© Isabel Allende, cover art © Cliff Nielson.
This is the third book of a trilogy about Alex Cold, his grandmother Kate, and their friend from the first book, Nadia Santos, and it’s their third adventure and third continent. I previously reviewed “City of the Beasts” and “Kingdom of the Golden Dragon.” Kate is an explorer of sorts, working as a reporter on expeditions to seldom-visited or unknown parts of the world, and her companions are along again for the adventure, this time in the heart of Africa.
I wasn’t sure if I would like this book as well as the first two. It’s the shortest of the three, and Africa doesn’t have the same resonance for me it once did because of the many wars and social upheavals there in the past few decades, not to mention the rapidly disappearing wildlife. I had to wonder if I could be convinced there really was any unexplored territory there to find adventure in, but the author succeeded in making it work for me by not dodging those issues, and instead incorporating them.
The area the explorers find themselves in, as the title suggests, is home to Africa’s pygmies, but also to a vicious warlord who has enslaved and taken control of the pygmies by capturing and holding their women and children, and the other non-pygmy natives are equally under his thumb, with the help of some well-armed mercenaries and a powerful magician. With the explorers is a missionary coming to investigate the disappearance of fellow missionaries in this same area, and only the fact that Kate is a persuasive talker keeps the group out of trouble at first. Soon, though, Alex and Nadia are off in the jungle with the pygmies, learning their ways and encouraging them to revolt against the evil warlord. With Nadia and Alex’s totemic animal spirits to help, the local wildlife seems ready to join the battle, but there are many twists and turns in this exciting story, and the journey everyone involved must take is a complicated one.
I liked this book as well as the first one, perhaps a little more than the second, but all are good reads and recommended. They’re an interesting combination of thriller and nature story with a dollop of new age fantasy/magic.