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The Throne of Fire (The Kane Chronicles, #2), by Rick Riordan
"The Throne of Fire" begins approximately three months after "The Red Pyramid" ended. The djed amulet has brought around 20 new recruits to Brooklyn House, ranging from nine-year-old Felix to several unnamed college-aged students. Amos has gone back to the First Nome to recover from having been possessed by Set, leaving the college-aged students and Bast to be the adult chaperones for the kids of Brooklyn House.
As the book opens, Sadie, Carter, Khufu, and two new recruits, Walt and Jaz, are breaking into the Brooklyn Museum. Carter has had a visit from Horus telling him that Apophis will be rising in five days and that something they need to stop him is in the museum.
It turns out that the artifact they need is a scroll containing a ritual to revive Ra. One-third of the scroll is inside the statue of Khnum. This means that Sadie and Carter have less than a week to find and recover the rest of the scroll, revive Ra, and stop Apophis. This plan is complicated by the fact that the Khum statue is due to go on tour the next day. Making things even more complicated is that Sadie's thirteenth birthday is the first of those four days, and she had plans to return to London and see her friends and grandparents that day.
Sadie and Carter take three journeys in this book: Sadie goes to London, then she and Carter track down the other two-thirds of the scroll, and finally, they have to go into the Duat to attempt to revive Ra. I say "attempt" because they have to take a long journey through the hours of the night, which are both literal amounts of time and a physical place to find him. If they spend too long at any one point on the journey, they might fail.
We meet more gods in this volume, of course. While we focused on the higher-profile, royal, gods in "The Red Pyramid," in "The Throne of Fire," we meet a number of the gods that the commoners worshiped including Bes, a dwarf god, and Tawaret, a hippo goddess. We also meet Ptah, who seem to cross both the royal and common worlds, as the ultimate creator god of the universe (he spoke the universe into being) and the god of architects and as the god of carpenters.
The travelogue portion of the book is primarily centered on Egypt. We spend time in Alexandria, in Cairo, and in Bahariya, site of the Valley of Golden Mummies. We also visit St. Petersburg, Russia and, of course, London, since it would be hard for Sadie to visit her grandparents and friends in London without, you know, going to London.
One of the things that stuck out at me is that at one point Riordan seems to forget the concept behind this book. It concerns the word "uraei," the plural of "uraeus." The second time "uraei" is used, Sadie is narrating and she explains how to pronounce the word. She is supposedly dictating this into a tape recorder. Why would she need to explain how to pronounce a word that she supposedly just said aloud? Since the conceit is that Riordan has gotten hold of the tape and is transcribing it, shouldn't that note have come from the typist the first time the word "uraei" was used?
And that's my only criticism. I think it says a lot about Riordan's skill as a writer that, really, this is the only thing I can find wrong with this book after at least three readings. You will notice that many of my reviews of Riordan's books are like that -- one tiny thing that reminded me that I was reading a book, and not watching someone live their actual life and the rest of the book is otherwise amazing. This is one of the reasons that Rick Riordan is one of my favorite writers.
Edited to add: I just found out that artifacts from the Brooklyn Museum's collections did, in fact, go on a tour from 2008 through 2012. The tour was of the United States, rather than of Europe, but they did come to Riordan's hometown (and my current city of residence), San Antonio, during the Christmas 2010 season, which may well have been when Riordan was putting the finishing touches on this book.