Initially I was planning to cover this series after finishing the Harley Merlin series, but after the mysterious disappearance from Kindle and it not being stocked in my local bookstore, I bumped this up the line. I’ve always been a fan of mythology and stories based around the idea of ancient gods and myths. But with Rick Riordan, there was always a little too much silliness I found in his books that felt out of place. But in The Red Pyramid I found the content was really well done and almost perfect save for a really strange writing choice.
The protagonists of The Red Pyramid are none other than Carter Kane and Sadie Kane. The sibling duo makes for an interesting dynamic as they play off of each other very well. Sadie comes off as impatient and hot-tempered while Carter is more timid and passive in their interactions with the world of Egyptian mythology. But as they continue on their quest to save the world, they grow into better version of themselves with the help of the gods and goddesses. The only issue is, while on paper it does look like they’ve grown as characters, it doesn’t quite feel like they’ve really changed from the beginning to the end of the story.
The gods and goddesses were rather interesting compared to what has been seen in the other worlds Riordan has created. The Greek gods always came off as distant and uncaring because of their godly duties even though they may actually care and the Norse gods were just almost entirely silly in their appearances. But here the gods are more active in the story and have far more of a personality that makes them endearing. I found Bast to be my favorite character which and interesting backstory and character (I’m also a cat person, what can I say?).
The supporting cast of characters are far more interesting and endearing than the Kane siblings surprisingly. Each of them help to contribute to the worldbuilding and mystery of magicians and the gods, whose telling the truth, whose trustworthy, and what’s really happening. Part of this is due to a storytelling choice in the writing style that makes the Kane siblings less interesting to care about whereas the side characters become the core of the story’s tension.
It has to be stated from the get go that the story, in a way, is spoiled for the read from the very first chapter. The story and every chapter is told as a recollection of events from Carter and Sadie so, in a sense, you know that those two are going to survive whatever happens in the story. It takes away from the main plot as, in the back of your mind and at the start of each chapter, you’re constantly reminded that this is being told to you by the main characters. It removes whatever tension you might feel for Carter and Sadie because you know, at the end of the day, they survived.
That being said, it’s a bit predictable in a series named after the main characters that they’re likely to survive at least to the very end of the series. That being said, it takes away from what is otherwise a fantastically paced story with lots of twists, turns, questions and fascination. But a lot of this comes more from the supporting cast and the worldbuilding as the story progresses, unravelling a mystery slowly developing as Carter and Sadie discover the truth.
The worldbuilding in The Kane Chronicles might be my favorite so far within all of Riordan’s works. The Greek gods from the Percy Jackson and The Heroes of Olympus series always felt more silly than they should for beings that lived for thousands of years. The gods in Magnus Chase series did accurately reflect how silly and nonsensical the old Norse gods could be and didn’t shy away from some of the more uncommon parts of Norse Mythology. But the Egyptian gods came into the Riordan’s world with far more gravitas and had a more appropriately ancient and divine feeling to them. It was great because it also didn’t sacrifice the comedic and interesting moments the Egyptian gods had.
I think the only part I disagree with was the mischaracterization of Cleopatra and the fall of Egypt. I’m a bit biased as I found the woman to be a fascinating person in history where she was intelligent and captivating, ruling with kindness and authority. If anything, she managed to repair the damage done by her brother and her family. She was more than the frivolous seductress that brought about the ruin of empires. While not breaking to the story, just a small pet peeve I had with the retelling of the history. Not entirely inaccurate but also not quite the correct history.
As to be expected of a practiced and seasoned author, Riordan’s word choice and language used to write The Kane Chronicles was very will done but not quite perfect. Again the choice to have the story told as a retelling of past events ruins the tension the reader would have regarding Carter and Sadie’s fate. It certainly doesn’t help that the tone at the start of each chapter when they’re introducing whose perspective is being shared has a jovial and joking language to it. It actively ruins the tension and excitement that the previous chapter creates, instilling this sense of dissonance between chapters.