Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review of Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid

Along with lots of Riordan fans, I eagerly awaited the debut of his new series The Kane Chronicles. The first book is The Red Pyramid.

As with his Percy Jackson series, Riordan introduces modern day characters with ties to an ancient civilization and mythology. In The Red Pyramid, siblings Carter and Sadie find out they have the blood of Egyptian pharaohs and are descended from powerful Egyptian magicians. How they come to terms with this is spread out over the course of the plot as they scramble to save their father, uncle and themselves from Egyptian gods long forgotten but brought back to life and now focused on destroying the world.

Riordan’s combination of action and Egyptian mythology keeps the story moving along with a couple of mummies. Readers shift back and forth between today’s world and ancient Egypt easily enough, but other concerns distracted me.

The story is told from the point of view of Carter and Sadie. To accomplish this, Riordan alternates viewpoints every two chapters. Even halfway through, I still found myself unable to remember which character was telling the story. Thankfully, at the top of each right-hand page was the name of the current storyteller.

Another concern is the lack of information on Egyptian mythology to let readers become familiar with the many gods and customs. Unlike Greek mythology which is taught in some degree is schools usually through Greek literature, Egyptian mythology is not well known. It is only through my research over the last year of Egyptian mythology and life that I understood the terms ba and maat which play major roles in the story.

Riordan does his young readers a disservice by not helping them understand this fascinating culture. I understand wanting to encourage readers to branch out and learn new ideas, but this may backfire and turn readers away.

Hopefully, Riordan’s loyal followers will give him another chance to engulf them in Egyptian mythology. I await the next book with that hope in mind.