Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Throne of Jade

Following up a successful debut novel is always a challenge. Thankfully Novik managed to do it beautifully managing to maintain all the things she did right with His Majesties dragon and managing to add some new notches to her bow as well.

Picking up from the previous novel, a Chinese delegation arrives in Britain having learned that the Celestial they intended to send to Napoleon has ended up in the hands of a British soldier. They angrily demand that Temeraire be returned to them. The delegation is led by the Prince Yongxing, the brother of the emperor himself but it is immediately apparent to Laurence that the delegation might not speak with one voice. To Laurence’s disgust the British government are happy enough to send Temeraire back with them, being obviously fearful of offending China which could lead to alliance between them and France. Laurence and Temeraire are forced to brave the long and dangerous voyage to China and to try keep from getting separated once they arrive.

The only criticism that could be leveled at the first book was the lack of action and major battles, this is by no means the case in the second. There are two major battles early on and then a few more later in the book. Once again Novik does an excellent job of exploring the theme different people’s reactions when confronted with ideas and customs that are altogether strange to them. This apparent on the ship voyage with the Aviators, sailors and Chinese delegates sharing the same ship and later on when the British reach China. Not to mention Temeraire’s reactions when seeing how different the lifestyle is for dragons in China. I would have liked to learn a bit more about the Celestail Dragons; their motivations and what makes them tick and especailly would have liked to have had the motivations and relationship of Prince Yongxing and his cursed (albino) dragon explored.

Overall I really enjoyed Throne of Jade and have a feeling Novik is only going to keep improving in subsequent books. 8/10.

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