© 2010 Rick Riordian
For centuries the gods of Egypt have been removed from the Earth, imprisoned by human magicians in an attempt to put an end to their destructive inter-deity conflicts. But shortly before Christmas, in the British Museum, an archaeologist ended their long exile in an attempt to save the cosmos from ultimate destruction. Freed from the Duat, the shadowy netherworld, five gods -- Osiris, Isis, Horus, Set, and Nepthys -- found new homes in human hosts. Now, their strength growing, the battle between Maat (order, justice, peace) and Chaos could very well destroy the Earth. In the center of this growing storm are two young people, long-separated siblings who become orphans when they lose their father in the opening pages. They will play a pivotal role in the battle to come.
The Red Pyramid begins the Kane Chronicles, Rick Riordian's second fantasy series. While his Percy Jackson and the Olympians brought the Greek gods to life, The Red Pyramid moves to the land of Egypt. Although the essential story is the same -- the god of chaos and death is being naughty, human children who unwittingly possess great divine power are thrown into conflict with him, they brave peril and sarcastic deities to save the Earth from ruin, and.....find out whoops, there's an even bigger threat in the shadows -- the exotic splendor of Egyptian mythology sets The Red Pyramid firmly on its own feet, and even adds to the original Greek series. The Egyptian gods are a fascinating lot, a mixture of familiar human forms and severe predator heads, like falcons and alligators. As alien and exotic as these beings may appear to western readers, the dualistic worldview in which they are grounded will seem familiar: the gods strive to preserve or destroy Ma'at, the cosmic sense of order and justice, against the forces of chaos. This doesn't quite correspond to the good vs. evil view of western society, but it is similar -- and more sensible, from an outside standpoint. Even to a mostly secular mind like mine, our life's energy is poured into the fight against entropy: we create works of art and organized long-lived societies to fight the universal tendency of decay. The conflict of The Red Pyramid thus seems more fundamental than the family squabble between gods and titans that gave the Olympians series its overall arc.
Though the story is mostly familiar, I enjoyed the new setting and characters and will be reading further in the series as I am able. Riordan's odd sense of humor was also a high point.