Leopards' Gold (Chronicles of the Red King Book 3), by Jenny Nimmo (Scholastic, 2013), continues the saga of Timoken, who left his African home 300 years ago, and who has now established a magical castle in Britain. But even the magic of Timoken and all his companions can't keep his family safe from treachery.
Petrello is one of Timoken's younger sons, watching as his siblings come into their inheritance of magic, and wondering if he will ever manifest a gift of his own, and Leopards' Gold is primarily his story. When his father is captured by an evil spirit, the more mundane forces of the real world close in, and it's no longer clear who within the castle can be trusted, Petrello finds himself in the role of hero....whether he wants it, or not.
This is one of those third books in a series that works best for those who have books 1 and 2 fresh in their minds. Readers who remember everyone will enjoy seeing them again, and there is plenty of magic to add interest. The plot is kind of a piling on of bad things, and not that subtle, but it works well enough.
However, the shear number of characters means it was hard be convinced I was caring about them as individuals. The book really is excessive in this regard--surely nine siblings gives one plenty of scope, without having to bring in two more orphaned kids to add to the mix. Though I have read books 1 and 2, it was a while ago....and I kept getting distracted from the main thrust of the story by a feeling that I was at a family reunion of someone else's family.
I was also bothered by the fact that Timoken and his wife are pretty awful parents. I myself would try to take steps not to let my kids grow up into psychopathic sadists with magical powers (and in fact I'm doing well on that front). Some of these kids do nasty, bullying things to each other that everyone just shrugs off, and it was not nice.
So in any event, I enjoyed the first book of the series (The Secret Kingdom) lots, the second (The Stones of Ravenglass) was fine, but this third one just didn't work for me.
Disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.