The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid

May 4, 2010

The Red Pyramid Summary. On one of their infrequent visitations, siblings Sadie and Carter take a nice trip to the British Museum in London with their Egyptologist father Julius Kane—during which he blows up the Rosetta Stone, releasing five impris...

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Adventure fictionNovelYoung adultFantasy

528 Pages

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The Red Pyramid Summary. On one of their infrequent visitations, siblings Sadie and Carter take a nice trip to the British Museum in London with their Egyptologist father Julius Kane—during which he blows up the Rosetta Stone, releasing five imprisoned ancient Egyptian gods: Isis, Osiris, Horus, Set, and Nephthys.

The Red Pyramid is a 2010 fantasy-adventure novel based on Egyptian mythology written by Rick Riordan. It is the first novel in The Kane Chronicles series. The novel was first published in the United States on May 4, 2010, by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Publishing Worldwide. It has been published in hardcover, audiobook, ebook, and large-print editions, and has been translated into 19 languages from its original English.

Richard Russell Riordan Jr.  born June 5, 1964) is an American author. He is known for writing the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, about a twelve-year-old Percy Jackson who discovers he is a son of Greek God Poseidon. His books have been translated into 42 languages and sold more than 30 million copies in the US. 20th Century Fox has adapted the first two books of his Percy Jackson series as part of a series of films. His books have spawned related media, such as graphic novels and short story collections.


Riordan's first full-length novel was Big Red Tequila, which became the first book in the Tres Navarre series. His big breakthrough was The Lightning Thief (2005), the first novel in the five-volume Percy Jackson series, which placed a group of adolescents in a Greco-Roman mythological setting. Since then, Riordan has written The Kane Chronicles trilogy and The Heroes of Olympus series. The Kane Chronicles (2010-2012) focused on Egyptian mythology; The Heroes of Olympus was the sequel to the Percy Jackson series. Riordan also helped Scholastic Press develop The 39 Clues series and its spinoffs, and penned its first book, The Maze of Bones (2008). His most recent publications are three books in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, based on Norse mythology.The first book of his The Trials of Apollo series based on Greek mythology, The Hidden Oracle, was released in May 2016.



    1998 Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel and Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original for Big Red Tequila

    1999 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original for The Widower's Two-Step

    2008 Mark Twain Award for The Lightning Thief

    2009 Mark Twain Award for The Sea of Monsters

    2009 Rebecca Caudill Award for The Lightning Thief

    2010 School Library Journal's Best Book for The Red Pyramid

    2011 Children's Choice Book Awards: Author of the Year

    2011 Children's Choice Book Awards: Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year for The Red Pyramid

    2011 Wyoming Soaring Eagle Book Award for The Last Olympian

    2011 Milner Award for Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

    2012 Indian Paintbrush Award for The Red Pyramid

    2013 Best Fiction Book for Children in Bulgaria for The Mark of Athena

    2017 Stonewall Book Award for Children's literature for The Hammer of Thor.


The book follows the Kane siblings, Carter and Sadie, as they discover they are descended from both the pharaohs and magicians of ancient Egypt. As a result, they are able to both host gods and wield magic. The duo unknowingly hosts the Egyptian gods Horus and Isis, while their father is taken as a host by Osiris who is captured by Set. They are thrown into an adventure to rescue their father, while simultaneously trying to save the world from destruction. The novel is written as though it is a transcription of an audio recording by siblings Carter and Sadie Kane, alternately narrated in first-person by the siblings.


The Red Pyramid received generally positive reviews with critics praising its pace, action and storyline. The novel was on the Amazon Children's bestseller list. It also won a School Library Journal Best Book Award, and was also shortlisted for the 2011 Red House Children's Book Award. The audiobook of The Red Pyramid, narrated by Katherine Kellgren and Kevin P. Free, was a finalist at the Audiobook of the Year Award.

Composition and marketing


According to Riordan, the idea for The Kane Chronicles series came from his realization that the only ancient history subject more popular than Ancient Greece was that of Ancient Egypt. He had already written and published several books in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, which dealt with the interaction between Greek mythology and the modern world. The idea of having two multiracial siblings narrate the book also came from his experience as a teacher. Carter and Sadie Kane, the titular characters, were inspired by two siblings he taught, as well as the fact that Ancient Egypt was a multicultural society.


In an interview with Publishers Weekly at the BEA 2010 Show, where Riordan signed copies of the novel, he said that Ancient Egypt "fascinates kids." He did extensive research so that "The magic, the spells, the shabti, are all grounded in reality." In another interview, Riordan objected to the longstanding Western tradition of separating Egyptian history from the history of other African societies, saying it was important to "firmly [put] Egypt back into the realm of African history."The Red Pyramid was the first time Riordan used alternating points of view because it was "very important ... that both genders have protagonists they can identify with."



The Red Pyramid had a first printing of one million copies. The series was planned to consist of one book per year to build anticipation. The novel featured cover art by John Rocco, with interior illustrations by Michelle Gengaro-Kokmen. As of 2010, the novel had sold 630,000 copies.


The Red Pyramid received a lexile score of 650L making it appropriate for 11–14 year olds. Since its release, the novel has been translated into 19 languages.


On May 4, 2010, a fourteen-hour and 32 minute audiobook version of The Red Pyramid, read by Katherine Kellgren and Kevin R.Free, who later read all the audiobooks in the series, was published worldwide by Brilliance Audio.On October 2, 2012, a graphic novel version of The Red Pyramid, adapted and illustrated by artist Orpheus Collar, was published worldwide by Disney Hyperion. On September 7, 2012, pictures from the graphic novel were released by Rick Riordan on his official website.


Reviewed by:

Chris Eboch

Rick Riordan has written for both children and adults, but is probably most known today for his best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. His new series, The Kane Chronicles, repeats that successful formula, with an action-packed adventure featuring young heroes discovering that they are related to gods—this time, those of ancient Egypt.


Carter and Sadie Kane are siblings who have little in common. They have grown up apart since their mother’s mysterious death six years earlier. Fourteen-year-old Carter lives out of a suitcase, traveling the world with their Egyptologist father. Sadie, age 12, lives with their grandparents in London. Carter and his father visit Sadie just twice a year. With this intriguing premise, Riordan creates an interesting pair of heroes who feel family loyalty to each other, even as they start out neither knowing nor liking each other.


Carter, though older, is much more timid. It’s nice to avoid boy/girl stereotypes, but this weakness may turn off some boy readers. Sadie, on the other hand, is confident and reckless, sometimes to the point of being obnoxious. The siblings’ flaws do make them more realistic, and over time they learn to understand and appreciate each other better. By the end, they are entirely likable.


Their relationship also allows Riordan to touch on issues of sibling jealousy (each assumes the other has it better), and on race. Carter takes after his African-American father, and has been taught to dress well (or geeky, in Sadie’s opinion) so as not to be mistaken for a thug. Sadie looks like her white mother and resents people who act surprised that she and Carter are related. It’s nice to see diversity in children’s literature, though the book’s cover shows the children from the back, thus hiding their appearance. Their race isn’t clear until several pages into the book.


The story is told in alternating first-person narration by Carter and Sadie. This allows us to get to know each of the characters equally, and see their different perspectives on story events. It also provides some fun bickering. However, it becomes hard to keep track of who is narrating, causing this reviewer to have to keep jumping out of the story to check the name on the page headings, an unfortunate disruption of the plot.


Another minor flaw will no doubt be overlooked by most young readers. Though he has spent his life traveling with his father, Carter’s knowledge of Egyptology seems oddly spotty. He knows some obscure facts, while failing to recognize more common terms, which makes him seem stupid at times. In New York City, he accurately identifies Manhattan streets during a wild car chase, but doesn’t know about the famous Egyptian temple in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carter’s memory seems to suit the author’s plot needs more than the authenticity of the character.


Carter and Sadie are thrown into adventure when their father takes them to the British Museum, and there performs a spell that unleashes several Egyptian gods. Their father disappears when one of the gods entombs him, leaving Carter and Sadie to explain the explosion. The siblings’ first goal is to rescue their father, but their task quickly grows. The fate of the world is at stake, Carter and Sadie each have an Egyptian god sharing their body and trying to take over, plus the evil god Set is trying to kill them. Then a group of magicians decides that Carter and Sadie are a threat to their order and must be eliminated. Allies are few and sometimes hard to recognize, while enemies are all around (and may take the form of a giant crocodile or thousands of scorpions).


Overall, Riordan’s writing is smooth, with good pacing and dramatic cliffhanger chapter endings. Though the book is over 500 pages long, it’s a fast read, if sometimes a confusing one. The Egyptian history and mythology presented is extensive and complicated. Fortunately, many young readers are fascinated by ancient Egypt, and so may enjoy the challenge.


The plot is also confusing, with dozens of twists and turns as the siblings are constantly given new tasks. They jump around the world, visiting, among other places, a city hidden under the Sphinx in Egypt, London, Paris, New York City, the Washington Monument, Elvis’s Graceland Mansion in Memphis, the Rio Grande near El Paso, and Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, where Set is building the Red Pyramid that will allow him to take over the world. Though it’s hard to look back and remember exactly what happened, let alone in what order, the intense action keeps the pages turning, and an overall goal of saving their father and the world drives the story forward.


Riordan balances his action with humor, sometimes subtle and sometimes slapstick. Carter describes his father as looking “like a buff evil scientist.” A basketball-fanatic baboon named Khufu will only eat foods that end in –o, such as Doritos, burritos, and flamingos. Bast, the cat goddess formerly living as Sadie’s cat Muffin, offers the kids Friskies for dinner. The humor provides a lighter counterpoint to the intense action of constant life or death situations.


The Kane Chronicles are more challenging than the Percy Jackson series, with a more confusing, random plot, and a complicated mythology that may overwhelm some young readers. Yet the action and humor will draw in many fans of either fantasy or adventure books. The Red Pyramid is sure to please many Rick Riordan fans, who will read the book several times while anxiously awaiting the next offering in the series.

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