The Serpent's Shadow: The Kane Chronicles, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Serpent's Shadow: The Kane Chronicles, Book 3 Book Poster Image
More end-of-times excitement with a heavy dose of humor.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

Builds on knowledge of Ancient Egypt imparted in the first two books in the series, The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire, adding a few new gods to the roster. The Serpent's Shadow also explores the concept of chaos vs. order. There's not as much world travel in this one, but Sadie and Carter still flit from Brooklyn to New York to Cairo and other parts of Egypt.

Positive messages

As in the other books in the series, The Serpent's Shadow emphasizes the importance of bravery, loyalty to friends, and making the difficult, better choice instead of the easy one. Plus Thoth, the god of knowledge, says, "Knowledge of any value can't be given. It has to be sought and earned."

Positive role models & representations

You can't really ask for a better brother-sister team than Sadie and Carter. They're a little snide with each other -- of course -- but are still very supportive and caring. Sadie understands that her brother can be a great leader and sees that he has doubts but helps him succeed. Carter respects how smart Sadie is, and her quick thinking often saves the day. They're both very loyal to friends and fight bravely.


A variety of fantasy violence combines magical spells with combat using various weapons available in Ancient Egypt. Sadie and Carter are in a number of life-and-death situations (made lighter by the author's signature humor), including attacks by a giant bull; being hunted by gods, demons, and evil magicians; almost getting crushed underground and burned by giant fireballs; and more. The big enemy is a really big enemy -- a giant snake of chaos that sucks in souls and divides and conquers. Some sympathetic characters die, some are miraculously brought back, but Carter and Sadie's parents remain in the Underworld (Sadie and Carter are able to visit them, but rarely).


Carter and Sadie each get a couple of kisses from their respective love interests and talk about them often.


Nothing beyond the Britishism "bloody," "blowhard," and "bull" (more punny than anything as they fight a large bull).


A few brands are mentioned, including Gibson guitars, Jelly Babies, and other British candy brands.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

A mention that champagne might be in glasses at a celebration.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Serpent's Shadow is the third book in the Kane Chronicles, in which Rick Riordan, the popular author of the Greek mythology series Percy Jackson, takes on Egyptology. Percy Jackson fans will want to read it, but know that young fantasy lovers should be a little older to tackle it -- at least 10, with some help from parents to keep all of the Egyptian gods and Ancient Egyptian history and mythology straight. There's a big helping of fantasy violence as teen characters fight for their lives but never any truly gory details, and the mood is always lifted with plenty of humor. You couldn't ask for a better brother-sister team than Carter and Sadie, who both exhibit lots of bravery and loyalty while supporting each other and becoming true leaders.

User Reviews

Adult Written bynada A. October 4, 2017


is really good
Parent Written byKiera J September 28, 2017

One of the most suspenseful and funniest books I have ever read!

A funny book that everybody should read! It is told in two points of views, so you don't have to wonder what the story would be if it was told if it was an... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bythecoolkid1 January 4, 2013

Doesn't live up to the first two :(

Its OK i guess but it doesn't live up to the first two books. if you read the first two books and didnt like it,i doubt this will win you over. Rick Riorda... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byIsis1446 September 2, 2012

Who says school is boring?

Combines education with adventure and action!

What's the story?

It's the end of the world yet again, but this time Apophis, god of chaos, means business. He's building up strength, dividing the Egyptian gods and the magicians so they can't fight against him. He's even sucking souls of the dead into his vortex. Can he be stopped? Carter and Sadie Kane, teen leaders of the Brooklyn house of magicians, are doing their best. They've got a crazy plan and only two days to enact it. And they need the help of everyone they can recruit, from an evil magician's ghost who knows Apophis' weakness to a senile sun god prone to randomly shouting \"Cookies!\" to a small pack of kindergartner magician initiates who wield crayons dangerously.

Is it any good?

Author Rick Riordan really has his formula down: Great kid characters + huge challenges + plenty of humor = tons of fun. Oh, and kids are actually learning something, too. THE SERPENT'S SHADOW can't help but be a page-turner, with Sadie and Carter narrating their way through almost-Armageddon. Especially when you get to chapter headings like "'Take Your Daughter to Work Day' Goes Horribly Wrong" and "I Become a Purple Chimpanzee."

Middle schoolers on up will even like the snippets of romance, though Sadie ends up in a rather awkward situation. The series could wrap up nicely here, though Riordan definitely leaves his options open in his lengthier-than-usual wrap-up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they're learning by reading this series. How much did you know about Ancient Egypt before? What parts of Egyptian mythology are similar to Greek mythology? What's vastly different?

  • There are plenty of fantasy and sci-fi books about end-of-the-world scenarios. Why do you think this is a popular topic? Do you like this aspect of the series or something else?

  • What makes Carter and Sadie stand out? Who are your favorite fantasy characters?

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