Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Review:Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

The third book in the Temeraire series picks up right where the last one left off. A fire leaves the Alliance gutted, leaving Laurence, Temeraire and their crew seemingly stranded in China for a few months longer while repairs are made. That same day they receive urgent orders to hurry to Istanbul and escort three dragon eggs back to Britain that have been purchased from the Turks. With the aid of their guide Tharkay, a half-British, half-Chinese adventurer they set off along the treacherous land route. However things are not as they seem in Istanbul and after a headlong flight the crew find themselves embroiled in the war in Prussia. Napoleon’s forces are aided by the outcast Chinese dragon Lien who is now seeking revenge against Temeraire.

The third book expands on the political aspects of Throne of Jade with Temeraire expanding his ideas on dragon equality with humans. It is certainly interesting to see how dragons from different countries react to his ideas, and Temeraire certainly doesn’t always get the reaction he was hoping for. An interesting addition was a group of feral dragons, who also serve as something of a comic relief though thankfully not one that is over the top. All of the aspects that made the first two books so good are certainly present in this volume. My only major criticism is that the basic structure of the first half of the book is essentially the same as that in the second: Temeraire and crew set off on a harrowing journey to an exotic local, they then arrive and are made ‘guests’ but of course are glorified prisoners. It is a minor blemish and hopefully something that won’t be repeated too often in future installments.

In sum Black Powder War is a welcome addition to the Temeraire series. 8/10.

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