Thursday, June 2, 2011

REVIEW: The Throne of Fire (The Kane Chronicles Book Two)

Riordan, R.  (2011).  The Throne of Fire.  New York:  Disney-Hyperion Books.

446 pages.

Appetizer:  It's been several months since the events of The Red Pyramid took place.  Sadie and Carter Kane are still living in Brooklyn, they have found other descendants of the pharaohs and are training them.

Things are about to get intense and complicated though (much to Sadie's dismay.  It's her birthday and she just wants one day off).  After the siblings learn that the Apophis, a snake of chaos that will cause the end of the world, is going to be released in five days they and some of their new recruits must find and raise the god Ra in the hopes of maintaining the balance between chaos and order.  Adventures that take the Kane siblings to Russia and Alexandria ensue.

So, it could be the fact that I finished my dissertation, edited it, defended it before a committee and am a few weeks away from graduation, but somehow this book seemed *funnier* to me than Riordan's previous books.  Sure, I know that his other books have humor in them, but The Throne of Fire actually made me giggle from time to time.  Especially the scene involving the magic camels, Katrina and Hindenburg (who was filled with gas like the zeppelin).  And I quote:
"Our camels plodded along.  Katrina tried to kiss, or possibly spit on Hindenburg, and Hindenburg farted in response.  I found this a depressing commentary on boy-girl relationships."  (p. 253)

My biggest criticism of The Throne of Fire is the emphasis on romantic relationships.  Carter is still set on finding Zia, who he is certain will still feel their special connection.  Sadie is torn between the god Anubis and one of the new recruits, sixteen-year-old Walt, who has a dark secret he is trying to hide from Sadie.  These romances are subtle and raise some great tensions in the story, but I felt like I would have preferred it if Sadie and Carter were a couple years older.  (Sadie is thirteen...a little young to be torn between a sixteen-year-old and an immortal god.  A one-sided crush, I would have been fine with--I had a crush on a sixteen-year-old named Sam who I went to Campy Henry with when I was Sadie's age.  I was totally crazy about him.  But here's the thing.  To him, I was still a little kid.  The romances in The Throne of Fire just felt a little too complicated and YA.)

One thing I did notice (and appreciate) was that during Carter and Sadie's many journeys from there...and back there again...was that Riordan tended to summarize a lot of their adventures with brief descriptions of the complicated travel struggles, but without immersing me in yet another lengthy conflict.  If he had included the details of a lot of these trips, the book could have been a couple hundred pages longer.  And I might not have made it through that.

Dinner Conversation:

"Carter here.
Look, we don't have time for long introductions.  I need to tell this story quickly, or we're all going to die.
If you didn't listen to our first recording, well...pleased to meet you:  the Egyptian gods are running around loose in the modern world; a bunch of magicians called the House of Life is trying to stop them; everyone hates Sadie and me; and a big snake is about to swallow the sun and destroy the world."  (p. 1)

"We're going to wake the god Ra," Carter said, as if it was as easy as getting a snack from the fridge.
The trainees glanced at one another.  Carter wasn't known for his sense of humor, but they must've wondered if he was joking.
"You mean the sun god," Felix said.  "The old king of the gods."  (pp. 52-53)

"I looked down at my street clothes.  A sour taste filled my mouth.  Carter and I had a quest to undertake, and it was unlikely we would come back alive.  Another responsibility on my shoulders, another unreasonable demand for me to sacrifice my life for the greater good.  Happy birthday to me."  (p. 59).

"So let me get this straight," Sadie said.  "We break into a heavily guarded Russian national museum, find the magicians' secret headquarters, find a dangerous scroll, and escape.  Meanwhile, we will be eating chocolate."
Bes nodded solemnly.  "It's a good plan.  It might work." (p. 156)

Tasty Rating:  !!!


  1. This book, like the last is told from the points of view of dual protagonists: Carter Kane and Sadie Kane. For kids, this may be a bit daunting, as the switch back and forth involves two distinctly drawn characters with different voices. I like it, because my son, who normally shies away from books with female protagonists, is absolutely willing to read this.

  2. Yay for giving a female protagonist a chance! That's so exciting to hear!



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