The Woyingi Blog

Book Review: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

This post is under construction.

I recently finished reading The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. This is the first installment in Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles Trilogy.

Rick Riordan, a former Texas school teacher, is best known as the creator of the popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series. This series connected modern day young heroes and heroines with the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece. Riordan’s latest series follows a mixed race brother and sister, Carter and Sadie Kane, as they discover the truth behind their mother’s death, their family’s magical heritage, and the world of the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt.

Reading The Red Pyramid is itself an education in Ancient Egyptian Mythology. As young readers (and quite frankly older readers as well) are not as familiar with the myths of Ancient Egypt as they are with those of Ancient Greece, Riordan had to meet the challenge of writing a novel that is engaging for young readers but also informative. In an interview with The Seattle Times in 2010, Riordan expressed surprise that no other author had attempted to create a children’s book based on the fact that Ancient Egypt has the oldest school of magic in the world.

I was initially drawn to the book when I discovered that its central characters were mixed race. Riordan has stated that: “Egypt straddles civilizations — African civilization and Western civilization. I wanted to capture the sense that Egypt is a multicultural society, and that its African culture is part of African-American heritage.” This is definitely the sort of book that would make many of my Egypt-obsessed Afrocentric friends happy but what I must commend Riordan for is creating two mixed race characters who are allowed to express the identity conflicts that being mixed race creates for them. As Riordan states: “At a time when kids are searching for their identity, when you add race to it, it’s a big challenge.”

Carter Kane, 14, is visibly more “African” than his sister Sadie, who takes more after their English mother. Sadie Kane, 12, is light-skinned with carmel coloured hair and blue eyes. Since her mother’s death, she was sent to live with her English grandparents in England, whereas Carter continued to live with their African American father. The fact that the siblings are virtual strangers and don’t even look like siblings creates many challenges for them in the book.

Egyptian Gods and Goddesses that appear in the novel are:

Set, the main villain of the story, is the God of the desert, storms, darkness and chaos.

Horus, the God of War and Hunting. Carter wears an amulet of the Eye of Horus given to him by his father as protection. Carter is unknowingly hosting Horus.

Isis, the Goddess of Magic and Fertility. Sadie is unknowlingly hosting Isis.

Anubis, God of Funerals and Mummification. Anubis is depicted in the book as something of an Edward Cullen wannabe. He is pale, handsome, and brooding. Sadie is infatuated with him and he seems to be also attracted to her. What’s with girls today and dead boys?

Thoth, the God of Wisdom. He is portrayed in the book as an eccentric University Student. We also learn that he is the God of Baboons which, in Ancient Egypt, were considered to be very intelligent animals.

Bast, Goddess of Cats. Bast is the protector of Sadie. She has been living in Sadie’s cat Muffin since being realized from her battle with Apophis by Julius and Ruby Kane.

Nut, Goddess of the Sky. She is the mother of Set, Osiris, and Isis.

Geb, God of the Earth. He is the father of Set, Osiris and Isis.

Serqet, Goddess of Healing Bites and Stings, in the book she is portrayed as a villain and the Goddess of Scorpions.

Sobek, God of the River and Crocodiles.

Hathor

Other concepts from Ancient Egyptian Mythology:

Per Ankh, House of Life.

Duat, the Underworld.

Ma’at, Order, Truth and Justice.

Apophis, Chaos.

Further Reading:

First Chapter of The Red Pyramid available online

Interview with Rick Riordan about The Red Pyramind in The Seattle Times

The Kane Chronicles’ Website

Rick Riordan’s Website

Egyptian Legend: Apophis in the Duat

BBC Archive: Chronicle: The Key to the Land of Silence: How the Rosetta Stone translated ancient Egypt to the modern world.

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