Friday, 27 May 2011

Friday Favourite – Kingdom of the Golden Dragon by Isabel Allende

I have been a fan of Isabel Allende’s haunting adventure stories since her first book House of the Spirits. So the Muse was squealing in delight to discover she’d written this series for younger readers.

Kingdom of the Golden Dragon is actually the second book in a trilogy, which begins with City of the Beasts and continues with Forest of the Pygmies. But the three stories are complete in themselves, so you don’t really need to read them in order. In this book, Alex Cold and his friend Nadia travel with his journalist grandmother Kate (a feisty and energetic sort of grandmother!) to a hidden kingdom high in the Himalayas, where a fabled Golden Dragon tells the future to members of the royal family who know the secret of the statue. This includes the king’s son Prince Dil Bahadur (“brave heart”), who is undergoing spiritual and physical training in the mountains with a Buddhist monk, during which he learns how to fly across chasms and speak to yetis.

All is peaceful in the kingdom, until a rich and powerful westerner called the Collector plans to steal the Golden Dragon. He sends his agent to the Himalayas (on the same scary small plane as the Colds) to snatch the golden statue, and also the old king who can make the magic work. Nadia and Alex are soon caught up in the plot, and find their bravery and friendship tested to the limits as they help the prince rescue his father. Only when the Golden Dragon is returned will the kingdom be safe once more.

Translated from the Spanish, the story has a spiritual feel and a lyrical style. Even the chapters have beautiful and intriguing names such as “Three Fabulous Eggs” and “The Land of Snow and Ice”. Alex and Nadia both have totemic animals – Alex’s is a black jaguar and Nadia’s a white eagle – which they can call upon in times of need. Their adventures are great fun, and the Muse thinks the story would make a wonderful film.

The book itself is quite long at over 450 pages, so probably not one for younger readers who want a quick and easy read. But if you’re a confident reader looking for a more challenging story with beautiful language, and enjoy the kind of book that transports you to another world, you should love it – the Muse certainly approves!

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