To be absolutely honest, I’m having conflicted feelings toward how I feel with this series. The Kane Chronicles is an interesting series with a fascinating perspective on the relationship between humans and gods. But it’s a story that is being severely hampered by the method in which it’s being written. While I like The Kane Chronicles #2 – The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan and the story it’s trying to tell, there’s a glaring problem with how it’s written.
Continuing Carter and Sadie Kane’s adventure in saving the world, the two start training new initiates and introduce additional side characters to the story. The strange part about this is that the side characters are the ones where the reader doesn’t know their fate and therefore there’s more risk and drama. Again the story is told in a recounting of past events which means we know that Carter and Sadie, once again, survive the story and are still together at the end. It just deflates any sense of tension and drama that Carter and Sadie face. Unfortunately it creates this sense of indifference towards whatever happens to those two despite the reader spending the entirety of the story through their perspective.
Because the fate of Carter and Sadie is already defined, the supporting cast of characters take the brunt of emotional connection for the reader. The reader doesn’t know if they’re going to be ok which makes any moments involving them far more dramatic and interesting to read. But it runs into a problem where these characters aren’t the focus of the story, they just happen to be there helping the protagonists. It results in this weird situation where, when half of the book doesn’t involve the side characters, the tension in the story just deflates as the reader knows that Carter and Sadie will be ok.
Despite the story being told in essentially a flashback, The Throne of Fire is an engaging and interesting story despite what we know happens to Carter and Sadie in the end. It might be since the story feels far more plot driven than character driven as they’re being guided essentially by prophecy, other characters’ guidance, and dreams (a Rick Riordan classic trope really). Most of the time a plot driven story is not preferable to a character driven story and this story does suffer from the problems of a plot driven story but has it’s redeeming moments.
There are moments that occur in the story that don’t feel right based on what we know about Carter and Sadie. At first I justified it in my mind because they’re teenagers and they’re emotional but when I really thought about it I realized that doesn’t quite work. Carter and Sadie have proven, in the previous book, that both characters are goal oriented and understand the risks and what it means for their world and especially what they’re family has sacrificed. To know that and to see them be reckless and cause drama knowing how they’ll be in the end feels so hollow.
The Throne of Fire dives deeper into Egyptian mythology and, especially as someone who loves mythology, it’s hard not to love and appreciate the effort made to reference the mythos more. The inclusion of more gods of Egypt and, more importantly, how they interact and think of one another really helps to flesh out the mythical part of The Kane Chronicles. The story goes farther in-depth than the other series that Riordan has written since the gods’ take a far more active roll in the story. There’s even some tension and what feels like a potential side plot to consider which makes it far more interesting.
Honestly it’s becoming quite awful to know that Carter and Sadie survive at the end and still have a somewhat jovial attitude based on how they introduce each chapter. It’s impossible not to have that smacked in the reader’s face each time as each chapter begins with that. The fact that there are plot points even suggesting the possibility that Carter and Sadie could die falls completely flat as we already know how the story ends for them.
While the glaring problems with the transcript style story can’t be ignored, the rest of the book is written quite well. In those brief moments where the reader forgets how the story ends, the way the story is written is quite enthralling. There are moments of tension and drama that feel intense and action packed with writing that flows smoothly within each chapter. Unfortunately this doesn’t carry over from chapter to chapter as each chapter is introduced by one of the Kane siblings.