on 9 May 2012
Ok, so being an original fan of the Percy Jackson books, it took me a while to warm to the Kane chronicles, but by the end of the first book I loved Sadie and Carter and I love them even more now.
These books aren't just adventurous and a hugely entertaining lesson on Egyptian mythology but they are also laugh out loud funny.
The relationship between Carter and Sadie continues to go from strength to strength and as for Carter's relationship with Zia and Sadie's with Walt and Anubis...well I'm not saying a word. Lets just say it isn't all fun and games.
The bad guys are just as evil as in the last book though it quickly becomes clear that there is no black and white with regards to some of choices made and with whom the Kane's have to place there trust. With all the original evil doers and now with a bunch of new ones, the Kanes find themselves sorely tested.
However you read into this book and whatever you take away from it. If you've read the others in the series, if you love butt-kicking action, laugh out loud humour and dash of romance then this is a book not to be missed!
on 17 August 2012
I just do not know where to start...so I'll go with pure, raging writer's envy! I, plus six assorted godchildren (who will butt in with their opinions in a minute, when I've got the boring grown-up raving-about-this out of the way) were left close to speechless by this third Kane instalment. It just kicked straight in with Riordan's trademark dead-pan-humour-scare-you-silly cocktail, and then it just flew. It's an extraordinary gift - ask any writer - to balance turbo-boosted action, compassion for the innocent and the hurt, with laugh-till-you-need-the-Heimlich dialogue and daftness. Millions try to write like this, but it takes someone really at the top of the game to make it look easy. You just keep on reading, knowing you're going to be swept along, breathless, and you'll never be tripped up by a dud scene. When I say this is 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' level wonderful, that's my highest praise. Buffy really is a work of genius. This book is an out-and-out joy.
And that's exactly what you feel, reading it - almost laughing at how instantly hooked in you are. Kane 3 is the-best-way-ever-to-spend-your-time fun and excitement, right to the last word.
But that's not what lifts this to Joss Whedon's Olympian heights. What makes all Riordan's books instant classics is heart. Huge, good-humoured understanding - and gentle teasing - of just how teens tick, and all they really care about most. I've had my godchildren on the phone practically yelling at me to get a move on and finish the books, so they can rave on about them for hours. Carter and Sadie - they've grown into exactly who they were meant to be, how we wanted them to be. They are one of the best realised siblings in YA/children's literature. They fight, they sulk, they mock, they try to outdo and outsmart one another, but not for one second do you doubt that they would die for each other. Quite literally die, given the overwhelming peril in this story. And all this holds true for their friends. It's just such a great message to the age-group who are meant to get addicted to these books - loyalty, friendship, reliable back-up...and the odd elbow-pinch or shin-kick or sarky aside, because this is what younger sisters do best.
So now for the Brit-flavoured praise. Sadie, total London girl! Attitude, humour, vocabulary. The only time I thought maybe a bit of Brit-slang was misused, I was told by the kids that it was I who was wrong! (For future reference, my infants, I could have done without quite so much 'Duh!'). Seriously, Mr Riordan, you take Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee Victoria sponge with jam and Cornish cream prize - and as for how you have Sadie employ iconic British comestibles...that was the point where I choked on a Gummi Bear and wheezed for help.
And please tell us that you had as much fun writing this as we've had reading and talking about it. There was one scene in particular - when one of your most loveable characters came good in the least good of places - when I know you were surfing the hugest wave yet, and owned it! Doesn't happen often, for any writer, I suspect, but when someone hits 'the zone', it shines out brighter than the Sun Boat.
Now for the opinions that actually matter...
1) Allegra (aged 12) says the way the Walt/Anubis arc played out was perfect. It had enough muddle, and awkwardness, and required so much growing up on their part, it felt really truthful. Allegra also said the hints at the end really made her hope there will be more of the Kanes...please, please, please. She is willing to grovel. Abjectly. Whatever it takes.
2) Giacomo (aged 7) is totally in love with one turkey-junkie griffin and would be happy to take him off your hands. He also loves the cookie-crazy Sun God, Khufu and the O-foods, and how super-spooky things can be in the Duat. He - well, we all - have really enjoyed finding out about Egyptian mythology; not as familiar as the great Greek tales but just as fascinating. Also, penguins rock!
3) Lucie (aged 14) felt spoiled for choice, really, with the tangling stories of so many well-rounded characters, but most loved the outcome for one sweet, stiletto-heeled hippo. Luce has also pretty much cast the film in her head - please someone get hold of DB Woodside & Jeffrey D Sams for Amos and Julius Kane. I (old enough to know better) very much second this (as any sane female should). Most of all Luce is still haunted by the descriptions of the magic realm. And Anubis and Walt...sigh! (I fully expect to be killed for writing that last bit).
4) Letizia (aged 15) loved that it was simply a fact that Carter is mixed-race African-American, rather than made a big issue. The Kane family together make perfect sense, and the relationships between adults and children are very real, often painful, and, at times, lump-in-throat lovely. As an out-and-proud geek Lettie also enjoyed the home-schooled side of Carter, and how he grew away from it and changed, but not so much as to have left too much of himself behind.
5 & 6!) Xan (10) and Belen (11) just want to say how much they adore (and want to be adopted by) Muffin, and the BOO! guy, and please don't let this be the last we see of them.
But luckily for you all, this is the last from us. From the kids, hero-worship and gratitude, Mr Riordan. From me, a fellow writer's (so-wish-I'd-thought-of-it-first)stunned respect.
I very much enjoyed and admired the Olympians series. Percy Jackson was an engaging character from page one, and he grew and developed nicely from book to book. His companions also grew and developed and became more interesting as the series progressed. I think "Heroes of Olympus" is a worthy follow-up, if only because it affords us some more time with Percy Jackson.
But the three books of the "Kane Chronicles" are something of a mystery. If anything, the characters seem to be moving backwards. In this final volume Sadie has been reduced to a distracted boy-crazy secondary character. Carter is an indecisive out-of-his-depth worrier. Walt's fate, (and he is definitely a secondary character), gets more attention than does the possible end of the world. Bast is hardly there. Many previously important characters hardly appear.
There is an awful lot of here-we-go-again to the action through most of the first half of the book. And there is a lot more of that "I'd explain everything to you except I have to leave right now" that is a poor excuse for maintaining suspense or keeping the plot moving.
Actually I don't think the book really picks up steam until Setne appears, and that is two-thirds of the way through. At least he has a deep store of snappy patter and seems to know what he is doing.
In almost all fantasy for middle graders the thing that makes the books work is the development of the hero - the sense that the kid at the heart of it all will learn and grow and become the hero of his or her own story. Harry Potter does this; Percy Jackson does this; heck, Dorothy in Oz does this. But Carter and Sadie sound, feel and act the same from book to book. In this one they actually seemed overwhelmed by the story - they're always being saved at the last minute by some god, or some unexpected power, or some lucky chance, or by some voice that whispers to them what to do. That's what I mean by the book being out of tune.
Now, all of that being said, it may be unfair to be disappointed just because this book isn't as good as Riordan's best. That is still better than most other books out there. And, at a minimum, there are enough really good set pieces scattered through the book to make it a very worthwhile read and still very entertaining.
on 18 January 2015
Book 3 in Kane Chronicles. Carter and Sadie Kane and their trainees are getting ready to face the god Apophis, Lord of Chaos. They need a special item, hidden in a touring exhibition of Egyptian artefacts on view in a Texas museum. Unfortunately, the Book of Apophis, the fifth and last copy written by the magician Setne is destroyed and there is a massacre, which is blamed on the Kane`s.
The balance between Ma`at and Chaos must be restored, which means Ra the Sun god has to be found and resume his nightly journey through the sky. Bast the cat goddess, who had been bound into Sadie`s cat Muffin,after being freed from her endless battle with Apophis tells them she has asked an old friend to help out while she returns to see how close Apophis is to feeing himself.
Starting their journey in London for Sadie`s birthday, disasters ensue, from possessed grandparents and a stand off on Waterloo Bridge, then a limo ride to St Petersberg with Bes the dwarf god in spedos before the Egyptian Queen barque through the land of the dead passing through each "House" in turn, facing challenges on the way.
Of course things work out, the bad guys get punished and all is well.