Review: Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Topic: Book Review
Date: 06/03/2010

With The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1), Rick Riordan takes his readers along on another fantastic journey through ancient myth; though, unlike his Greek mythology series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians, this series (The Kane Chronicles) deals with ancient Egyptian mythology. Like his first series, The Kane Chronicles centers on “special” youths who discover they are the unwitting heirs, by blood, of great, primeval power. A teenage boy, Carter, and his younger sister, Sadie, are thrust together after spending a lifetime apart. They are tasked not only with finding their father and saving his life, but also with saving all of humankind in the meantime. On their journey, they learn the history and secrets of their budding powers, and meet ancient characters, reborn, such as Anubis, Nut, Bast, and many other gods, goddesses, and magicians alike. Some are helpful, some are indifferent, and many are out to destroy them.

The Good: 
The Red Pyramid is more reminiscent to me of Book 5 in the Percy Jackson series, The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5). It seems much more developed, and is much longer, than most of the books in the Percy Jackson series and like the Greek storyline, this first book in the Egyptian tales seems well-researched and creatively developed. The pace is fast enough to make you want to churn the pages, but not so fast that you get lost in the thick of it. Characters are distinguishable from one another (a criticism of mine in the Percy series) and, though the tale is fantasy, the majority of plot developments and story movements seem somehow feasible. I had not encountered ancient Egyptian mythology in some time (since the 6th grade) so this was a pleasant surprise – many of the names and stories I did remember, but this book helped remind me of the timeline, the rise and fall of the civilization itself, and the many myths that went with it. As someone who enjoys learning while being entertained in my reading, Rick Riordan never seems to fail me. After finishing the novel and being delighted by the story, you begin to realize that you actually picked up quite a bit of informative, educational substance along the way.

The Bad:
One major complaint is the recycling of a certain plot device throughout the novel. Two or three times, a major scene was driven by one mechanism which, while typically a welcome cliché in any action/fantasy novel, gets to be a bit tiresome when overused within the same story. I also find that Riordan’s novels always seem to take place over a period of days; the heroes are given 72-hours or a week to accomplish some extraordinary task, having at the time only just discovered their powers, and yet somehow they manage. Yes, this is fantasy, but a certain amount of realism, even in young adult fiction, would certainly serve to strengthen the overall story. I find no reason why, for instance, this first novel, being 500+ pages in length, could not have spanned at least a few weeks, or a few months. Why not separate the “Chronicles” into seasons, for instance, or years? As readers of fantasy should be well aware, after the recent and historic successes of Rowling’s Harry Potter series, when characters and stories develop over longer periods of time, the series tends to work well. So, what’s the rush?

The Final Verdict: 4.5 out of 5.0
Overall, I found this novel exhilarating and educational. I was a huge fan of Riordan’s first series, and I think I may even have enjoyed this first of the Kane Chronicles even more. I was not expecting so much from Egyptian mythology, probably because I was less familiar with it. If, like in the Percy Jackson series, each book improves upon the last, then I have very high expectations for this series as a whole.

Published by Hyperion, 2010
Edition: 1st Ed.
ISBN-13: 978-1423113386
Challenges: N/A
YTD: 28
Source: Owned Copy
Rating: 4.5/5.0

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