Finished April 15
The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo, read by John Keating
This is the first book in the Chronicles of the Red King series, a series linked to the Charlie Bone books. The story is introduced by Charlie as he looks back to his ancestor the Red King, and follows the boy Timoken as he finds his peaceful African kingdom attacked by monstrously evil creatures intent on getting access to all that is magical. Timoken's parents give santuary to a small fearful creature called a jinni, the last of his kind, who in turn gives them gifts for Timoken and his sister Zobayda. As the evil creatures attack their kingdom, Timoken and Zobayda's mother packs them a bag, gives brief instructions and sends them flying to safety.
Zobayda has a magical ring that warns and protects, and Timoken has the moon cloak as well as magician powers bestowed by the jinni. The two children are on the run as they are pursued for the cloak and a flask of a magic elixir.
Their journey takes them north and east, across deserts, past forests, and over mountains and lakes. The two befriend a camel and take him on as part of their small family. The magic protects, but the two must also show courage and fight for what is right and good as they encounter evil after evil.
I enjoyed this wonderful, magical tale, loving Timoken's reactions as he discovers his new capabilities and sharing his sadness as he loses those dear to him. A great beginning to the series.