The Secret Kingdom: Leopards' Gold by Jenny Nimmo

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The Secret Kingdom: Leopards' Gold by Jenny Nimmo

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: While it's not quite as good as Nimmo's earlier works, the strong second half gives us a satisfying conclusion to The Chronicles of the Red King trilogy and means this is worth a read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: August 2013
Publisher: Egmont
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405257343

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Warning : Spoilers for the first two books in this trilogy, he Secret Kingdom and Stones of Ravenglass, below.

Many years after the conclusion to Stones of Ravenglass, Timoken the Red King and his wife have settled down and live with their nine children in a castle which wizards Llyr and Eri turn invisible whenever danger approaches. When the castle bellman disappears and blood is found, though, the children realise that the danger could come from inside the majestic castle. Can brothers Petrello and Tolomeo solve the mystery of the disappearance and protect their family?

Having been a huge fan of Jenny Nimmo’s since I first read the Magician Trilogy many years ago, and since I really enjoyed the Charlie Bone series, I was thrilled to get my hands on the conclusion to her Chronicles of the Red King trilogy.

While it was an enjoyable read – particularly during an action-packed second half – I don’t think it ever reached the heights of her earlier books. Perhaps this is partly because the change to focus on the Red King’s children, after two books about Timoken himself, means we’re given an almost entirely new cast. Certainly, they seem rather underdeveloped as a whole – it focuses particularly on Petrello and Tolomeo, but even they don’t get the sort of character development Nimmo normally does so well. (I’m thinking in particular of Charlie, Uncle Paton and Olivia in the Charlie Bone series, but also of Timoken in The Secret Kingdom.)

That’s not to say the book doesn’t have strengths, by any means. After a rather slow start the pace picks up, the villains – even if their identities and motives are fairly easy to predict – are suitably evil, and it’s great to see a queen who’s capable of holding her own in the action. Charlie Bone fans will no doubt enjoy seeing the ancestors of much-loved (and some much-hated) characters, but if you haven’t read that series then you should still be able to follow this easily enough.

Perhaps as well, it’s my longstanding love of Nimmo’s work that’s colouring my viewpoint. I don’t think it’s up to her usual high standards, but those standards are so high that it’s still a step up from a lot of fantasy for this age range.

As a trilogy, this is strong enough overall to be worth recommending, but I wouldn’t start here – pick up The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo and if you enjoy that one carry on with the series.

Nimmo's own Charlie Bone series, starting with Midnight for Charlie Bone and concluding with Charlie Bone and the Red Knight is a stunning read, as is her The Magician Trilogy.

I think fans of this would also enjoy The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson.

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Buy The Secret Kingdom: Leopards' Gold by Jenny Nimmo at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Secret Kingdom: Leopards' Gold by Jenny Nimmo at


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