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

Common Sense Media says

More end-of-times excitement with a heavy dose of humor.





What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

Parents say

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Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Rick Riordan
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Hyperion Books for Children
Publication date:May 1, 2012
Number of pages:416
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 11

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  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
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Learning ratings

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Teen, 15 years old Written bygilly_boy June 29, 2012

I don't think this is over.

As titled, not yet at least. This is still a good book, although Sadie kinda of over does the drama a bit. She just kept fussing that the two guys she likes have merged and that didn't make much sense to me. If they're now same person, you should be happy that you don't have to chose. Carter's girl trouble made a little more sense when Ra showed up (yeah, read the book near the end). I still don't think this is over, because their died mom said that there are rival gods and magic so I have this weird suspicion that Riordan may combine Roman/Greek/(or the Norse because Riordon said that he was planning something since they are his favorite I think) (I have no idea which) and Egypt. I only think that because I think they had invaded Egypt at some point in history so it kinda makes sense in my point of view. But that's my prediction (that I'm betting to be completely wrong) but only time will tell. BTW on, there are some ideas of what might happen, so check it out!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byAwalkeratCSM July 10, 2012

Don't get overwhelmed by how much I wrote, but be a little overwhelmed by the disappointment

I remember when this novel hit the bookstore shelves, tooting the horn of number one bestseller at "Barnes and Noble" (for only a few days), and radiating an epic conclusion on the slick, flashy paper cover of the hardcovers that sat in stacked droves at nearly every store that had business selling the works of big named authors, such as our beloved, comical author Rick Riordan. In the past, he often provided me with a secretly thoughtful, faintly emotional, and always welcome comic-relief in between loads of homework and blessed sleep in the evenings. And now, in this final installment to this popular series, that seems to be all he is in writing this novel: a simple comic relief, an envisioner of a story where two protagonist siblings work together, and won't seem to grow from their tempestuous relationship into a recognizable bond, to save the world from a traditionally scary, super evil villain. Oh! I am so thrilled, so scared of what will happen! I am so biting me nails right now! Yeah right. Sorry Mr. Riordan, I can tell that you put a lot of time into this detailed, myth engrossed novel; however, cocky, loyal Percy from your series centered around Greek mythology seriously makes so-so geeky Carter Kane vertically challenged. Not to mention the heroic, romantic myths from ancient Greece clearly boot uninteresting Egyptian mythology out of the spotlight, complete with the inability to remember but a few names in Egyptian mythology. I sometimes wondered if this whole series came about from the engaging and persistent urging of an editor as a way to put more of Riordan's hilarious, action-packed, and engaging works and ideas out into the market. If it was, it's clear to see why. The books felt heartless, with little emotional connection between the author and the descriptions. The times there were, it was a relief, like a picture's details and colors coming back into focus with more detail than expected before. The story itself seemed to be heard many times before (bad guy want to destroy/take over the world, good guys come to stop him and do, anyone?) so it seemed sometimes that it was a waste of time reading the novel because I already knew from the clearly predictable pattern that Carter and Sadie were going to get out alive, with all their friends safe and happy, and that the bad guy would get blasted into oblivion, never to rise again. I guess the main reason I kept reading was to know how they would stop our beloved bad guy Apophis, a big, red snake who wants to swallow the sun. The characters were okay, one of the better parts of the book. Favorite characters of mine to earnestly watch for are Thoth, the eccentric god of knowledge, slimy Setne, and and hardworking, self-sacrificing Uncle Amos. I do wish Sadie could grow up a bit more and quit calling her older, stressed brother names, and maybe not try so hard to be caught in a Bella-Jacob-Edward love triangle. When that problem is resolved...well, it's a bit cheezy and too good to be true. Carter seems a bit more mature but I think he needs to work things out with Sadie a bit more. Well, I can't be too hard on him, he and Sadie completed so much at the book's end. I have to admit, the details in how Carter and Sadie Kane, two siblings with Egyptian powers and a need more maturity in their relationship, led the defeat against the might serpent Apophis were pretty interesting and kept you turning the pages. The way in how Riordan wove detailed Egyptian myths into his plot devices was very absorbing, and still fresh, like cool produce right out the garden. That was one of the highlights in this tale, in the whole trilogy even, that I liked: he is still good at weaving mythology into modern day fiction, making even the concepts with the immemorable names interesting. I like how Riordan seemed to appeal to his teenager audience by making them think about the setting of the Land of the Demons and the place where the Sea of Chaos and the source of Mau't was. I found it very thought provoking. It reminded me of "The Lightening Thief" when the protagonist and his friend were walking through the Land of the Dead (Hades) and passing the all that made up that wretched place, contemplating what they saw. I refreshing, mature section towards the end of the novel. Loved it! Even with some glimmers of heart here and there, this novel isn't something I am going to think back on fondly. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I easily forget certain plot points. I have already forgotten a lot about what happened in the earlier books of the trilogy. That hasn't happened with Riordan's other books, specifically in the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series; I remember nearly everything that happens in all of those books, probably because I reread parts of them often (of course, in between heavy course loads and bedtime). This series was, I guess, not that interesting, when it comes to a general point. Besides criticism of the plot and characters, the violence is plentiful but never graphic, language consists of name calling (Sadie is to blame. Sometimes Carter.), and the sexual content is made up of Bella- I mean, Sadie panting for two different boys, Carter thinking about and dating a cute Arabic girl, and a couple of kisses (not described in detail). The usual messages of courage, hard work, and defending what is right and not surrendering to evil, populate the novel. Some brand names are mentioned, but I personally don't think it much about it. I doubt a lot of kids will. This book, I realize, is perfect for kids 9-12, containing all that they like in Riordan's bestseller series: humor, courage, characters with fighting or intellectual abilities, cool settings (with the shelves and fridges stocked with mounds of candy, stacks of sodas, and other cavity-inducing junk food), and Rick Riordan's magical ability to weave aged mythology into modern times, real emotions and feelings, and gripping plots. Even with this disappointment, though very slight, I still admire him for his talented writing. Remember, don't take everything I say to heart, I'm a picky teenage bookworm. I'm sure your preteen will love this book. But, I still worry about how Riordan's rumored Norse mythology series will turn out...
What other families should know
Educational value
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Teen, 14 years old Written byIsis1446 September 2, 2012

Who says school is boring?

Combines education with adventure and action!
What other families should know
Educational value


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