. But I figured my loving wonderful boyfriend would not appreciate me giving away his work perks to another man. (Right, babe?)
Book 1: The Red Pyramid
We begin with young Carter Kane traveling to London with his father to pick up his sister Sadie for their annual Christmas celebration. Since losing their mom several years ago, Carter has been traveling the world with his archaeologist father while Sadie has been living with their grandparents in London. The family ends up at the British Museum, where the two children witness their father blowing up the Rosetta stone and “releasing” five Egyptian gods (Isis, Horus, Osiris, Set and Nephthys) into the mortal world. (A bit shocking for the kids.) Set, basically the Hades of Egypt except more evil, traps Carter and Sadie’s dad in a coffin and disappears, leaving the 12- and 14-year-olds devastated by losing another parent and utterly confused as to how it happened.
Carter and Sadie are then reunited with their long lost Uncle Amos, who takes them to his “Nome” in Brooklyn to explain their unique family heritage and how it relates to the Egyptian gods. In a nutshell: The gods are still very much around, and there are magicians trained in the forces of ancient Egypt who very much oppose the gods’ existence in the modern world. Some of these magicians are actually related to pharaohs, and Carter and Sadie are two such magicians now with the added bonus of Horus and Isis partially inhabiting their minds after the explosion at the museum. As it turns out, Set wants to take over the world, and it’s up to Carter and Sadie to stop him. Through a series of quests, and with the help of Uncle Amos and other new magical friends, the kids succeed in stopping Set, but along the way they unveil a greater evil attempting to rise: Chaos itself, the serpent Apophis.
Book 2: The Throne of Fire
After realizing Set was only the beginning of their problems, Carter and Sadie gather forces — other children who are “blood of the pharaohs” — at their new home in Brooklyn. They train their new friends to “follow the path of the gods”, a practice forbidden by most other magicians because they believe gods only bring destruction to the mortal world. Alas, Carter and Sadie must now fight some of their fellow magicians while searching for a way to prevent Apophis from rising and destroying everything and everyone.
Of course, there’s no easy way to prevent the most evil possible thing from rising, but there is one hope for defeating it once has risen: awakening Apophis’ greatest enemy, Ra, the Sun God and first divine pharaoh. Ra has been on sabbatical for, oh, a few millenia, and when he wakes up he’s not quite himself. While on the various adventures required to complete the awakening of Ra, and other side adventures to rescue some friends in danger, the Kane siblings discover an extraordinarily dangerous way to destroy Apophis once and for all. But naturally, as these things go, to attempt this would be to sacrifice their own lives.
Book 3: The Serpent’s Shadow
At the start of the third and final book, Apophis has been temporarily defeated but only one part of him came back to life. (Ancient Egyptians believed in five parts of the soul, so Apophis still had four to go.) Meanwhile, an entire legion of magicians has declared war on Carter, Sadie, Amos and all their trainees because they are working with the gods. Speaking of which, all of the gods are also upset with the Kanes because they brought back a less-than-capable Ra, and they still have to protect and serve him even though he resembles a nursing home patient in both appearance and mental capacity. Not to fret, though; Carter and Sadie have a plan. The plan is a never-been-done-before spell that could bring about the destruction of all gods, not just Apophis, but it’s the only plan they’ve got.
I will stop there because I really want to leave you with a sense of suspense as well as a strong desire to read these books. Seriously, everyone, just pick up the Percy books and then these and just READ THEM. NOW. They are so much fun and so full of adventure, they almost make you feel like a kid again. In the best possible way.