Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Kane Chronicles

Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

Red Pyramid: starts with a blast. Carter and Sadie visit the Egyptian exhibit at the British Museum where their father touches the Rosetta stone, unleashing the Egyptian gods into the world again. We find out the divine need mortal vessels to interact with the world, a major difference from the Percy Jackson books. They must stop Set from gaining control of the world with his Red Pyramid, which is his seat of power. 

Throne of Fire: Carter and Sadie team up with new recruits with magical powers to find Ra and restore him to his rightful place. Things don’t go to plan, sacrifices are made, hearts broken, and secrets revealed.

Serpents Shadow: the Kane kids and friends must do battle with Apophis to restore order to the world while his agents try to destroy their homes. 

Al in all the Kane books are fun but were not as well liked by most of the readers I walked with, the Egyptian myths are great but get watered down a bit more than the Greek myth of the Percy books. There is not as much cultural cross over to engage the readers, growing up the only experiences I had with the myths were being terrified at the museum by the mummies and seeing them chase Shaggy and Scooby, whereas the Greek monsters are everywhere in American culture. The children’s books are starting to catch up lore wise, the 39 clues series takes us to Egypt in their book Beyond the Grave by Watson and the Tombquest series by Northrop where the main character dies and his mother brings him back to life using the Lost spells from the book of the dead. 

Rick Riordan did write three crossover short stories. Son of Sobek, Percy and Carter meet up and fight a giant crocodile as well as have a scuffle themselves. Staff of Serapis where Annabeth and Sadie fight against a old foe using both Greek and Egyptian magic. And Crown of Ptolemy where all four children team up and try to bash evil in the face, the short stories are amazing because it combines both myth structures into a shared world and has future ramifications. 

The next book Rick Riordan is releasing is Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard book one: the Sword of Summer. I am a bit excited about this new series, Greek myth has always been my favorite but Nordic myth is my runner up. We should be seeing loads of giants and trolls as well as more crossovers with the other myths, Magnus and Annabeth are cousins and from the preview chapter it seems she is trying to find him.  

Bringing mythology to the classroom is a great idea. It gives us a glimpse of history as well as helping kids find wonder, giving them both heroes and monsters they will remember for a lifetime. Egyptian and Greek influences can be found everywhere in our modern world from architecture to video games, to terrible music videos. I realized late in the game my intense love of monsters and myth as far as classes went in college but now most of my art and creative energy is directed towards myth and making my own stories.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Heroes of Olympus

Heroes of Olympus By Rick Riordan

Lost Hero: starts with Jason, a demigod with no memories of where he came from ending up with Piper and Leo, Two other demigods, who seem to have their memories modified to remember Jason. They end up in Camp Halfblood and meet Annabeth who seems to have lost her Percy. After lineages are sorted out they must travel across the country to save Hera. 

Son of Neptune: starts with a familiar narrator, Percy, having no memory of who he is or where he is from except someone named Annabeth is important to him. He finds a camp of kids descended from the Roman gods and goddesses and must help them recover the lost standard of the Roman legion. He teams up with Frank and Hazel and Nico makes a cameo. 

Mark of Athena: Both groups of campers team up head to the seat of power in ancient Greece, on the way relationships blossom and chaos abounds.  Their main goal is to defeat Gaia but Annabeth is distracted by the Mark of Athena, a trail of clues left by the goddess Athena to test her children. This book was fantastic and the year wait between Mark of Athena and House of Hades was very painful.

House of Hades: Percy and Annabeth fight their way across Tartarus trying to close the Doors of Death while the others try to find the doors in the mortal world. Hazel is amazing in this one.

Blood of Olympus: Reunited at last the final confrontation between the demigods and Gaia is in full swing.  Friends are lost and sacrifices made leading to one of the best series endings I have encountered in quite some time. 

The Heroes of Olympus books were better constructed than the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. There were more narrators with their own tales to tell in the world of reconstructed Greek and roman myths, even if a few of the kids blended together at times. There was more drama, every demigod has emotional trauma they are working through from their past that defines them. Hazel had died once already, Leo believed he killed his family with fire, Frank struggles for identity issues and a severe magical sign of his own mortality, Piper acts up to get her father’s attention, and Nico is not only displaced from time but struggles with his own sexuality. All these characters feel they are flawed or broken, but the tragedies in their past make them stronger and deeper characters. Leo will always stand out as an all-time favorite character for me. It is also neat they all are from different cultural backgrounds and nationalities, Riordan made great choices to try to include as many different connections with potential readers as possible. 

You can find out more on the series and the Author at

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Percy Jackson

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. 

The first five books are amazing. It will always be one of my all-time favorite series sold to young adults and is number two only to Harry Potter. You get a kid with what at first seems to be learning disorders such as ADHD and dyslexia but it turns out his mind is hardwired to read ancient Greek and survive odd combat situations. Percy also has a classic bit of sass when it comes to dealing with others, I found it very relatable. He does tend to run head first into his problems instead of thinking things through. He is helped by a fellow demigod Annabeth whom keeps Percy on track with his missions when he gets distracted by making a funny instead of stabbing the monsters. He is also helped by Grover, a satyr posing as a student sent to watch over Percy when he was in the normal world. Grover is pretty much Percy’s Ron... best friend. The first five books stick with Percy as the narrator. 
Lightning Thief: the young boy Percy finds out he is related to the Greek gods and must help find Zeus’s missing master lightning bolt or Zeus will go to war with the his other siblings,

Sea of Monsters: Grover has gone missing while searching for a missing artifact. Percy again breaks the rules again and he and Annabeth go looking for him with a new Ally, Percy’s half brother.

Titans Curse: Percy must keep a mythical monster from being sacrificed by the minions of Kronos. We get to meet Bianca and Nico as well as Thalia.

Battle of the Labyrinth: Percy and crew find an entrance to the famed Labyrinth and must find a way to stop it from creating passages into their camp.

The Last Olympian: war has begun, the gods are off fighting Typhon, an ancient threat to their power. While they are away the minions of Kronos march on mount Olympus. If Percy and his friends don’t stop Kronos everything they know and love will be destroyed.

You can find out more on the series and the Author at

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ranger's Apprentice

Rangers Apprentice by John Flanagan
Ruins of Gorlan: Young boy Will wants to be a knight but, like me, he is small, wiry and weighs less than the armor he longs to wear. He does however have some skills; he climbs trees to hide from his bully, he can move unseen in the shadows, and he is able to make friends easily for an orphan.  He does not know what happened to his parents other than his father died a hero and his mom died shortly after Will was born. He assumes that means his dad was a knight, hence the knightly aspirations. When he and his fellow wards must choose professions, he is tested by the strange Ranger, Halt, and proves he has the skills to be a ranger, but now he must hone those skills. He gets to ride the shortest ponies of the land, his mount is named Tug, learns marksmanship with a bow, as well as fighting with a short blade called a Saxe knife. There are bully situations and solutions, classic good against evil, and redemption. The end of this book wrecked me.
There are twelve Rangers Apprentice novels: Ruins of Gorlan, Burning Bridge, Icebound Land, Battle for Skandia, Sorcerer of the North, Siege of Macindaw, Erak’s Ransom, Kings of Clonmel, Halts Peril, Emperor of Nihon-ja, Lost Stories, and The Royal Ranger.

He also wrote The Brotherband Chronicles. These are the stories of a group of young Skandian kids fighting against a traitor with cameos of characters from Rangers Apprentice.
These books are Outcasts, The Invaders, The Hunters, Slaves of Socorro, and Scorpion Mountain.
This fall he also is starting a series of Prequel novels about Halt’s youth. The First book is called The Tournament at Gorlan.

This series is amazing for both kids and adults, fans of everything from J. R. R. Tolkien, to Brian Jaques, to George R. R. Martin. The story switches point of view with shared chapter narration and has plenty of witty banter to keep me happy. The friendships are truly what make this series both heartwarming and devastatingly heart breaking. It deals with identity, addiction, trust and new friendships.  As the series progresses, we see young Will become a hero as well as a man, and Halt go from a dower brooding loner to a loving, caring, loveable Harrison Ford like scamp. Halt is amazing, in one book he convinces Horace to joust against lesser lords in a foreign land to oust a tyrant and in the same book convinces him that the friendly girls working at the dockside establishment wearing short skirts were messengers. Another cool part of the series involves the big scary bad guy and his monster legions. The book starts with him in mid monologue to his nonverbal minions and terrorizing the land but then shortly after he and his goons are gone. By the end of Book Two, the heroes have a much greater and scarier foe to face, Humans. Humans are more monstrous than any imaginary monster we will ever face. Read it and be hooked. Also Flanagan got back at his readers for badgering him to write more books after Book Ten. Book Eleven was short stories showing cool parts of post Book Ten bliss between the characters. Again the fans emailed him relentlessly. Book Twelve started with the death of a main character and heartbreak of the worst kind. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Theft of Swords

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan starts with two “heroes”, one an idealistic swordsman tired of killing and the other a thief with no qualms with murder, hired to steal a sword from a chapel.  They trip over the dead king and realize they were set up.  Now the duo must run from the law as well as start a quest that will either destroy a kingdom or save the world. There are six titles in the series and two prequels that explain how the heroes meet and how their friendship blossoms. There is an amazing sense of humor and real character growth over the series as well. At points Royce will even ask for permission from Hadrian instead of just murdering someone whom happens to be in his way. The Princess Arista is also awesome as she grows into her spell casting potential. Of all the characters Myron is my favorite because we have a similar interest... reading! He is a monk that remembers every book he has ever read and is in the process of rewriting every book that belonged in his lost library, also when Hadrian and Royce need information they turn to Myron, he has knowledge on everything from lost civilizations, dwarven customs, architecture, to random esoteric facts. I can relate to that too well.

When I first read these, I started with Theft of Swords which contains The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha, continued with Rise of Empire, which contained Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm, and finally Heir of Novron which contained Wintertide and Percepliquis. It was a new fantasy series to me, one of my friends (Josh) left in my mailbox at work and within the first few chapters I had to buy it. After a bit, Sullivan published Crown Tower and Rose and the Thorn which took place before the other titles and we get to see how the heroes meet and learn more about Gwen, a character that is very important to the plot that we hardly get to see in the main story. He changes the roles of many of the typical fantasy races we usually see running around these days, dwarves are relatively few in number and we only see one throughout the series, elves live in their sacred realms across the river beyond the reach of humans, and goblins are terrifying and massive.  It was awesome. If you are new to the series start with Crown Tower, some of the later events will mean more to you if you read Crown Tower and Rose and the Thorn first and in the later stories they talk about the events that take place in the prequels.

He is now working on a new series about the earlier times in his world as well as a new Hadrian and Royce novel. Here is his current Kickstarter for The Death of Dulgath!
And here is his website.