Tuesday, 12 July 2011

CBR3 Book 51: "The Red Pyramid" by Rick Riordan

Publisher: Puffin
Page count: 544 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: June 25th, 2011
Date finished: June 29th, 2011

In the course of last year, I read the entirety of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, where young Percy Jackson finds out that he is a demi-god and son of the Greek god Poseidon. He and several of his friends, who are either demi-gods or other mythological beings, go on many adventures and quests, usually to save the world from destruction.

Rick Riordan has clearly found a winning formula, and if it ain't broke, he ain't gonna fix nothing. Having successfully sold millions in a series based on Greek mythology, he gleefully takes on Egyptian myth in his new series, this time with two new, young protagonists, siblings Carter and Sadie Kane. Carter has travelled the world with his father, famous archeologist Dr. Julius Kane, while after a very bitter custody hearing after Mrs. Kane's death, Sadie has been raised in London by her grandparents. She only sees her father and brother twice a year, for a day at a time. The kids are mixed race, with Sadie apparently taking after her blonde, English mother (i.e looking Caucasian), while Carter looks like his African American dad.

It's just before Christmas, Carter and his dad are in London to see Sadie, and Dr. Kane drags both his children to the British Museum, acting very shifty all the while. Once in there, he proceeds to blow up the Rosetta Stone with magic, releasing all sorts of trouble in the process. Suddenly everything Sadie and Carter thought they knew is turned on its head. They find out that both their parents are from ancient bloodlines with strong magical abilities, that in trying to right a great wrong, their father accidentally released five Egyptian gods, including Set, god of Chaos, and that they have approximately six days to set everything right, or the world might get destroyed.

So, new mythology, new protagonists, same old quest narrative. I read the Percy Jackson books over the course of a whole year, and didn't really feel that they became quite as repetetive as this book did. It was entertaining, and Riordan really does integrate some pretty complex mythological facts in his adventure books for teens. The Egyptian pantheon and mythology is, in my mind, quite a bit more complicated than the Greek, yet Riordan integrates it very well. The narration changes between Carter and Sadie, and over the course of the book we get to know both characters well. There's very few quiet moments, it jumps from dangerous situation to dangerous situation, in ever changing locations - London, New York, Cairo, Paris and so forth. There's a clear time limit, and the kids are under a lot of pressure. I would have liked some of the book to calm down from its breathless pace, but all in all, it wasn't bad, and I will look out for the next book in the series, especially to see if Sadie's crush on the hunky Anubis goes anywhere.


  1. "Hunky Anubis"?! I probably won't read this book, but I kind of want to now! Modern interpretations of Egyptian history/culture/myth are really, really interesting to me. When you boil down thousands of years and hundreds of local traditions into one pantheon, you make a lot of decisions about what's accessible and interesting to modern audiences--Hathor doesn't play that well these days, sadly, though she's one of my favorite goddesses. And Ma'at, she's great. It seems like the most popular gods nowadays are the ones you get in New Kingdom tomb paintings. Which gods get the most page-time in The Red Pyramid?

  2. Yeah, Anubis is described as a darkly brooding and totally hunky teenager. Sadie Kane is only 12, so he's a bit older than her, but there's absolutely something there.

    The gods who get the most "screen-time" in Red Pyramid are Set, Bast, Isis and Horus. Osiris is mentioned a whole lot, but isn't a main part of the story. Geb, Nut, Thoth, Sekhmet, Sobek and Nephtys also make appearances. Over the course of the Percy Jackson books, Riordan managed to mention pretty much everything and everone significant in Greek mythology and incorporate it in creative ways into the story, so I bet he'll be doing much the same with Egyptian myth in these books. He explains things very well, and I hope it makes new generations interested in the mythologies behind the stories.

  3. That's really interesting--sounds like he did his research. It's interesting that Bast gets so much attention these days, given that she's an incredibly minor goddess. But I think everyone loves the idea of a cat goddess. They act regal enough as it is. :)