As I’ve noted here before, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels imagine not only that the Olympian gods and demi-gods continue to exist in the 21st-century, but also that Mt. Olympus has been relocated in the sky above the Empire State Buildings, where it is invisible to all mortals. Part of the pleasure of reading the series is to see the way in which Riordan transforms the familiar characters and stories of Classical Greece into modern day: Medusa in New Jersey, Scylla and Charybdis in the Bermuda Triangle, the entrance to the underworld in Hollywood, and more — culminating in a what amounts to a restaging of the Trojan War in Manhattan in the final book of the series.
In his latest series, the Kane Chronicles, Riordan takes up the challenge of updating a set of stories that will be far less familiar to his readers: the myths of ancient Egypt. A famous African American archeologist named Julius Kane inadvertently unleashes the god Set, who then sets in motion a plan for world domination. It’s up to Kane’s kids, Carter and his half-sister Sadie, to put things right. Appropriately enough, we learn in The Red Pyramid, the first installment in the series, that a less familiar borough of New York turns out to be a center of Egyptian power. This excerpt comes just after the young Kanes have been rescued in London by their uncle Amos. They’ve just traveled by rather unorthodox means across the Atlantic:
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 skyline