Study Guide

The Red Pyramid Revenge

By Rick Riordan


"Osiris became an undead god, a half-living shadow of my father, fit to rule only in the Duat. But his loss gave me anger. Anger gave me the strength to defeat Set and take the throne for myself. You must do the same." (26.137)

Horus is pretty much motivated solely by vengeance. This is bad for Carter, because he's got Horus living in his head and urging him to follow the same pattern. With so much history driving him toward revenge, does Carter really have a choice in how things shake out?

"And yes, Carter, Horus, whatever you call yourself, you were so mad, you cut off her head. You were reckless, you see—about to charge Set while you were still weak, and Isis tried to stop you. That made you so angry you took your sword—Well, the point is, you almost destroyed each other before you could defeat Set." (23.135)

If Horus gets so angry that he cuts off Isis's head as revenge for delaying his fight against Set, well, that's bad news. Especially considering that Horus and Isis are supposed to work together to defeat Set in this newest incarnation, too.

"I'll guide you as much as possible," Bast promised, "but in the end, the two of you must fight. Only Horus and Isis can defeat Set and avenge the death of Osiris. That's the way it was before. That's the way it must be now." (18.70)

Even Bast, who seems to have little interest in vengeance—she's a cat; she has better things to do—knows how the story goes and doesn't question the necessity of the revenge story playing out. Does she have a choice?

"When Ra… first called Sekhmet to punish humans because they were rebelling against him… she got out of hand." (33.52)

Sekhmet's story makes us wonder: is the price of vengeance worth it? Is death and destruction a good way to punish people and teach them a lesson?

Take him while he's down, Isis urged. Burn him to ashes! (24.71)

Isis comes across as kind of bloodthirsty and vengeful here. We get that she's just looking out for herself and her family, but we also wonder whether she's perhaps a little quick to the kill.

His black eyes fixed on me, and he spoke in a completely different voice—a rasping, dry sound, like a reptile's belly scraping over sand. "This is not over, godling. All this I have wrought with a wisp of my voice, the merest bit of my essence wriggling from my weakened cage. Imagine what I shall do when properly formed." (40.60)

Apophis's words to Sadie are not precisely a direct threat, but it's pretty easy to read between the lines and imagine that Apophis isn't very happy with the godlings right now. Since one of his defining traits is that he hates all of Creation and wants to destroy everything, we can only imagine that he'll want revenge on Sadie and Carter for keeping him from enjoying that sweet, sweet destruction as soon as possible.

I can't believe Sadie's going to let me have the last word. Our experience together must've really taught her something. Ow, she just hit me. Never mind. (41.1)

Even the way Carter and Sadie interact casually shows how revenge is an everyday dynamic for competitive siblings: he says something offensive, so she hits him. And it goes on and on. Unlike the gods, however, Sadie and Carter seem able to keep their conflicts in perspective. So name-calling and shoving never seems to escalate into things like killing and dismembering. Maybe this is one reason why the magicians don't want to allow the gods to have complete control of the godlings. The gods are a pretty hotheaded, irresponsible bunch.

"What happened?" "Punishment for bearing my children… I disobeyed Ra's wishes, and so he ordered my own father, Shu… to keep us apart, forever. I am exiled to the sky, while my beloved Geb cannot leave the ground." (20.53-58)

Here's another prime example of the gods doling out punishment as a form of vengeance for disobeying orders. We feel for Nut, separated from her beloved for daring to go ahead and have her children. Are Geb and Nut different from Iris and Osiris? They both care about their families, but do they care about them in different ways?

Give me control, Horus urged. We will avenge him. (37.20)

Horus seems to have vengeance on the brain. That, or it's a ploy to get Carter to yield control of his body. Or possibly both.

"Set had been an important lieutenant to Ra, but he could not bear to see his brother Osiris become king. This made Set and Osiris enemies, and here we are five millennia later, still fighting that way, all because of Isis." (23.150)

What started this pile of awful revenge so long ago? It was Isis's hunger for power, according to Thoth. But it could also have been the jealousy between brothers Set and Osiris, or the fact that nobody ever forgives or forgets in this pantheon.