Kane Chronicles #2: The Throne of Fire

The Throne of Fire Book Cover The Throne of Fire
Kane Chronicles
Rick Riordan
Young Adult
Hyperion Books
May 3, 2011
Hardcover
452

Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven't given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians.

And now their most threatening enemy yet - the chaos snake Apophis - is rising. If they don't prevent him from breaking free in a few days' time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it's a typical week for the Kane family.

To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. But that would be a feat more powerful than any magician has ever accomplished.

First they have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly?

Narrated in two different wisecracking voices, featuring a large cast of new and unforgettable characters, and with adventures spanning the globe, this second installment in the Kane Chronicles is nothing short of a thrill ride.

 

Warning: This review will contain minor spoilers regarding The Red Pyramid. As this is the second book in the trilogy, it is assumed you have picked up the first one before looking at The Throne of Fire.

While The Red Pyramid can be viewed as a self-contained adventure, the book’s ending sets up the events for The Throne of Fire by introducing the true villain of the Kane Chronicles and giving our heroes one seemingly unlikely way that, against all odds, just may stop that dastardly fellow from destroying the world. In that sense, the Kane Chronicles is very much like the Heroes of Olympus. There are a series of small adventures that can be viewed as independent, but they bleed together for a much great plot. Likewise, this series bounces between protagonist viewpoints. The similarities between the two series may be due to Rick Riordan writing them both at the same time.

Plot-wise, this book is classic Riordan. Something bad is going to happen, the heroes are aware of one thing that will supposedly work but is unlikely to work against the villain (but we know it will totally work because this is a children’s book so it probably will not end with, “And then the bad guy wins. The End!”), and they must go on a quest to obtain said item. Whereas the Camp Half-Blood books had prophets to send people on quests, the characters in this book know what to do because large portions of Egyptian mythology cover what will happen during the end of days. And when that does not cover it a god/goddess pops up and conveniently helps, Cheshire Cat style. Despite all these similarities there are a few key differences between the books that mix things up a little bit.

The largest change is the powers of the child protagonists. In the Camp Half-Blood books, the kids are demi-gods; their godly parents determine what superhuman abilities they have. And “superhuman” is not an exaggeration. The Campers frequently survive things that send a normal person to <insert Riordan-verse afterlife here>. Characters in the Kane Chronicles are magicians; aside from the ability to use magic, they are normal human beings. They can get hit on the head by a rock or face any other number of deaths just like a normal person. The upsides, however, are that monsters are not constantly hunting and the versatility of magic. Most of the Kane Chronicles magicians choose a certain type of magic to specialize in, but learning pretty much any magic they want seems to be fair game (as opposed to having strict abilities you are born with like the demigods).

One of the big issues the Kane Chronicles faces is the time restriction. Egyptian mythology is fairly complicated, significantly more so than Greek and/or Roman mythology, and it feels like this trilogy only has enough space in its pages to talk about the absolute most important bits that are relevant to the story Riordan is telling. The storytelling itself also feels too spot on for how it is supposedly being presented. Like in The Red Pyramid, The Throne of Fire is told through a tape recording of Carter and Sadie retelling the tale of their adventure after the fact. Most people, short of individuals with photographic memory or a similar condition, could not remember the level of detail or fully recite all of these conversations word-for-word like this. Similar to The Red Pyramid, this book is not a bad children’s story but it just does not hold up to Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

February 21, 2016

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