The Serpent’s Shadow (Kane Chronicles, Book 3)
When young magicians Carter and Sadie Kane learned how to follow the path of the ancient Egyptian gods, they knew they would have to play an important role in restoring Ma’at—order—to the world. What they didn’t know is how chaotic the world would become. The Chaos snake Apophis is loose and threatening to destroy the earth in three days’ time. The magicians are divided. The gods are disappearing, and those that remain are weak. Walt, one of Carter and Sadie’s most gifted initiates, is doomed and can already feel his life force ebbing. Zia is too busy babysitting the senile sun god, Ra, to be of much help. What are a couple of teenagers and a handful of young trainees to do?
There is, possibly, one way to stop Apophis, but it is so difficult that it might cost Carter and Sadie their lives, if it even works at all. It involves trusting the ghost of a psychotic magician not to betray them, or worse, kill them. They’d have to be crazy to try. Well, call them crazy.
With hilarious asides, memorable monsters, and an ever-changing crew of friends and foes, the excitement never lets up in The Serpent’s Shadow, a thoroughly entertaining and satisfying conclusion to the Kane Chronicles trilogy.
It’s taken me a long time to get around to writing this review because this is the first time I’ve ever been even remotely ambivalent about a Riordan book. Ordinarily I eat them for lunch, but this book was a little slow to get rolling. And by a little slow, I mean I was more than a little surprised when the action started. So many Important Plot Points in this book seemed to be arbitrary and accidental. The most compelling plot line was Sadie’s quest to re-call Bes’s ba, but this plotline was mired down by the other plotlines all of which were comparatively tedious and seemingly pointless in comparison. While these stories typically have multiple plotlines that only coalesce in the end, this one seems more like a torrent of chaos (no pun intended) that makes it hard to glean the golden plotlines in the center.
The love interest plotlines were galling to a certain extent in that, while I remember a fair portion of my teenage years being spent mindlessly thinking about boys, I do remember that there were other cogent thoughts going through my head at the time. Riordan reduces his characters to lovelorn simpletons and if they’re not pining away for professed loves then they are drowning in doubts with regards to their ability to save the world/humanity/their loved ones, etc, etc, etc. I will grant you that it’s important to build a bit of weakness into a character, but the amount of time Sadie and Carter spend doubting themselves is a little ham-handed.
HOWEVER, that being said, while the first half of the book is mired in toil, the second half is more typical Riordan fair. It moves at a pace that certainly qualifies as break neck. And although I’m more than a little wishy washy on the way in which Carter and Sadie save the day, I still enjoyed reading it, which is saying something. The bickering between Sadie and Carter was still endearing and periodically comical, though I’ll stop short of saying hilarious.
You know, this is really coming off as if I hated the book and that’s not accurate. I enjoyed this book, but I’m left with this feeling of disappointment that can’t be entirely explained away with the fact that it’s the last book in the series. I do mean it when I say that my favorite part of the story is Bes’s subplot. It was charming and endearing to know that Sadie would try to do a small act of good in the face of an overwhelming one. It made her more human in a very real way. Outside of this storyline, however, this book failed to truly connect in a way that I’ve grown used to with Riordan books. I know that the majority of fans will be willing to look past it, but I’m finding it difficult to do so.
I’ve heard that his next project will be Norse gods and I can’t lie, I’m excited about that. I’m just hoping that whatever was missing from this book goes into that series because I kind of love Norse mythology and I’m very interested to see what Riordan does with it.
3.5 ink bottles.
Character Believability: 4 Buffys
Character Investibility: 3.5 Doctors
Pacing/Urgency/Tension: 3.5 Dresdens
Worldbuilding: 4 Snyders
Language: 4.5 Feegles
Mystery: 2 Sherlocks