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Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a research experiment at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them Set has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
Author: Rick Riordan
Book #1 of Series: Kane Chronicles
Published year: 1986
The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles #1) Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a quot;research experimentquot; at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives. Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them mdash;Setmdash; has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
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IT’S CARTER AGAIN. SORRY. We had to turn off the tape for a while because we were being followed bywell, we’ll get to that later.
Sadie was telling you how we left London, right?
So anyway, we followed Amos down to the weird boat docked at the quayside. I cradled Dad’s workbag under my arm. I still couldn’t believe he was gone. I felt guilty leaving London without him, but I believed Amos about one thing: right now Dad was beyond our help. I didn’t trust Amos, but I figured if I wanted to find out what had happened to Dad, I was going to have to go along with him. He was the only one who seemed to know anything.
Amos stepped aboard the reed boat. Sadie jumped right on, but I hesitated. I’d seen boats like this on the Nile before, and they never seemed very sturdy.
It was basically woven together from coils of plant fiberlike a giant floating rug. I figured the torches at the front couldn’t be a good idea, because if we didn’t sink, we’d burn. At the back, the tiller was manned by a little guy wearing Amos’s black trench coat and hat. The hat was shoved down on his head so I couldn’t see his face. His hands and feet were lost in the folds of the coat.
“How does this thing move?” I asked Amos. “You’ve got no sail.”
“Trust me.” Amos offered me a hand.
The night was cold, but when I stepped on board I suddenly felt warmer, as if the torchlight were casting a protective glow over us. In the middle of the boat was a hut made from woven mats. From Sadie’s arms, Muffin sniffed at it and growled.
“Take a seat inside,” Amos suggested. “The trip might be a little rough.”
“I’ll stand, thanks.” Sadie nodded at the little guy in back. “Who’s your driver?”
Amos acted as if he hadn’t heard the question. “Hang on, everyone!” He nodded to the steersman, and the boat lurched forward.
The feeling was hard to describe. You know that tingle in the pit of your stomach when you’re on a roller coaster and it goes into free fall? It was kind of like that, except we weren’t falling, and the feeling didn’t go away. The boat moved with astounding speed. The lights of the city blurred, then were swallowed in a thick fog. Strange sounds echoed in the dark: slithering and hissing, distant screams, voices whispering in languages I didn’t understand.
The tingling turned to nausea. The sounds got louder, until I was about to scream myself. Then suddenly the boat slowed. The noises stopped, and the fog dissipated. City lights came back, brighter than before.
Above us loomed a bridge, much taller than any bridge in London. My stomach did a slow roll. To the left, I saw a familiar skylinethe Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building.
Sadie looked as green as I felt. She was still cradling Muffin, whose eyes were closed. The cat seemed to be purring. “It can’t be,” Sadie said. “We only traveled a few minutes.”
And yet here we were, sailing up the East River, right under the Williamsburg Bridge. We glided to a stop next to a small dock on the Brooklyn side of the river. In front of us was an industrial yard filled with piles of scrap metal and old construction equipment. In the center of it all, right at the water’s edge, rose a huge factory warehouse heavily painted with graffiti, the windows boarded up.
“That is not a mansion,” Sadie said. Her powers of perception are really amazing.
“Look again.” Amos pointed to the top of the building.
“How. how did you. ” My voice failed me. I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t seen it before, but now it was obvious: a five-story mansion perched on the roof of the warehouse, like another layer of a cake. “You couldn’t build a mansion up there!”
“Long story,” Amos said. “But we needed a private location.”
“And is this the east shore?” Sadie asked. “You said something about that in Londonmy grandparents living on the east shore.”
Amos smiled. “Yes. Very good, Sadie. In ancient times, the east bank of the Nile was always the side of the living, the side where the sun rises. The dead were buried west of the river. It was considered bad luck, even dangerous, to live there. The tradition is still strong among. our people.”
“Our people?” I asked, but Sadie muscled in with another question.
“So you can’t live in Manhattan?” she asked.
Amos’s brow furrowed as he looked across at the Empire State Building. “Manhattan has other problems. Other gods. It’s best we stay separate.”
“Other what?” Sadie demanded.
“Nothing.” Amos walked past us to the steersman. He plucked off the man’s hat and coatand there was no one underneath. The steersman simply wasn’t there. Amos put on his fedora, folded his coat over his arm, then waved toward a metal staircase that wound all the way up the side of the warehouse to the mansion on the roof.
“All ashore,” he said. “And welcome to the Twenty-first Nome.”
“Gnome?” I asked, as we followed him up the stairs. “Like those little runty guys?”
“Heavens, no,” Amos said. “I hate gnomes. They smell horrible.”
“Nome, n-o-m-e. As in a district, a region. The term is from ancient times, when Egypt was divided into forty-two provinces. Today, the system is a little different. We’ve gone global. The world is divided into three hundred and sixty nomes. Egypt, of course, is the First. Greater New York is the Twenty-first.”
Sadie glanced at me and twirled her finger around her temple.
“No, Sadie,” Amos said without looking back. “I’m not crazy. There’s much you need to learn.”
We reached the top of the stairs. Looking up at the mansion, it was hard to understand what I was seeing. The house was at least fifty feet tall, built of enormous limestone blocks and steel-framed windows. There were hieroglyphs engraved around the windows, and the walls were lit up so the place looked like a cross between a modern museum and an ancient temple. But the weirdest thing was that if I glanced away, the whole building seemed to disappear. I tried it several times just to be sure. If I looked for the mansion from the corner of my eye, it wasn’t there. I had to force my eyes to refocus on it, and even that took a lot of willpower.
Amos stopped before the entrance, which was the size of a garage doora dark heavy square of timber with no visible handle or lock. “Carter, after you.”
Great, another mystery. I was about to suggest we ram Amos’s head against it and see if that worked. Then I looked at the door again, and I had the strangest feeling. I stretched out my arm. Slowly, without touching the door, I raised my hand and the door followed my movementsliding upward until it disappeared into the ceiling.
Sadie looked stunned. “How. ”
“I don’t know,” I admitted, a little embarrassed. “Motion sensor, maybe?”
“Interesting.” Amos sounded a little troubled. “Not the way I would’ve done it, but very good. Remarkably good.”
Sadie tried to go inside first, but as soon as she stepped on the threshold, Muffin wailed and almost clawed her way out of Sadie’s arms.
Sadie stumbled backward. “What was that about, cat?”
“Oh, of course,” Amos said. “My apologies.” He put his hand on the cat’s head and said, very formally, “You may enter.”
“The cat needs permission?” I asked.
“Special circumstances,” Amos said, which wasn’t much of an explanation, but he walked inside without saying another word. We followed, and this time Muffin stayed quiet.
“Oh my god. ” Sadie’s jaw dropped. She craned her neck to look at the ceiling, and I thought the gum might fall out of her mouth.
“Yes,” Amos said. “This is the Great Room.”
I could see why he called it that. The cedar-beamed ceiling was four stories high, held up by carved stone pillars engraved with hieroglyphs. A weird assortment of musical instruments and Ancient Egyptian weapons decorated the walls. Three levels of balconies ringed the room, with rows of doors all looking out on the main area. The fireplace was big enough to park a car in, with a plasma-screen TV above the mantel and massive leather sofas on either side. On the floor was a snakeskin rug, except it was forty feet long and fifteen feet widebigger than any snake. Outside, through glass walls, I could see the terrace that wrapped around the house. It had a swimming pool, a dining area, and a blazing fire pit. And at the far end of the Great Room was a set of double doors marked with the Eye of Horus, and chained with half a dozen padlocks. I wondered what could possibly be behind them.
But the real showstopper was the statue in the center of the Great Room. It was thirty feet tall, made of black marble. I could tell it was of an Egyptian god because the figure had a human body and an animal’s headlike a stork or a crane, with a long neck and a really long beak.
The god was dressed ancient-style in
I stared at her in disbelief. “All right, how you can read that?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “But it’s obvious, isn’t it? The top one is shaped like the floor plan of a house.”
“How did you get that? It’s just a box.” The thing was, she was right. I recognized the symbol, and it was supposed to be a simplified picture of a house with a doorway, but that wouldn’t be obvious to most people, especially people named Sadie. Yet she looked absolutely positive.
“It’s a house,” she insisted. “And the bottom picture is the ankh, the symbol for life. Per Ankhthe House of Life.”
“Very good, Sadie.” Amos looked impressed. “And this is a statue of the only god still allowed in the House of Lifeat least, normally. Do you recognize him, Carter?”
Just then it clicked: the bird was an ibis, an Egyptian river bird. “Thoth,” I said. “The god of knowledge. He invented writing.”
“Why the animal heads?” Sadie asked. “All those Egyptian gods have animal heads. They look so silly.”
“They don’t normally appear that way,” Amos said. “Not in real life.”
“Real life?” I asked. “Come on. You sound like you’ve met them in person.”
Amos’s expression didn’t reassure me. He looked as if he were remembering something unpleasant. “The gods could appear in many formsusually fully human or fully animal, but occasionally as a hybrid form like this. They are primal forces, you understand, a sort of bridge between humanity and nature. They are depicted with animal heads to show that they exist in two different worlds at once. Do you understand?”
Starred Review. Grade 4 9 Riordan takes the elements that made the "Percy Jackson" books (Hyperion) so popular and ratchets them up a notch. Carter, 14, and Sadie, 12, have grown up apart. He has traveled all over the world with his Egyptologist father, Dr. Julius Kane, while Sadie has lived in London with her grandparents. Their mother passed away under mysterious circumstances, so when their father arrives in London and wants to take them both on a private tour of the British Museum, all is not necessarily what it seems. The evening ends with the apparent destruction of the Rosetta Stone, the disappearance of Dr. Kane, and the kidnapping of Carter and Sadie. More insidiously, it leads to the release of five Egyptian gods, including Set, who is their mortal enemy. Carter and Sadie discover the secrets of their family heritage and their ability to work magic as they realize that their task will be to save humanity from Set, who is building a destructive red pyramid inside Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. The text is presented as the transcript of an audio recording done by both children. Riordan creates two distinct and realistic voices for the siblings. He has a winning formula, but this book goes beyond the formulaic to present a truly original take on Egyptian mythology. His trademark humor is here in abundance, and there are numerous passages that will cause readers to double over with laughter. The humor never takes away from the story or from the overall tone. A must-have book, and in multiple copies.
Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Since their mother's death, six years ago, 12-year-old Sadie Kane has lived in London with her maternal grandparents while her older brother, 14-year-old Carter, has traveled the world with their father, a renowned African American Egyptologist. In London on Christmas Eve for a rare evening together, Carter and Sadie accompany their dad to the British Museum, where he blows up the Rosetta Stone in summoning an Egyptian god. Unleashed, the vengeful god overpowers and entombs him, but Sadie and Carter escape. Initially determined to rescue their father, their mission expands to include understanding their hidden magical powers as the descendants of the pharaohs and taking on the ancient forces bent on destroying mankind. The first-person narrative shifts between Carter and Sadie, giving the novel an intriguing dual perspective made more complex by their biracial heritage and the tension between the siblings, who barely know each other at the story's beginning. The first volume in the Kane Chronicles, this fantasy adventure delivers what fans loved about the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: young protagonists with previously unsuspected magical powers, a riveting story marked by headlong adventure, a complex background rooted in ancient mythology, and wry, witty twenty-first-century narration. The last pages contain a clever twist that will leave readers secretly longing to open their lockers at the start of school. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan
by Rick Riordan
To all my librarian friends, champions of books, true magicians in the House of Life. Without you, this writer would be lost in the Duat.
C A R T E R
1. A Death at the Needle
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.
Go to the school. Find the locker. I won't tell you which school or which locker, because if you're the right person, you'll find it. The combination is 13/32/33. By the time you finish listening, you'll know what those numbers mean. Just remember the story we're about to tell you isn't complete yet. How it ends will depend on you.
The most important thing: when you open the package and find what's inside, don't keep it longer than a week. Sure, it'll be tempting. I mean, it will grant you almost unlimited power. But if you possess it too long, it will consume you. Learn its secrets quickly and pass it on. Hide it for the next person, the way Sadie and I did for you. Then be prepared for your life to get very interesting.
Okay, Sadie is telling me to stop stalling and get on with the story. Fine. I guess it started in London, the night our dad blew up the British Museum.
My name is Carter Kane. I'm fourteen and my home is a suitcase.
You think I'm kidding? Since I was eight years old, my dad and I have traveled the world. I was born in L.A. but my dad's an archaeologist, so his work takes him all over. Mostly we go to Egypt, since that's his specialty. Go into a bookstore, find a book about Egypt, there's a pretty good chance it was written by Dr. Julius Kane. You want to know how Egyptians pulled the brains out of mummies, or built the pyramids, or cursed King Tut's tomb? My dad is your man.
Of course, there are other reasons my dad moved around so much, but I didn't know his secret back then.
I didn't go to school. My dad homeschooled me, if you can call it "home" schooling when you don't have a home. He sort of taught me whatever he thought was important, so I learned a lot about Egypt and basketball stats and my dad's favorite musicians. I read a lot, too--pretty much anything I could get my hands on, from dad's history books to fantasy novels--because I spent a lot of time sitting around in hotels and airports and dig sites in foreign countries where I didn't know anybody. My dad was always telling me to put the book down and play some ball. You ever try to start a game of pick-up basketball in Aswan, Egypt? It's not easy.
Anyway, my dad trained me early to keep all my possessions in a single suitcase that fits in an airplane's overhead compartment. My dad packed the same way, except he was allowed an extra workbag for his archaeology tools. Rule number one: I was not allowed to look in his workbag.
That's a rule I never broke until the day of the explosion.
It happened on Christmas Eve. We were in London for visitation day with my sister, Sadie.
See, Dad's only allowed two days a year with her--one in the winter, one in the summer-because our grandparents hate him. After our mom died, her parents (our grandparents) had this big court battle with Dad. After six lawyers, two fistfights, and a near fatal attack with a spatula (don't ask), they won the right to keep Sadie with them in England. She was only six, two years younger than me, and they couldn't keep us both--at least that was their excuse for not taking me.
So Sadie was raised as a British schoolkid, and I traveled around with my dad. We only saw Sadie twice a year, which was fine with me.
[Shut up, Sadie. Yes--I'm getting to that part.]
So anyway, my dad and I had just flown into Heathrow after a couple of delays. It was a drizzly, cold afternoon. The whole taxi ride into the city, my dad seemed kind of nervous.
Now, my dad is a big guy. You wouldn't think anything could make him nervous. He has dark brown skin like mine, piercing brown eyes, a bald head, and a goatee, so he looks like a buff evil scientist. That afternoon he wore his cashmere winter coat and his best brown suit, the one he used for public lectures. Usually he exudes so much confidence that he dominates any room he walks into, but sometimes--like that afternoon--I saw another side to him that I didn't really understand. He kept looking over his shoulder like we were being hunted.
"Dad?" I said as we were getting off the A-40. "What's wrong?"
"No sign of them," he muttered. Then he must've realized he'd spoken aloud, because he looked at me kind of startled. "Nothing, Carter. Everything's fine."
Which bothered me because my dad's a terrible liar. I always knew when he was hiding something, but I also knew no amount of pestering would get the truth out of him. He was probably trying to protect me, though from what I didn't know. Sometimes I wondered if he had some dark secret in his past, some old enemy following him, maybe; but the idea seemed ridiculous. Dad was just an archaeologist.
The other thing that troubled me: Dad was clutching his workbag. Usually when he does that, it means we're in danger. Like the time gunmen stormed our hotel in Cairo. I heard shots coming from the lobby and ran downstairs to check on my dad. By the time I got there, he was just calmly zipping up his workbag while three unconscious gunmen hung by their feet from the chandelier, their robes falling over their heads so you could see their boxer shorts. Dad claimed not to have witnessed anything, and in the end the police blamed a freak chandelier malfunction.
Another time, we got caught in a riot in Paris. My dad found the nearest parked car, pushed me into the backseat, and told me to stay down. I pressed myself against the floorboards and kept my eyes shut tight. I could hear Dad in the driver's seat, rummaging in his bag, mumbling something to himself while the mob yelled and destroyed things outside. A few minutes later he told me it was safe to get up. Every other car on the block had been overturned and set on fire. Our car had been freshly washed and polished, and several twenty-euro notes had been tucked under the windshield wipers.
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