The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

“Um…is that thing tame?” Frank said.
The horse whinnied angrily.
“I don’t think so,” Percy guessed. “He just said, ‘I will trample you to death, silly Chinese Canadian baby man.’

Though I have liked reading the Kane Chronicles, I was overjoyed to get another installment in the Olympians series. And not only another installment, but we get Percy back as narrator! Whether it is simply because for many of us he is the original voice of the Olympian books, or he is just a stronger character than Jason (I think the latter), it is a relief and a joy to have him back telling the story in The Son of Neptune.

In our last adventure with The Heroes of Olympus, Jason (of the Roman camp), Piper, and Leo made their way to Camp Half-Blood and went on a quest. In The Son of Neptune, we get to visit the Roman camp at last with Percy. He has lost his memory, been trained by wolves and finds himself entering the Roman camp as a new camper. This camp is quite different from Camp Half-Blood, a little more intense, a little more.. Roman. If you make a mistake or betray someone, you can be put to death as punishment. Instead of beads, you get tattoos to mark your progress. Capture the flag is a serious game where you can build castles and use deathly weapons to defeat your opponents. But there are positives to this new camp that readers will discover quickly as well, even aspects that we wish existed in Camp Half-Blood because they give us hope for the demigods and their future.

This book did feel a little like a repeat of Percy’s first trip to Camp Half-Blood but it is enjoyable to see all the differences and experience camp the Roman way. Percy has been put to sleep for months by Juno, which is why we didn’t hear from him in the last book. Now he is finally awake, has been trained by wolves and arrives at camp in his usual hectic manner, running for his life. He quickly proves himself, gains a couple of misfit friends (doesn’t he always?) and then is off on a quest. This quest goes beyond the borders of the Roman/Greek god’s powers, which adds a new element of the unknown to the plot.

Percy is, as always, funny, charming and undeniably, badass. His sidekicks have new powers we’ve never seen before and they encounter troubling new foes. The entire book is great fun, cover to cover. Fans of the Olympian series will definitely enjoy this installment.

I am already impatiently awaiting the next book because, as we all know, the next book is when both camps come together to save the world (the world seems to get into a lot of trouble eh? ) and I think it could be the best book yet.

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

“Ptah?” I’d heard quite a few off Egyptian god names, but this was a new one for me. “Ptah the son of Pitooey? Is he the god of spitting?”
Claude glared at me. “Are you always so irreverent?”
“Usually, more.”

Not that I’d enjoy the world ending, but I am insanely jealous of the two main characters in this series because they get to meet the Egyptian gods. Who doesn’t want to sail down a river with Ra? Fight battles with Horus? Use the power of Isis for good?

Carter Kane and his sister Sadie are two young magicians learning Egyptian magic to save the world. Sadie and Carter tell their adventures in The Kane Chronicles as an audio recording they will send out to explain why the world is ending and how they’ve tried to stop it. The story switches back and forth between Carter telling it from his perspective and Sadie from hers. Although this style doesn’t seem to work as well as a straightforward account, it is amusing because the two different tones of each child’s personality is reflected in their storytelling. Also, it is how we see their relationship as brother and sister grow, so it becomes a large part of the story itself, rather than just another way to write a book.

As this is the second in the series, it opens in the middle of their adventures. They are training young magicians at Brooklyn House who answered the call of the first audio tape from The Red Pyramid (Book 1 in the Kane Chronicles) and they have five days to stop the Apophis, the god of Chaos, from rising (i.e destroying the world as we know it.) In the beginning of the story, Carter and Sadie are breaking into a museum to find an artifact to bring Ra, the Sun god, back to life. Of course the museum happens to have a wedding at that time and all sorts of complications ensue, but they pull it off with help from their friends, some magic and a battle or two. And with that, their quest has officially begun.

I won’t give any more of their story away, but the whole book is great fun. Although I am not enjoying this series quite as much as the Percy Jackson and the Olympians, they are still really enjoyable books. Riordan is an excellent writer who knows how to blend adventure and humor with a little dramatic flair. The perspective of the children telling the story, especially Carter, sounds exactly like a smart ass kid, so there is plenty of comic relief for all.

At least I assumed he was a ghost, because he was see-through. He was a heavy older man with short-cropped white hair, bulldog jowls and a cross expression. He wore Roman-style robes and kohl eyeliner, so he looked rather like Winston Churchill – if the old prime minister had thrown a wild toga party and gotten his face painted.

In addition to his humor and delightful magic scenes (using ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to fight epic battles is thoroughly entertaining) the descriptions in this story are well thought out and eloquently written. Riordan definitely did his research, so we learn a lot about the Egyptian gods as the characters meet them in their journey.

The highlight of the book for me was when they travel Ra’s nightly journey through the underworld in his boat to be reborn again as the sun at dawn. It is beautiful and will make you wish you could be there alongside them. Especially if you were extremely into Egyptian mythology as a kid and wished you could have grown up there to see it all firsthand. (Was that just me? I know there are some others of you out there!) The Egyptians had an amazing culture that Riordan brings to life for readers in this series. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a Pharaoh, see the Pyramids born, worship Ra?

Sadie and Carter’s story, although written for kids, will keep anyone of any age reading and instill a love of Egyptian Mythology in their hearts. Possibly even, will inspire you to draw some kohl on your eyes and practice your hieroglyphics on your lunch hour. (No? Just me again?)