A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is the second book in Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles series, which weaves ancient Egyptian history into the modern world. Kids will definitely need to read the first book, The Red Pyramid, to keep up with all the Egyptian gods and terminology presented here. Expect about the same level of fantasy violence as the first book -- lots of battles, no real gore, and lots of humor to break the end-of-the-world tension. The main characters, Carter and Sadie, were admirable in the first book and are even more so here as they take on roles as mentors for other young magicians and grapple with how to do what's right, even if it's the more difficult choice.
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What's the story?
It's almost the end of the world. Again. But in this installment of the Kane Chronicles series, it's a battle between the force of chaos -- the giant snake Apophis, who's about to break out of his prison -- and the Ma'at, or order. Brother-sister team Carter and Sadie are convinced that the best way to fight Apophis is by waking the sun god, Ra. But first they have to find three torn parts of a scroll to work the spell, recover Ra's boat in the Duat, and, of course, find Ra himself, who retired eons ago. All this by the spring equinox, just days away. But the House of Life isn't convinced that Ra is the one who will save the day and is threatening to come after Carter, Sadie, and all their new magic students training in Brooklyn. Some of the gods aren't gung-ho about Ra's return either -- and of course it's always the scary ones with big teeth and claws who are ready to pick a fight.
Is it any good?
Sadie and Carter's world may be ending -- a common theme in many fantasy books these days -- but they really are in for a fun ride, and so are readers. If our summary of the book's plot didn't make sense, readers will definitely want to re-read The Red Pyramid and check out the handy glossaries in the back of THE THRONE OF FIRE (thank goodness they're included this time!). With the complex story set-up out of the way already, Throne of Fire gets right to the action. It digs into life in Brooklyn, with new recruits in training, and is filled with adventures that mix gods and mortals, world travel via portal, pyramid and museum pillaging, and inventive combat magic.
Riordan's wit is in top form here, introducing a new protector god who's irreverent to say the least (not spoiling the surprise). To say nothing of the funny chapter headings (such as "A Birthday Invitation to Armageddon") and the teasing brother-sister banter as Sadie and Carter take turns narrating. And, as always, the brilliant author manages to work a little educational material into a great summer beach read.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what drew them to this series. Is it because of author Rick Riordan? How does this series compare to the Percy Jackson books?
A popular theme with many big fantasy series is the end of the world. Why do you think that is? Why do you think authors enjoy playing with that idea -- and why are readers interested in it?
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