Book: The Throne of Fire

"The Throne of Fire" by Rick RiordanEver 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.

Last year, I read through the first Kane Chronicles book in a day. And while, technically, I was also able to finish the second book in a day–that day was split into two parts because of work and other responsibilities. Also, I didn’t enjoy the second book as much as I did the first one.

The Throne of Fire doesn’t immediately pick off after the events of The Red Pyramid. Weeks have passed since then, and our two protagonists are now joined by a few same-age colleagues. And while this development doesn’t detract from the story (the main adventure still mostly comprises of Carter and Sadie, the two protagonists), I’m not sure if I like what had happened. I get that the story is building up to an epic battle and they will need warriors, something akin to what happened in Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian, but does the training of new heroes have to be so similar to Camp Half Blood?

With the first book, I thought it was separate enough from the Camp Half Blood series of books that it didn’t feel like a cheap knock-off. I’m starting to reconsider that stand after reading The Throne of Fire. Because aside from the teens-as-gods formula that made it similar to the Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles now also have semi-ambivalent gods, a dwarf god, a ‘school’ for teen magicians, and a sort-of prophecy that will propel the stories for the rest of the series. Now, I’m thinking The Kane Chronicles is just an Egyptian version of the Percy Jackson series–except this one’s a bit annoying.

I mentioned in my blog post about the first book that I really didn’t like the one-sided conversations that pepper the book as asides by the characters. I mean, I’m fine with the book-as-transcript conceit it is trying to pull off–but do we really need the barbs that Carter and Sadie lobby at each other throughout the book? We get that they are brothers and sisters that like to riff on each other–it’s evident in their characterization whenever they are together. So why do we need the asides?

Overall, The Throne of Fire is just as easy to read as the other mythology-based Rick Riordan books. But if you make me choose, I’d say that the books from the Camp Half Blood series are more interesting than this one–also, they are more fun to read. I’ll probably pick up the next book from this series, but if I have the same feelings as I did with this book, I’ll probably just stick with Camp Half Blood from then on.

As I always say though, this is just my opinion. You can read other people’s thoughts about the book online, like these ones:
The Book Zone
Roof Beam Reader
Good Reads

book: the lost hero

"the lost hero" by rick riordani am beginning to think that rick riordan writes greek/roman mythologies better than he does egyptian.

THE LOST HERO is the longest riordan book i’ve read, so far–but it’s every bit as entertaining as the shortest PERCY JACKSON book. the first novel off a new series that features camp half-blood, this one tells the story of jason, piper and leo; three new demigods who must answer the call of a new prophecy.

if the PERCY JACKSON series was told through the main character, and the KANE CHRONICLES‘s first book was told through the perspectives of a brother-sister tandem, the first book off HEROES OF OLYMPUS tells the story through three points-of-view. and unlike in THE RED PYRAMID (which is the first book off KANE CHRONICLES), the narrative in this book is smoother and less disjointed.

it probably helped that there were no annoying asides. and, as i mentioned before, greek/roman gods really are more mainstream than egyptian gods.

okay, here’s the backgrounder:

jason is a demigod with no memory of who he is, or what he is suddenly doing with two other demigods about to be kidnapped by storm spirits. and unlike other demigods we’ve met already, jason doesn’t seem to be familiar with greek mythology–but he is well-versed in its roman counterpart. also, he speaks latin. and on his first day at camp half-blood, he is given a quest to free a goddess trapped by a new enemy.

that’s the main plot of the story, and it is supplemented by two side stories that feature the other two main characters. piper is a demigod who doesn’t seem to be happy with her famous parents: a movie star and a god, who wouldn’t feel pressured, right? meanwhile, leo is a conflicted demigod who blames his abilities for the death of his mortal parent when he was a child.

unlike THE LIGHTNING THIEF (book 1 of the PERCY JACKSON series) and THE RED PYRAMID, THE LOST HERO doesn’t waste too much time setting things up. and it works for the book because our main protagonist, jason, doesn’t remember a thing. so the things that are brought up that should’ve read as set-up, actually play like integral parts of the plot.

but no book is perfect. THE LOST HERO suffers, i think, from the HARRY POTTER formula: the hero, the loyal friend, and the encyclopedia. do i have to name who’s who? unlike in PERCY JACKSON wherein your hero was flanked by a female warrior and a comic relief, THE LOST HERO‘s team reads a bit too much like harry, ron and hermione at times. the only difference is, in THE LOST HERO, the encyclopedia falls in love with the hero and not the friend.

that said, THE LOST HERO seems to have learned a lot from the mistakes of the PERCY JACKSON series. unlike in THE LIGHTNING THIEF where our characters traveled from one place to the other, and spent way too much time on the road; THE LOST HERO successfully gives our characters a mode of transport that takes them from one point to the other without too much travel time. in this way, the author successfully takes out the lulls that peppered THE LIGHTNING THIEF.

sure, we never actually saw the lulls in THE LIGHTNING THIEF. but in all the traveling they did, did you never wonder what the bad guys were doing? in THE LOST HERO, you got updates of what’s happening with the good guys and the bad guys!

i have to say, finishing THE LOST HERO, i can’t wait to read the next book off the HEROES OF OLYMPUS series: THE SON OF NEPTUNE.