Study Guide

Ra in The Red Pyramid

By Rick Riordan


Since Ra retired to the heavens millennia ago, we don't see much of him in this story. Still, he's the sun god, so in a sense he's present every day the sun shines. According to Bast: "The sun is a ball of fire in space, yes. But its image you see as it crosses the sky, the life-giving warmth and light it brings to the earth—that was embodied by Ra. The sun was his throne, his source of power, his very spirit" (27.36).

Before his ascent to the heavens, Ra was king of the gods. Isis tricked him into revealing his secret name so she could order him to leave the throne to her husband, Osiris. We're a little skeptical as to whether Ra was actually a good ruler—he ordered Bast to fight Apophis for millennia, essentially guaranteeing their mutual destruction—but it still sounds like he got a raw deal in the end. Get it? Raw? Ra? Har har.

You can like or dislike Ra all you want, but we have a reason to care about his welfare: "Legend says the world will end when Ra gets too tired to continue living in his weakened state. Apophis will swallow the sun. Darkness will reign. Chaos will overcome Ma'at, and the Serpent will reign forever" (27.37). That sounds nasty enough to keep us rooting for Ra. Ra Ra Ra!