Book Review: Empire Of Ivory (Temeraire, Book 4), by Naomi Novik
Author: Naomi Novik
Date Published: January, 2007
Publisher: Del Rey
Length: 404 pages, or 11 hours and 6 minutes on audiobook
Genre: Fantasy, alternate reality
Goodreads | Shelfari | Audible
Synopsis: Tragedy has struck His Majesty’s Aerial Corps, whose magnificent fleet of fighting dragons and their human captains valiantly defend England’s shores against the encroaching armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. An epidemic of unknown origin and no known cure is decimating the noble dragons’ ranks–forcing the hopelessly stricken into quarantine. Now only Temeraire and a pack of newly recruited dragons remain uninfected–and stand as the only means of an airborne defense against France’s ever bolder sorties.
Bonaparte’s dragons are already harrowing Britain’s ships at sea. Only one recourse remains: Temeraire and his captain, Will Laurence, must take wing to Africa, whose shores may hold the cure to the mysterious and deadly contagion. On this mission there is no time to waste, and no telling what lies in store beyond the horizon or for those left behind to wait, hope, and hold the line.
My Rating: ★★★ 1/2
In A Sentence: A good, thoughtful read
My Thoughts: I can really appreciate what the author is doing with this series. She's created a world using the old biases and prejudices of the 19th century, and inserted sentient, intelligent dragons into the mix. She also showed how various cultures react differently to the treatment of dragons. In the case of this novel, dragons in Africa are regarded as family members and clan leaders. Europe, England in particular, is continuously looking at dragons like they would at horses or other beasts of burden. You read these books knowing they should respect dragons more as equals, but become frustrated when they obstinately refuse to do so. The result is that you really start caring for the creatures, as well as their riders, and you want to keep reading in order to see what happens to them next.
In this way, the series is really enjoyable. In terms of being an excellent series, however, I don't know. The stories to me feel like they're meandering from one plot point to the next, with nothing feeling particularly solid. It often feels like the story is digressing from the main point, and you start to lose the main focus. I'm sure others would disagree with me here, but that's the impression I'm getting with this series; the books are just flapping their wings and flying one way and then another without really landing anywhere (haha, get it?). I do want to continue reading though (already am, this last cliffhanger was just plain evil!), and I am enjoying the series as a whole. It probably won't make it to my list of favorites, though.