Kingdom of the Golden Dragon
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|Original title||El Reino del Dragón de Oro|
|Translator||Margaret Seyers Peyden|
Published in English
|LC Class||PZ7.A43912 Ki 2004|
|Preceded by||City of the Beasts|
|Followed by||Forest of the Pygmies|
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The plot is set in the Forbidden Kingdom, a remote Himalayan country. A Buddhist lama named Tensing takes his disciple, Prince Dil Bahadur, to the Valley of the Yeti to find some healing plants that do not grow anywhere else. They find themselves ringed by the yetis just as they drink in the sights, but the matriarch saves them and says that the fast-dwindling yetis have lost their forebears’ unparalleled mental prowess.
The lamas teach them to milk the goats so that they can feed their cubs, and it turns out that the local fountains are toxic. The beasts’ health improves once they start shunning the founts, and in order to thank the strangers they give them the plants they have asked for.
Meanwhile, Alex Cold and his grandmother Kate, an International Geographic reporter, depart from Brazil for New York. He gives her the diamond eggs that his friend Nadia has found near the Amazon and tells her to raise money for the People of the Mist—the South American tribe that he bonded with in City of the Beasts—as well as for other Indios. Kate, who questions the diamonds’ value, shows them to Isaac Rosenblat, a New York jeweler who confirms their unparalleled worth; he has never seen like-sized stones. Six months later, the Diamond Foundation is set up with the help of Ludovic Leblanc, an anthropologist who is Kate’s nemesis. Now tasked with writing about the Forbidden Kingdom, she takes Nadia and Alex with her despite her employer’s misgivings.
At the same time, the world’s second-richest man—who is called the Collector—pays a crime lord known as the Specialist to steal the kingdom’s national treasure, a golden dragon with unrivaled magical skills. The Collector wants to use its gifts of prophecy to predict stock and make himself the world’s richest man.
Soon after landing in Asia, Kate and her friends are caught up in a plot to kidnap indigenous girls. When Nadia, who is taken for a native, is captured along with her newfound friend Pema, Alex and Kate enlist the prince, his teacher, the kingdom’s forces, and the yetis to track down the abductees.
- Alex is vain but affable, and his greatest fear is losing his mother to cancer. He can morph himself into a black jaguar, which is his totemic animal.
- His closest friend is Nadia Santos, a Brazilian teenager who is never seen without Borobá, her loyal monkey. Her father César is loath to send her to Asia. She can turn herself into a white eagle and make herself invisible.
- Kate Cold’s love for Alex is undisputed; so is her dislike for sentiment.
- The 42-year-old Collector made his money in the computer market. He is greedy, lonely, and fairly uncouth despite his sharp intellect.
- The ingenious Specialist runs an organization which, thanks to his stupendous technical expertise, can murder or kidnap anyone and steal whatever his clients request. His real name is kept secret.
- King Dorji is a wise man who often lets his feelings color his judgment. His incomplete spiritual training left his mind-reading skills stunted, a flaw that marks him off from his ancestors.
- Eighteen-year-old Prince Dil Bahadur is mature but knows very little about other countries.
- Tensing prepares the prince for his duties and hones his spiritual talents.
- Tex Armadillo is a thewy American horse breeder who flies to Asia at the same time as the protagonists. Alex questions Tex’s rectitude even though he once saved his life.
- Judit Kinski is a cultured, well-traveled landscaper who the king appoints to plant tulips. She is a beautiful European with raven hair, hazel eyes, and a white forelock. The king is so enamored of Judit that he proposes to her.
- Pema is a pretty 15-year-old who determines to save her country. She and the prince end up wedding for love.
- The Specialist hires the Sect of Scorpions (also called the Blue Warriors) to steal the dragon.
- Timothy Bruce and Joel González are International Geographic photographers who come along to take shots of the statue.
- Original imprint: ISBN 0-06-059170-6 (2003 Rayo, NY)
- English editions: ISBN 0-00-717748-8 (2005 HarperPerennial, UK); ISBN 0-06-058942-6 (2004 HarperCollins, US)