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Literature: The Kane Chronicles
The Kanes doing what they do best.

"We only have a few hours, so listen carefully. If you're hearing this story, you're already in danger. Sadie and I might be your only chance."

So begins The Kane Chronicles, an Urban Fantasy series by Rick Riordan that follows in the vein of his Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus books. The three books in the series, The Red Pyramid, The Throne of Fire and The Serpent's Shadow all take the larger Egyptian mythology and transplants it to a western setting. Other books in the series include the companion book The Kane Chronicles Survival Guide and the short story The Son of Sobek. Another short story, The Staff of Serapis, was released in May 2014.

This time, the story centers on siblings Carter and Sadie Kane who discover that they're descendants of ancient Egyptian magicians. This leads them to learning to master their powers while taking up the primary duty of a magician: fighting and banishing the gods once worshiped throughout Ancient Egypt. Some snags in the process include their only possible allies being out to kill them, ancient Egyptian monsters and figuring out how to defeat the god of evil himself.

The books are told from both heroes' perspectives, instead of just one like its big sister series. The books are also revealed to take place in the same universe as Percy Jackson's tale does, with small shout outs to the first series here and there. The tone of the books also shift slightly more towards Darker and Edgier as they go on, but it isn't much of a slide from the first or second books.

A graphic novel adaptation of the first book has been released. See here.


This series provides examples of:

  • Academy of Adventure: After The Kanes get Brooklyn House up and running again, it becomes this.
  • Action Girl: Sadie, Zia, Neith, and Bast. To an extent, Tawaret.
  • Adventure Duo: Carter and Sadie need each other to get anywhere. Carter's knowledge of Egyptology and Sadie's ability to read hieroglyphs are just the tip of this iceberg.
  • Alliterative Name: Carter Kane.
  • All Myths Are True: In this case, Egyptian and a hint of Percy Jackson's Greek.
  • Art Initiates Life: Shelby, one of the youngest magicians, is briefly mentioned as having this power in The Serpent's Shadow.
  • Back from the Dead: Carter and Sadie think their dad was trying to bring their mother back. That wasn't completely true.
    Bast, as a gift from the gods, at the end.
    • Walt appears to do this, but he actually just hosted Anubis at the last minute.
  • Badass Army: Set's army of demons.
    • Sarah Jacobi's "hit squad" of magicians.
  • Badass Boast: "I am a magician of the house of life. We are TRAINED to fight gods."
    • Carter pulls off a pretty good one too in the first book: "I am Carter Kane! Blood of the Pharaohs, Eye of Horus! And now, Set - brother, uncle, traitor,- I am going to crush you like a gnat."
    • One of the few lines Khepri, Ra's morning aspect, gets, using Zia's mouth, is a strong contender for the most awesome line in the series: "I am Khepri, the rising sun. I will not be denied."
  • Badass Bookworm: Carter, Julius, and Amos.
  • Badass Longcoat: Walt/Anubis gets one at the end of The Serpent's Shadow.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Elvis was a magician.
  • Big Applesauce: Amos' mansion is in Brooklyn. "Manhattan has other problems."
    • Chekhov's Sequel Hook At the end of the trilogy, it's implied that the next thing the Kanes will be doing is investigating some "unexplained magic" on Long Island. Who do we know that practices magic on Long Island? Carter investigates this occurrence in the audiobook The Son of Sobek, and bumps into Percy Jackson, who is doing the same thing. Naturally, they mistake each other for a rogue magician and an evil demigod and duke it out, but eventually call a truce to face the titular giant crocodile. The audiobook ends with Carter giving Percy a means of contacting him if he ever needs help.
  • Big Bad: Set thinks he is this in the first book, but is really a pawn of Apophis, the real Big Bad.
  • Bigger Bad: The Sea of Chaos.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Desjardins seems to be this at least once per book. Also counts as Brought Down to Badass, as he manages to execrate Apophis in the second book.
  • Bland-Name Product: In the graphic novel of The Red Pyramid, Khufu eats "HappyOs," which was probably done because they actually show the box, whereas the original book merely mentions "Cheerios." The box, though, looks almost exactly like a regular box of Cheerios, right down to the stylized "G" that is the General Mills logo.
  • Body and Host: When a magician is being possessed by a god they are known as "hosts" or "godlings". Can have shades of body snatching, as the god is sometimes able to forcibly take control of their host's body.
  • Book Dumb: Sadie, much to Carter's dismay.
  • But Not Too Black: While both Carter and Sadie are biracial, Sadie is described as having lighter skin and hair. Most people don't realize they are family when they first meet them.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Sadie was born and raised in America until age 6, where she was moved to England to live with her grandparents. That said, she acts more or less like a native-born Brit, and her chapters are written in British English.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Carter and Sadie. Having been separated for around six years prior to the beginning of the story, it takes them a little while to get into the hang of things, but they do.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Walt never manages to explain just what he and Anubis have been discussing but that's mostly Sadie's fault.
    Anubis: Couldn't get a word in edgewise?
  • Calling Card: In The Serpent's Shadow, Apophis leaves the Egyptian hieroglyph for chaos wherever he destroys a Nome.
  • The Cavalry: In the third book, the elderly and mostly senile gods from the House of Rest, along with Tawaret and the newly restored Bes charge a horde of demons to rescue the main heroes.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Russian boy Sadie briefly encounters in the second book has important information in the third.
  • The Chessmaster: Apophis. How much? He doesn't even appear until the end of the book and he very nearly tricks Set-a god of Chaos-into blowing up the world for him.
    • Iskandar is the good version.
  • Cool Sword: Carter's khopesh. Like all of Riordan's stuff, its a case of Shown Their Work, as the khopesh is a real sword used by the ancient Egyptians. Carter uses the hook of the blade to give himself leverage not possible with a normal sword.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Averted in The Throne of Fire, at least the "pretty" part. When Carter Kane does it on Zia, she immediately tries to punch him upon being revived.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Although the book only focuses on the Egyptian gods, Thoth mentions that he gets mistaken for the Greek god Hermes and having meet him, and Amos mentions that Manhattan has its own gods, a reference to the Greek gods from Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
    • Monsters also bite it the same way. Turn into sand upon their death but now we know why it takes a bit to come back.
    • The Kane Chronicles also have something similar to PJO's Mist, causing monsters and supernatural items to be invisible or to appear as ordinary animals or objects.
    • Moses also makes an appearance in the history hallway.
    • At the beginning of The Throne Of Fire, Carter mentions that he's seen winged horses across the river in Manhattan.
    • In The Serpent's Shadow problems from other gods are predicted to come.
    • In the short story The Son of Sobek Carter teams up with Percy Jackson but they are very careful to avoid revealing too much about their respective worlds, sensing that they're supposed to remain separate.
    • The upcoming The Staff of Serapis will feature Sadie teaming up with Annabeth Chase.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sadie and Horus.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Zia, arguably Sadie
  • Deus ex Machina: Bast returning at the end, but justified in that it was actually done by gods.
  • Direct Line to the Author: Each book begins with a note in which the author describes how he has received a recording, which he has transcribed as the contents of the novel.
  • Divine Assistance: Horus, Isis, Bast, Bes, and on occasion, other gods.
  • Divine Parentage: Carter and Sadie, obviously. The Blood of the Pharoahs.
    • Kind of. The gods prefer to take host from certain bloodlines with powerful magic that usually contain at least one pharaoh at some point in time or another. But it's unclear if the gods preferred them because they were pharaohs or if they ended up becoming pharaohs specifically because they could host the gods.
      • A bit of both The greatest pharaohs were those capable of hosting the gods; so the gods preferred their descendants because they were strong enough to be hosts.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Julius is described as being bald, with a goatee. His last name is Kane. He ends up ascending to a higher plane of existence. Hmmm...
  • Don't Think. Feel: Divine magic only works if it's involuntary. Think about it too much and nothing happens.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By
  • Eldritch Abomination: Apophis, and to a lesser extent, the Set Animal.
    • Physically, Apophis is a mile-long red snake whose presence melts people's senses, whatever that means. He can also possess people and at one point says he is everywhere.
  • Eldritch Location: The Duat.
  • Eye Scream / Facial Horror: What happened to Menshikov when he tried and failed to awaken Ra.
  • Expy: The series is very similar to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, another series by the same author. One who has read both can easily tell that the characters are alike (apart from the same universe and the same writing style).
    • You have a smart, but shy Carter as Annabeth. A Book Dumb (but not stupid) and sarcastic Sadie as Percy (except she is more outgoing). Anubis also is the god of the afterlife as Nico is the son of the god of death and both lived...for a very long time.
  • French Jerk: Desjardins. Although not so much when he execrates Apophis, thus sacrificing his life to to so.
  • Fighting a Shadow: Shabtis can be used to create "stand ins" for real magicians. The Zia after the museum incident is also one. The real one is hidden. In "Throne of Fire" she's saved from The Place of Red Sands.
    • You can also use shadows for more effective execration.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Amos, trying to warn Carter and Sadie that he was really Set's host.
  • First-Person Smartass: Carter has his moments, but this is Sadie's default.
  • Foil: Carter and Sadie. They're brother and sister, but he's studious and reserved while she's loud and outgoing. The two of them are very aware of how different they are.
  • Gas Leak Coverup: In The Serpent's Shadow, it's mentioned that the accidental destruction often caused by the protagonists of the series is often blamed on gas explosions.
    Carter: The locals would just have to assume there was a gas explosion. We tended to cause a lot of those.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The pills given to Carter by the god Hapi to turn them into water are called Hapi Pills. Needless to say, Carter doesn't like the experience.
  • Hammerspace: Just one of the many functions of the Duat. Carter keeps his khopesh inside it, and at the end of the series the Djed amulet for other magicians to find.
  • Hammerspace Hideaway: People can pass through the Duat to get places. Carter and Sadie pass through at one point to bypass mundane security.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: Desjardins spends most of the book following the Cornelius Fudge school of crisis management; eventually he graduates to merely Divided We Fall.
  • Heroic Albino: Philip of Macedonia.
  • Heroic BSOD: When Amos is freed from his possession from Set in the first book, he is so traumatized, he can't utter a single sentence. Makes you wonder just how Set managed to posses the poor dude. Thankfully, he recovers.
  • Heroic Lineage
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Bast, Ruby Kane, Julius Kane, Desjardins
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real Setne was a highly respected religious/political figure in Ancient Egypt, with several myths written about him in which he is the hero.
  • I Am the Noun: Apophis declares in The Throne of Fire "I am chaos itself."
  • Idiot Hero: Sadie isn't nearly as dumb as other examples, but she's almost as reckless.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: Set to Face of Horror in The Red Pyramid
    Face of Horror: But master, I thought...
    Set: Do not think, demon.
  • I Know Your True Name: This is how the heroes manage to enslave Set. Also how Sadie manages to cure Carter of poisoning.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Set: "'The complete Set!' That's funny!"
    • In the middle of an evil monologue, no less.
    • In The Throne of Fire:
    "It's your best bet," [Bes] said.
    "Bes bet?" Khonsu chuckled. "Nice!"
    • When they met in person, Sadie said Anubis was "drop dead gorgeous".
    • Hapi pills in The Serpent's Shadow.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Carter: (About Sekhemet) She's almost as annoying as you.
    Horus: Impossible. No one bests Horus.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Similar to Percy Jackson, the titles are like this.
    • 'Men Ask For Directions (and Other Signs of the Apocalypse)' is probably the best of these.
  • I Gave My Word: Bast, promising she'd protect Sadie. Led to her Heroic Sacrifice
  • Jerk Ass Gods: Averted, a few like Set and Khonsu are major jerks and a few others have their moments,but most tend to be fairly respectful of mortals,compared to the Greek Gods at the least, with Ra being pretty much an ideal grandfather.
  • Kid Hero: Carter, Sadie, Zia, and all the kids at Brooklyn House.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Bast loves cats and likes being in her cat form. The cats of the world respond in kind by bringing her information or helping her out in various ways.
  • Language of Magic: It's Ancient Egyptian in this case.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: In the audiobook Son of Sobek, Carter crosses paths with Percy Jackson while they are both hunting the titular giant crocodile, and they get into a fight when Percy mistakes Carter for a rogue demigod.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Bes's trademark superpower is the ability to distort his face hideously to scare his enemies. It WORKS. GAH. His "Dwarf Pride" Speedos help.
  • Magic Compass:
    • In The Red Pyramid Amos throws sand into the air which forms into an arrow pointing to Las Cruces. It even seems to tell him how far it is. Sadie apparently has learned something similar by the second book.
    • In The Serpent's Shadow they find Apophis' shadow using the Book of Thoth, which Carter describes as a combination compass, tour guide, and farmer's almanac.
  • Magic Knight: Carter, Zia and many other magicians of the House of Life, especially those who specialize in combat magic. Several of the gods and monsters of the series also display a combination of magical and combat prowess.
  • Magic Map:
    • In The Red Pyramid the Egyptian Queen navigates into the Land of the Dead via a map called Spells of Coming Forth by Day, a.k.a. The Book of the Dead.
    • In The Serpent's Shadow the First Nome is shown to have a map of the world showing clay figurines being destroyed as loyal magicians are lost. It's not clear if it's the map itself that's magic or the figures, but it could well be both.
  • Male Gaze: Carter finds it difficult to look the overendowed hippopatamus goddess Tawaret in the face.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Apophis
  • Marked to Die: Julius knew he would be possessed by Osiris, and eventually end up "dead" as the host for the Lord of the Dead. Walt's family is also cursed to die young and using magic speeds up the process.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Bast, a cat goddess.
  • Monkeys on a Typewriter: Actually ibises.
  • Mook-Face Turn: While invading Vlad the Inhaler's territory, the siblings encounter a teenage Russian magician who they manage to scare off without having to engage. He later comes back to repay the favor, joining Brooklyn House in standing against Apophis and bringing the kids a crucial piece of information.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Anubis. Passages describing his appearance are worth rereading just for the beautiful mental image.
  • Name of Cain
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: "The following is a transcript of a digital recording... Background noises such as scuffling, hitting, and cursing by the two speakers have not been transcribed."
  • Near Villain Victory: At the end of The Serpent's Shadow both the book's prelude and the oft-mentioned ancient prophecies get fulfilled when Apophis manages to swallow Ra. Of course, when Apophis gets erased from existence 3 pages later Ra tumbles down completely unscathed.
  • Nice Job Breaking It Carter: In the end, Apophis being destroyed also causes the gods to retreat, because of some sort of Yin-Yang system.
  • Nightmare Face: A heroic example in Besnote , and two villainous examples in Menshikov and Face of Horror.
  • Noodle Incident: Carter and Sadie's actions while recording are often briefly described as such.
    • Also, the "Spatula Incident," a past fight between Carter and Sadie's father and their maternal grandparents.
    • And the time that their Julius punched his father-in-law in the face.
  • No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: Averted in another important religious figure- it is made very clear that Moses was actually a magician. On top of that, a comment from Bes in The Throne of Fire suggests that one of his miracles, the parting of the Red Sea, was something any magician from Ancient Egypt could've done.
    • Although gods are manifestly real, All Myths Are True, and Moses was apparently a badass enough wizard that he's the only outsider ever to best the House of Life, so it certainly be said to work anyway.
      • Additionally, it is implied that "other magic" is just how the Egyptians describe the power of foreign gods.
  • Official Couple: Julius and Ruby, Carter and Zia, Sadie and Walt/Anubis, and Bes and Tawaret (although Tawaret is supposed to be the wife of Apophis...)
  • Oh My Gods!: Averted as Sadie frequently says "Oh my God," and "God," throughout the book, but played straight with Bast and others more familiar with Ancient Egypt.
    • Zia's preferred usage is "Gods of Egypt..."
  • Power Trio: Carter and Sadie along with Bast, Zia, Amos...
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Sadly, most of it is a spoiler, but...
    Carter: I am Carter Kane, Blood of the Pharaohs, Eye of Horus. And now, Set—brother, uncle, traitor—, I'm going to crush you like a gnat.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Both Carter and Sadie have ba trips, often seeing things they wished they hadn't.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The House of Life has 360 nomes (That is, places that members can be assigned to) the first is Egypt, where it was founded. 360 is literally Antarctica, where magicians are assigned as punishment, and populated only by "a few cold magicians and some magic penguins."
  • Rebel Leader: Sarah Jacobi and her head lieutenant Kwai are major thorns in the Kane's sides. They and their group are secondary antagonists in the latter books.
  • Red Herring: Set tricks Carter and Sadie into thinking that Desjardins is his host. It's really Amos.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni/Sibling Yin-Yang: It can actually go either way. Normally, Sadie, being more brash in contrast to reserved and bookish Carter, clearly seems to be the red. However, Carter shows more of the impulsiveness seen in the "red" when in combat partially due to being the host of the warrior god Horus.
  • Running Gag: Magic penguins and the elemental magic of cheese.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: In all fairness, most of the liberties taken with the myths were probably to make the whole thing less...incestuous, but there is one mistake: Ammit the Devourer should be female.
    • This is actually lampshaded in The Serpent's Shadow.
  • Sealed Cast in a Multipack: The Gods of Ancient Egypt.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: When Julius attempted to summon Osiris, he released him along with his four siblings, one of which was Set.
  • Sequel Hook: "Should further recordings fall into my hands, I will relay the information."
    • At the end of the Carter/Percy Jackson crossover The Son of Sobek Carter gives Percy the means to call on him again, should another team-up be required.
  • Shared Universe: The references under Crossover Cosmology imply that the book is set in the same universe as the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
    • Word of God states that they are in the same universe, and that the events of The Red Pyramid happen almost directly after the events of The Last Olympian.
    • Drew and Lacy, daughters of Aphrodite, go to the same school as Sadie and the other magicians of Brooklyn House. Sadie comments that Lacy mentioned their 'summer camp' that they attended. She also mentions investigating reports of magic activity on Long Island.
    • A short story at the end of the paperback edition of The Serpent's Shadow is an outright crossover between the two series.
  • Shipper on Deck: Sadie, to Carter and Zia
  • Shout-Out: To Percy Jackson, of course. "Manhattan has other problems. Other gods. It's best we stay separate."
    • There's also the incident where they meet Thoth, who complains about how he used to get confused with Hermes.
    • Carter also sees a winged horse that he thought was an illusion because of the magic security system.
    • During a fight with some water demons in the Nile, Carter wishes to himself that he had the powers of a sea god.
    • Also to Doctor Who as one of Sadie's shabti was a thermos with googly eyes that yelled Exterminate! She was raised in England. Plus she mentions Jelly Babies later on.
    • And the other other work that involves cows with lasers is Gunnerkrigg Court.
    • Anubis wears Arcade Fire and The Dead Weather t-shirts.
    • Sadie listens to the music of Adele.
    • Carter gets to wear Pokémon pajamas.
    • To Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: "I am a magician of the house of life. We are TRAINED to fight gods."
  • Soap Punishment: In The Throne of Fire, Carter says that Sadie called Apophis some names that if their grandmother heard them would cause her to wash Sadie's mouth out with soap for a year.
  • So Proud of You: Julius and Ruby at the end.
  • Summon to Hand: Carter can pull his khopesh out of the Duat if he needs it. It takes some time to get down pat but he can do it effortlessly by the time of the third book. Sadie is much less adept at this.
  • Super Mode: Carter, other combat magicians and most gods have a combat avatar, a gigantic energy form that surrounds them and gives them enhanced strength and durability at the cost of being slow and requiring a lot of energy to sustain.
  • Magician School: The training of young magicians in the First Nome.
  • Khopesh And Sorcerer: Carter and Sadie are starting to look like this.
  • Talk About the Weather
  • Talking in Your Dreams
  • Team Mom: Bast.
  • Together in Death: Julius(Osiris) and Ruby Kane
  • Too Dumb to Live: Quite often, Sadie thinks this of her brother, rather hypocritically.
  • Tsundere: Sadie is just Type A all the way, especially around Anubis.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Bast, in the end. Also....
    Sadie: You got your head cut off?
  • Unreliable Narrator: Each Kane sibling accuses the other of being this.
  • The Verse: Shares one with Percy Jackson and the Olympians and its sequel series The Heroes of Olympus.
  • Weirdness Censor: Magicians use simple, easy magic to change the appearance of things from mortals, who see what they think is real.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Apparently certain parts of the Duat will melt puny human senses.
  • You Fool!: Kwai during the final battle of the third book calls Carter and Sadie's forces idiots.
  • You Monster!:
    Sadie: You're a beast!
    Set: Really? Me?

Just WilliamChildren's LiteratureKarlsson on the Roof
Journey To ChaosUrban FantasyKate Daniels
Junior High of the DeadLiterature of the 2010sKill Decision

alternative title(s): The Kane Chronicles
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