|“||Wait my lord. Here's the thing. I'm not out of tricks. Ask your children over there. Ask their friends. Those kids need my help...||”|
–Setne in The Serpent's Shadow
Prince Khaemwaset, better known as Setne, is a malevolent deceased magician who appears in The Serpent's Shadow.
Setne was the son of Ramesses the Great, so he is distantly related to Carter and Sadie. He is a pathological liar, according to the god Thoth. He's a scoundrel, a traitor, a thief, and a brilliant magician. He is "Kind-of-like-Ancient-Egypt's-Robin-Hood-Merlin-and-Attila-the-Hun-rolled-into-one."
According to Thoth, he battled monsters, adventured in the Duat, conquered gods, and broke into sacred tombs. He created curses that couldn't be lifted and unearthed secrets that should have stayed buried. He, under the shadow of his father's, had made a name of his own by stealing Book of Thoth and creating complicated spells including Shadow Execration, and making a version of the Book of Overcoming Apophis which included his spells for capturing and destroying shadows.
Fortunately, he died before he could use the shadow execration to blackmail the gods for immortality as he wanted.
After death, Setne was accused of heinous crimes: he blasphemed the gods four thousand and ninety-two times (though Setne claimed it was just four thousand ninety-one because "that crack about Lord Horus was just a misunderstanding"), used magic for evil purposes, including twenty-three murders (which Setne claimed was actually self-defense) including one incident where he was paid to kill with magic (which Setne claimed was self-defense for his employer), plotted against three separate pharaohs, tried to overthrow the House of Life on six occasions, and robbed the tombs of the dead to steal books of magic.
After his death, he was sentenced to oblivion four times but managed to escape each time and sowed chaos in the mortal world before being recaptured. Among his various escapades were spreading three hundred years worth of Chaos in Egypt, the French Revolution, and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the start of World War I.
Setne first appears as a talking face in the Dallas Museum, warning Sadie that she wouldn't be able to save the Book of Overcoming Apophis and that she should instead retrieve the golden cabinet, though at the time it is not known who he is. He also said that she needs his help, but this offer expires after sunset when his trial takes place with her father who is the host of Osiris now and is cracking down on rebellious ghosts.
Later, in the Hall of Judgment, during his trial, he offers to help find Apophis' shadow to destroy the Serpent for good. Julius thinks all he wants to do is escape and cause Chaos, but Setne uses the Feather of Truth to confirm that he doesn't want Apophis to destroy the world as there is nothing in it for him and he can help. Eventually, Julius reluctantly releases Setne into the custody of Zia and Carter and he led them to the serapeum in the ruins of Memphis to find the Book of Thoth.
After coming under attack by a demonic hippo, Setne helps Carter summon Hapi who defeats the hippo and sends them to the serapeum. Setne disables the traps around the Book, but fails to tell them they will have to fight the Apis Bull while he gets the Book. Zia is able to destroy the Bull with the power of Ra and they return to the Egyptian Queen where Carter makes the mistake of giving Setne permission to give orders to Bloodstained Blade due to his concern for Zia. Setne orders the demon to take them to the Land of Demons where the shadow is and to kill Carter and Zia.
As they arrive, Setne tries to flee only to be tied up by Carter in the Seven Ribbons of Hathor. Zia kills Bloodstained Blade and they retrieve the Book from Setne. However, Zia is unable to understand the map so they are forced to trust Setne to lead them through the Land of Demons to the shadow as he can read the map and has an apparently good reason for betraying them. Setne is also able to protect them from demons with a glamour that makes them look like demons themselves. Setne leads them to the edge of the Sea of Chaos where Apophis' shadow is trapped by an obelisk and they are annoyed to discover that they only need a simple summoning spell to get the shadow when Setne told them it would be hard and they'd need his help. Setne points out its hard for him since as a ghost he can't cast many spells and they did need his help to get that far. Once Zia summons the shadow, Setne turns the glamour into a binding, revealing that he plans to take the shadow for himself and use it to force Apophis to do his bidding. Before he can do more than gloat, Sadie appears from a portal and binds Setne again then releases Carter and Zia. Sadie is able to get the shadow and they decide to take Setne with them, but when they are confronted by an army of demons, Setne somehow escapes the Seven Ribbons of Hathor and gets away with the Book of Thoth.
He later appears to congratulate Carter on the destruction of Apophis and leaves when Carter tries to recapture him. Julius later admits he expected Setne's escape but had hoped Carter could control him long enough to get his help with stopping Apophis. The Kanes are left somewhat worried by his escape, however, as he has the Book of Thoth and can do a lot of damage with it even if he can't cast all the spells since he's a ghost.
While Annabeth Chase is distracting Serapis so that Sadie can attack him, he reveals that Setne, though not calling him by name, was the one who woke him, saying that Setne did it with the Book of Thoth using spells he thought could control him. Serapis insists that now that he's awake, he's out of Setne's control and will rule the universe himself. Serapis explains that Setne woke him as part of his experiments with hybrid Greek-Egyptian magic and wants to become immortal as King Ptolemy did. During the battle that follows, Serapis mentions that no one will attain the crown of immortality as he will rule, and when he is destroyed, he tells Sadie and Annabeth that they will never attain the crown without him. Discussing things later, Sadie and Annabeth realize that not only was Setne responsible for Serapis' rise, but he was also responsible for creating the petsuchos Carter and Annabeth's boyfriend Percy Jackson had fought a few weeks before as another of his experiments with hybrid magic. Sadie believes that Setne caused both incidents to see how the demigods and magicians would react as well as testing his new abilities and his opponent's capabilities before he makes his full grab for power. The two realize that he's probably looking for Ptolemy's crown to recreate Ptolemy's attempt to become immortal and Setne would make a very dangerous and hard to stop enemy if he became a god because of how crafty he is. Sadie decides to have Brooklyn House search for the crown while Annabeth plans to have Camp Half-Blood do the same and possibly get Athena to help. The two agree to keep in touch in case they need the other's help in dealing with the threat of Setne.
Setne tries to use the Book of Thoth to get the Crown of Ptolemy from Wadjet and Nekhbet. However, the Kanes, Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase team up to defeat him with a combination of Greek and Egyptian magic. Setne is finally defeated in the end by Percy with the power of Nekhbet and the Book is taken from him as well as the crown. The four then combine their powers to trap Setne in a miniature snowglobe rather than destroying him and he is last seen running around in the globe. It is mentioned that his prison is going to become a paperweight on Carter's desk.
He has an ambitious personality, as said by Rick Riordan in his blog. However, even his name, Setne, is said to be evil. Setne is never seen without the Seven Ribbons of Hathor, the only items that keep him in check, and numerous magical precautions. He is rather persuasive, as he evaded oblivion for eons, either by getting a lighter sentence, a plea bargain or getting away. When he was alive, he'd stop at nothing to possess the secrets of the universe. He wanted to be a god, not the eye of a god, but a full-fledged immortal which Thoth admitted is actually possible, and, as revealed in The Staff of Serapis, Setne's desire is as strong as ever. Despite having a way to destroy a god or even Apophis himself, Setne never planned to actually use it to destroy one, instead of planning to blackmail them instead. Even when given the chance to destroy Apophis, he simply planned to blackmail the being instead. However, while Setne loves Chaos and causing it, he does not want the world destroyed, or at least not the whole world because he wants some for himself and is thus willing to work against Apophis to a point. Despite trying to kill Carter a few times, Setne showed some fondness for the boy, though he thought Carter was too trusting. After binding him up, Setne actually saved Carter's life by stopping him from rolling into the Sea of Chaos and promised to come back and spare Carter in his new world because of how funny and naive he found him. Setne, along with Amos, is one of the few Egyptian magicians to know about the Greek Olympian gods before Percy and Carter meet.
Setne is a rather diminutive man, with scrawny arms and legs, and his ribs show through his chest. He has a hawkish nose, heavy-lidded eyes, and dark, thick hair, slicked back with oil, not unlike Elvis Presley's. He is noted as Uncle Vinnie by Sadie Kane, which Setne later dresses as on the Egyptian Queen. He is bound by the Seven Ribbons of Hathor and glowing anti-magic hieroglyphs spiraled around him like the rings of Saturn such as Suppress, Dampen, Shut up, Powerless and Don't even think about it.
Setne was a dreaded magician, supposedly one of the greatest of all time. Even as a spirit, Setne lingered on earth, causing the French Revolution and triggering World War I. Even death did not stop Setne from exercising his mastery over magic. He fought demons, defeated gods, journeyed through the Duat, and stole books of knowledge. It is unknown if Setne used the Path of the Gods.
- Escaping: One of Setne's greatest talents was to escape and evade punishments that Osiris condemned him to. He was captured five times and escaped on each occasion. Setne used Divine Words for a reduced sentence, and killed his guards en route, escaping to the mortal world. He was even able to escape from the Seven Ribbons of Hathor, one of the most powerful magic bonds in the world.
- Magic Knowledge: Setne possessed tremendous knowledge of magic. He mastered many rare books of knowledge, which allowed him to craft new spells and increase his already prodigious talent to a higher level. He also knew a great deal about Egypt, the Duat, monsters, and gods from his extensive exploration.
- Magic Mastery: Setne was prodigiously talented in magic, mastering it to the highest possible degree. He would stop at nothing to possess the secrets of the universe- and exploit it. He created curses that couldn't be lifted by anyone, but himself and uncovered dangerous secrets. Setne had centuries of experience in magic. Despite lacking his physical body, Setne was seemingly unaffected and continued to wield magic without apparent difficulty. He mastered the Book of Thoth and claimed to be able to defeat any spell in it. Setne devoted all of his talents for his self-apotheosis.
- Essence Consumption: Using a combination of Serapis' spells to build his essence-consuming lighthouse and the older magic in the Book of Thoth, Setne can consume the essences of virtually anything, including gods and magical objects. He was able to consume the essence of Wadjet, the Cobra Goddess, and attempted to consume Nekhbet too. Setne consumed Riptide's essence, learning of Percy and Annabeth's adventures and consumed everything around him at the same time. He was able to consume a blast of white fire shot at him by Sadie and Carter's combat avatar. He even attempted to consume the very Duat itself and nearly succeeded.
- Spell Creation: Setne can create powerful variations of simple spells like the Shadow Execration. This terrified Apophis, the primordial snake of Chaos, who proceeded to swiftly destroy Setne's original works. He was also able to create effective spells utilizing Greek-Egyptian hybrid magic. Using a combination of the older magic in the Book of Thoth and Serapis' spells to create his lighthouse, Setne was able to create a spell to allow him to consume essences to become a god.
- Summoning: Using Secret Names, Setne could summon gods and make them do their bidding, against their will. He was able to summon Hapi, Nekhbet, Serapis, and Wadjet. He even planned to blackmail the gods, including Apophis, to do his work.
- Divine Words: Setne could use Divine Words, to influence anyone into his favor, similar to Charmspeak. He could lie very well.
- Atmokinesis: On Governors Island, Setne was able to create a massive hurricane while summoning Wadjet and was able to use it to restrain the goddess while he consumed her. Setne's storm also disrupted locator magic causing Carter and Sadie to have a hard time finding him, Percy and Annabeth.
- Geokinesis: While wearing the deschret which had been created by the Earth god Geb, Setne was able to cast a spell that raised earth into the air, creating coils of sand that slowed down those trying to move and burying Sadie's legs in the mud. This spell started to weaken after a few minutes and was eventually broken by Nekhbet. Setne was also able to dissolve Hindenburg into the sand while trapped under him.
- Photokinesis: While performing the spell to make himself a god, Setne creates magical lights that dance around him to help him celebrate. While being carried through the sky, one of the attacks Setne uses on Percy is flashes of light, but his combat avatar shields him. However, the constant attacks start to weaken it eventually.
- Pyrokinesis: While wearing the pschent, Setne was able to send out a powerful ring of fire that scorched an entire soccer field and could've killed Sadie and Annabeth had Percy not used Nekhbet's combat avatar to shield them. It also melted Percy's Celestial Bronze kopis sword into slag. While mid-air, Setne hits Percy with blasts of fire, but Nekhbet's combat avatar shields him. However, the constant attacks eventually start to weaken him. Setne later sends a blast of fire at Carter after being captured by Percy, but Carter easily deflects the blast with the magic rope he is holding.
- Cryokinesis: While being carried by Percy in Nekhbet's combat avatar, Setne sent out a wave of cold to try to take advantage of Percy's wet state to freeze him and weaken him in a subtler attack. After a difference of opinion causes Percy to lose hold of Nekhbet, Setne is able to use an explosion of cold to shatter his combat avatar.
- Setne was capable of appearing in walls and could teleport.
- He could magically change clothes.
- Setne could negate invisibility spells.
- He could seemingly read thoughts and listen to gods when they are in their hosts.
- Setne can throw magical curses and can control the elements to a certain extent.
- He can slow down the thoughts of his opponents, weakening their defenses.
- Setne can magically regenerate his appendages.
- He could utilize Glamour Magic.
- Setne could use hybrid Greek-Egyptian magic.
In History and Mythology
Long after his death, he was incorporated into mythology, and, unlike in the novels, was portrayed as a hero. While in one instance he did steal the Book of Thoth, he was warned by the ghosts of the previous thief and family, and eventually, he returned the book after seeing a dream of what was to come if he didn't (being seduced by a beautiful woman into divorcing his wife and killing his children only to discover the woman to be a withered corpse).
In another myth, he had a skilled son who was actually an incarnation of a powerful magician to save Egypt from a Nubian magician.
He also took a trip to the afterlife with his son in another myth, learning that a rich man's elaborate funeral does not make up for any wicked deeds the wealthy man did in life.
Not many tales focusing on him have survived to this day.