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Finally I got around to reading the second book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, Throne of Jade.
Whereas the first book introduces you to Temeraire and his Captain, Laurence, this second book sails away from the shores of Britain (and their conflicts with Napoleon) to distant China. The Chinese are intent on re-claiming Temeraire, a rare Celestial who (in egg) had been intended for Napoleon but the French transport was captured en route by Laurence and his crew. The Chinese certainly did not reckon on Temeraire’s fierce loyalty to Laurence – or vice versa. After a long and at times dangerous journey, will the lures of a different way of life for Dragons in the Far East prove seductive to Temeraire? Or will China prove more perilous than the way there?
This was a very enjoyable sequel to the first, though I must admit it did not capture my imagination quite as thoroughly as His Majesty’s Dragon. It WAS an interesting view of life at sea (albeit within an alternate history) during the 1800s. The first part of the book is the lead-up to them leaving, the second the ocean journey, and the third their arrival and reception in China. I really like Temeraire, and respect that he is intelligent, interested, and willing to challenge and question the status quo. Laurence, who is a bit of a stuffed shirt at times, acquits himself well in the end, though is no scholar or intellectual himself. Temeraire is also a feisty and at times impulsive character, which balances out Laurence’s gentlemanly sensibilities.
There are very few females in this book (Roland being one of the few), which is guess is typical of the era, but I’m looking forward to potentially seeing more women in the next books (if only ones you meet previously).
4 / 5 – I’m excited for the next book !
Another deviation from my usual reading, I finally picked up His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire Book 1) by Naomi Novik. This had been recommended to me by a couple friends but I’d been putting it off for no good reason.
This is a alternate history fantasy novel, set during the Napoleonic Wars and featuring (as the twist) DRAGONS. I love dragon books – I grew up on the Pern books by Anne McCaffery and the Dealing with Dragon’s books by Patricia C. Wrede. This did not fail to disappoint, although it was really different than I was perhaps expecting.
The book is written from the point of view of a British Naval Captain (turned “Aviator”) who finds himself unexpectedly saddled with a newly hatched dragon. This change rips him from his comfortable Navy life into the ranks of the Aviators – a change he dreads (at first). Laurence and his dragon Temeraire must quickly learn all that they can in order to help defend Britain from Napoleon’s invasion plans/attempts.
Naomi Novik’s writing style is a little old-fashioned – reminding me a little of maybe Tolkien or perhaps Jules Verne. It definitely worked with the setting and fit Laurence’s character very well. Laurence is a bit of a stuffed shirt – formal, stiff, duty-bound, and intolerant of disrespect. Despite that, I really liked him. He is honourable and cares for the men (and woman) under his command. He does the right thing when he needs to, and he also learns that getting “saddled” with a Dragon is not something he would trade for the world.
Temeraire is awesome. A rare, Chinese-bred dragon, he is cunning and intelligent, graceful, and adds a fresh perspective to contrast Laurence’s zeal for “duty”.
There are not many women in this book – but I am happy to say that there are at least a few that seem like strong characters. You meet two female Captains, one of whom is battle-scared and talks-like-it-is. The other, young and inexperienced, I feel has a lot of potential for being a Strong Female Character in future.
I am very happy that this is the first book in a series – which looks good and long. Yay!!
In sum: Totally different take on dragons, but completely worth the read! 4 / 5!