Jenn's Reviews > The Throne of Fire

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
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May 07, 12

bookshelves: hardcover, own, review-written
Read from May 06 to 07, 2012

***NOTE MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS***


It’s been months since the events of The Red Pyramid and Carter and Sadie have gathered a group of descendents of pharaohs who they are training in the path of the gods. But when Carter learns that Apophis will escape his prison in only days Carter and Sadie must hope that the training they have will be enough. Their only hope of defeating Apophis is to return the Sun God Ra to his throne, but to find him they must first assemble a scroll broken into three parts and heavily guarded at different locations around the globe. Then they must travel through the duat and hope that the dangerous scroll will lead them to the missing parts of the sun god and that they can put him back together and return him to the world. If that task weren’t hard enough now it is not just the House of Life but the Gods who also oppose them. Horus does not want to relinquish his throne and though he’s not openly attacking the siblings and offers them help as they need it, he’s also not volunteering or openly supporting them either. Without the gods to help them accomplish the task and with two equally frightening opponents do the Kane Children have any chance of finding and fixing Ra? And if they don’t will the world survive the rise of Apophis when he escapes from his prison intending to swallow the sun and put the world into darkness and chaos forever?

The second novel in the Kane Chronicles series is good, but after having read the first I have to say that I didn’t find it as good as the series opener. The length was a little better for middle grade readers but I think it will still be daunting to some and again I think the publisher should consider doing a second printing of a serialized version of each book in the series so that middle grade readers who are daunted by length won’t be intimidated to pick up the story. While this book began with solid action more so than the last book and it did keep a fairly fast pace throughout the story, I just didn’t find it as gripping as the first novel. Part of that reason is that Sadie and Carter split up a lot in this story which left us reading two simultaneous story lines during much of the book. The way it was written Sadie would tell a little bit of what happened with her and then at some critical scene pause and Carter would start telling what happened with him or vice versa. Each of the narratives would pause at a critical scene and they’d switch back and forth with doing this until they were back together again. The thing is you’d be so caught up in what was happening with the first character that even though the second character had an equally great narrative it seemed to drag because you’re still stuck in the first narrative wanting to know what happened next. In the previous novel Carter and Sadie spent most of their time together so even when the story switched narrators you were usually in the same scene and therefore not left pondering over some kind of cliffhanger while reading something else. I spent a lot of my time reading this frustrated and stopping myself from flipping ahead to read what happened with the first character. The way it was written I have to believe I wasn’t the only one that found this distracting flip-flopping between narratives and never getting to fully engage in either because if I did fully engage in one I couldn’t concentrate through the other. Maybe if he’d finished one narrative then gone back to tell the other I might have felt more connected, but I can’t say for sure since that wasn’t the way the book was written. My second issue with this book was the romantic plot lines. In the first book Riordan put a twist in the relationship between Carter and Zia by making her a shabati, however that shabati was sending memories to the real Zia so while I thought there would be some awkwardness when Carter finally found her, I figured they’d iron it out and connect in this novel. However that’s not what happened and when Carter and Zia finally meet in person it’s like the events of The Red Pyramid never happened and she doesn’t even try to connect with him. So I found that really disheartening. Then there’s Sadie who’s just turned thirteen in the beginning of this novel. He’s put this girl at the center of a love triangle with two equally doomed prospects. Sadie is still interested in the god Anubis who seems to share the attraction except he’s a funeral god with no human host and she’s pretty much confined to meeting him in cemeteries or not seeing him at all. Not to mention despite the fact the god looks sixteen, he’s thousands of years old and if you take that into consideration it’s a little creepy that he’s interested in a thirteen year old. Our second prospect for Sadie is Walt, a human teenager who’s a descendent of King Tut and suffers from a curse that will kill him before he reaches his twenties. While he seems like he’d be the better prospect the fact that he doesn’t have that long to live really doesn’t make him much of one and beside that fact as an adult the idea of a thirteen year old in a love triangle is just a little disturbing to me. I’m sure that won’t be the case for middle grade readers in the target audience, but I’m not a middle grade reader so it bothered me. Honestly my thoughts here are if he’s going to give these characters love interests at least give them prospects they have a chance of a happily ever after with. Right now the romantic subplots are just disheartening. Another issue I had was in The Red Pyramid you finished the book feeling like even though things weren’t perfect they’d accomplished something. At the end of The Throne of Fire it doesn’t really feel like that. Things have changed and they sort of meet their goals, but nothing turns out quite as it’s supposed to so you don’t finish the novel feeling happy or excited, more you feel a little depressed. I personally feel like this is the wrong genre for books that leave you with less than a happy ending and a feeling of accomplishment. Maybe that’s just me, but I left the book feeling disappointed. My final issue is that with the first novel Riordan brought us in slowly so that we understood the lives of the characters and the difference between their lives before these events and during. In this story he’s skipped months ahead in their lives but he sort of just throws us into their new life with all these trainees learning the path of the gods. It was a little abrupt for me and I would have preferred some back story at the beginning of the novel which established all the changes in their lives between The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire. I didn’t want to just accept all these new characters, I want to be introduced to them and understand how they came to be part of Sadie and Carter’s lives. Yes I complained about the length of the Red Pyramid because it’s daunting to younger readers, but I do thing the gradual way he worked us into the situation in The Red Pyramid was the right way to tell the tale, it’s just that I think a second serialized edition would open the book to more readers. In this novel it kind of felt like hey here’s a ton of new characters, accept them and move on they’re background, not really important.

Despite all that Riordan does present an excellent story. That narrative follows the same format as the last novel in the series with two first person narratives separated by chapter with the narrator identified a the beginning of each chapter. The narratives are sandwiched between two author’s notes to the reader that frame the story and set the feel for the narrative to follow. Again the author’s notes are clearly as fictional as the narrative within but they do give the books a nice feel and I think even though they’re short that they do really add to the book by setting the tone of the novel and giving it a sense of realism though it’s an utterly fantastic story. The pacing of this novel is extremely fast and the characters don’t have a lot of downtime. Riordan raises the stakes and the opposition in this story as well to add an edge and feeling of excitement that raise the bar from the first novel. If the action weren’t enough he gives his narrators new and more intense emotional turmoil to deal with as they face the challenges around them. The danger and excitement are enhanced with scenes of humor which helps break the darker tone of this second work in the series. Though I still feel the first novel was better than the second Riordan has still produced a novel with a strong plot that is a page turner from beginning to end.

Riordan does well with characterization in this novel, but not as well as he did in the first. In this novel he presents some background character that we really didn’t have in the first novel. He builds the important characters but others kind of blend together. For example there’s 20 trainees now at Brooklyn House, one is well developed and that’s Sadie’s love interest Walt. A second is semi-well developed – the healer in a coma Jaz, though what I consider to be critical parts of her are left a mystery still to reader and a third is distinctive because he’s got a penguin fetish and keeps conjuring penguins to solve every problem. The other seventeen, well I believe he names them all, but they seriously blend together in the group of trainees. Riordan also presents a group of bad magicians in which telling them apart is near to impossible. Some reoccurring characters in the series like Carter and Sadie’s parents and Bast rely on previous characterization to really establish them instead of offering new build or development. Though others like Desjardins, the new Chief Lector of the House of Life and Zia gain new development and their characters change and in Desjardins case grow in this novel. Carter and Sadie continue to be well developed and to grow as characters though I have to say in my opinion Sadie kind of dominated the novel and Carter at points seemed almost like a secondary character. New introductions outside of the large groupings were a mix of well developed and distinctive characters. So the characterization was good, but it’s just not as good as the last novel where every character was at minimum distinctive.

Overall I definitely would recommend this book to readers who enjoy fantasy and mythology based novels. It is a great story; it’s just not as good as the series opener.
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Reading Progress

05/06/2012 page 95
21.0% "The book has offered some exciting scenes from page one, but the real excitement of the journey hasn't begun yet and I'm kind of impatient to get there."
05/06/2012 page 141
31.0% ""We had to hang from a rope under the griffin's belly like a couple of Tarzans, dodging policemen, emergency workers, city officials, and several old ladies who chased after us with umbrellas screaming, "There's the hummingbird! Kill It!"" As Sadie might say that passage is 'bloody brilliant!' The quest may not have yet begun but it's a serious joyride just getting to it."
05/07/2012 page 270
60.0% "So I like this book I really do, but I really hate how Sadie and Carter separate so much because what would be interesting story lines drag because you're still wrapped up with what's happening with the other narrator and that ending mid scene to switch to what the other sibling was doing. It's frustrating."
05/07/2012 page 328
73.0% "It's a lot better with Carter and Sadie in the same story line. But I'm really disappointed about the situation between Carter and Zia and it's just odd that Riordan put a newly turned 13 year old in the middle of a love triangle with both of her love interests as doomed prospects."

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