The Red Pyramid: The Kane Chronicles, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Red Pyramid: The Kane Chronicles, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Percy Jackson author tackles more complex Egyptology.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 77 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

A near-constant barage of ancient Egyptian history that can either be glossed over to get to the action or researched further. Stories of numerous gods, of the House of Life, the pyramids, their view of the afterlife (why the Egyptians prefer to live on the East side of the river, for example) -- it's all here. There's lots of vocab to take in: ba, Duat, Ma'at, etc. (A glossary would have been helpful but wasn't included.) There are also trips to the British Museum, Cairo, the Washington Monument, and the American Southwest with accurate facts to go with them.

Positive messages

Standing on your own -- growing up and into your abilities is a big theme. As is accepting loss. Late in the book characters realize that they don't want to repeat the cycles of violence that the Egyptian gods have been replaying for centuries; violence and revenge begets more violence and revenge.

Positive role models & representations

Carter and Sadie are half-black, half-white; Carter looks more like his black father and Sadie like her white mother. Both are raised apart (Sadie in the U.K. with her grandparents, and Carter on the road with his dad). While their differences in appearance and upbringing could come between them they are both very protective of each other, especially in life-threatening situations. Carter and Sadie's parents' motivations for their sudden absences are difficult for them to understand, but they made many sacrifies to pave the way for their children's safety and their futures; eventually Carter and Sadie begin to understand this.


Egyptian gods, monsters, and magicians battle fiercely with wands, swords, etc., with some bloodshed. Sad disappearance of a parent and a guardian, with repeated mention of the disappearance of another parent. Grisly descriptions of monsters out for blood and demons with tools for faces or no skin. There are some scenes in a bleak afterlife with a trip to the place where souls are judged.


Mild flirtations.


Plenty of quick mentions of products, some multiple times like Coke, Cheerios, and Friskies (enjoyed by the cat goddess). Plus, Lexus, Doritos, the Lakers, Twix, Skittles, Oreos, and Mountain Dew. 

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this series is by Rick Riordan, author of the hugely popular Percy Jackson series. While Percy cavorted with Greek gods and half-gods, brother and sister Carter and Sadie come face to face with ancient Egyptian gods, magicians, and god-monsters. There are plenty of battle scenes against gods and monsters that feel very much like fantasy, with a bit of bloodshed, and some scenes in a bleak afterlife. At the beginning of the book Carter and Sadie, who lost their mother a few years before, deal with the disappearance of their father, whom they fear will never return. Carter and Sadie, despite their differences (raised different places, and Carter looks more like his black father while Sadie looks like their white mother), are constantly looking out for each other as they deal with some harsh realities about Egyptian history and their place in it. The audiobook version is read by Kevin R. Free and Katherine Kellgren.

User Reviews

Parent of a 9 year old Written byDeanalhancoc September 14, 2010

Good read, needs a variety of suprised expressions

I liked the book it was a page turner. But I didn't like Sadie using "G**". It wasn't necessary and although this was the only bad word tha... Continue reading
Parent of a 7, 10, and 14 year old Written bybeckyhall May 28, 2010

Rick Riordan, thanks for making my kid a mythology expert!

My 10yo son has been a huge Rick Riordan fan for a couple of years now. He devoured the Percy Jackson series. He was a little leery about the new series - I th... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 20, 2010

An Epic Debuet

I'll admit, I didn't like it as much as the Percy Jackson series. But don't get me wrong, The Red Pyramid is still an exellent book. Riordan hi... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old November 10, 2012

An Amazing Book

This book is an awesome book. It has great educational value, but can be a bit confusing with all the mythology. One thing's for sure, it's certainly... Continue reading

What's the story?

Everything goes wrong when 14-year-old Carter, his Egyptologist father, and 12-year-old sister Sadie go to the British Museum for a private viewing of the Rosetta Stone. Carter and Sadie watch as their dad mysteriously blows the stone apart and gets trapped in a sarcophogus that disappears into the floor. That's when long-lost Uncle Amos helps them escape on a magic boat that whisks them to a Brooklyn mansion in seconds. And that's just the start of magical occurrences that involve ancient Egyptian gods unleashed, magicians from the House of Life who are trying to keep them in check, and Carter and Sadie caught in the middle, desperately trying to channel powers they never knew they had. They have only a few days to figure it all out before the god Set builds a gigantic pyramid in Phoenix and tries to destroy the whole of North America.

Is it any good?

Percy Jackson fans will probably be satisfied, but they have to like ancient history as much if not more than they like god-on-monster action. There are so many gods and their backstories to keep track of, but then that's the history of ancient Egypt: complicated. Now that kids know what a ba is and how to pull things out of the Duat and restore Ma'at, etc., etc., subsequent novels in the series will be an easier read, but this one may take a couple read-throughs to get it all straight.

History lessons aside, this is a fun ride and mostly because Carter and Sadie are such great characters. They also have that signature sardonic wit that Percy was known for. Great one-liners come out of nowhere to lighten the mood when facing all manner of horrible creatures and almost certain death. When they are faced with a scary demon in the underworld it comes out that he's not only Lord of Blood and Wine, but also Lord of Perfume. Sadie asks politely if her brother can have a sample before they sail on.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Carter and Sadie's relationship. Why did Carter envy Sadie's life with their grandparents? Why did Sadie admire Carter's with their father? How did they come to understand each other in the end? How did they complement each other?

  • Families can also talk about ancient Egypt and everything they learned from the book. Do you want to read more about Egyptian gods? Which gods are the most interesting?

  • Families can also talk about what makes great hero characters. What qualities do they share?

Book details

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