I can no longer remember in detail my initial impressions of the first book of The Kane Chronicles, The Red Pyramid, which I read last some time ago, but I do vaguely remember thinking that that book did not quite hold up to the standard that Riordan set with Percy Jackson. I think then that I assigned blame to my greater knowledge of Greek versus Egyptian myth and the unfamiliarity and incurred trials to the tape recording style of The Kane Chronicles.
I can hardly, with these vague memories, be called upon to compare the two books of the series, but I did find myself thinking, as I read the second book, The Throne of Fire, that this book had succeeded more fully than The Red Pyramid in capturing my attention. Partially, I think that Riordan has better mastered the tape recording style. There are still asides, Sadie still gloats about having the microphone, but these do not interrupt the flow of the book and seem natural (not to say that they did not seem so in The Red Pyramid; I am now commenting solely on my impressions of The Throne of Fire).
As ever, in The Throne of Fire, Riordan is a master of adapting ancient mythology to a modern world and of humor. Sadie and Carter, the Kane siblings, as well as those that surround them—trainees, mentors (particularly Bes, the dwarf god), and enemies—are all believable. I think Riordan has particularly succeeded with the love-struck Carter, let down by his parents and determined not to make the same mistakes that they did, even to the point of letting down his sister and the world.
I have little complaint with The Throne of Fire and what complaints I do have are that it has made me question some of the underlying ideas of Riordan’s writing—namely, why are the gods of death so compelling and so frequently the only ones who know what’s up? Though I notice on reflection that this book lacks the rug-out-from-under-my-feet twist that is a staple of most of Riordan’s books (Percy Jackson at least certainly). Was I perhaps not as caught up in the plot as I thought I was? Or knowing that I lack knowledge of Egyptian mythology was I not trying as hard to guess?
My highest compliment to it is this:
I was reading this book simultaneously with J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Even among such hefty and worthy company, there were times that I preferred to lose myself in Riordan’s mythology instead of Tolkien’s (albeit this was mostly when I knew that I was coming upon frightening scenes of Black Riders before bedtime or during extended journeys without much danger to break the monotony). Now, Tolkien is a master—there’s no denying that—but sometimes his long journeys across the face of Middle Earth are just not as compelling as a four-day deadline to do the impossible or face the end of the world and the death of all those whom you love. For quests and adventure on a deadline, I know no one better than Riordan.
Riordan, Rick. The Kane Chronicles, Book Two: The Throne of Fire. New York: Hyperion-Disney, 2011.
Riordan, Rick. The Kane Chronicles, Book One: The Red Pyramid. New York: Hyperion-Disney, 2010.
This review is not endorsed by Rick Riordan, Hyperion Books, or Disney. It is an independent, honest review by a reader.