Author: Naomi Novik
Date Published: April 25th, 2006
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Length: 398 pages, or 11 hours and 43 minutes on audiobook
Genre: Fantasy, Alternate Reality
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When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo–an unhatched dragon’s egg–Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces. Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands–and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East–a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.
In A Sentence: A decent sequel that dragged a little in parts
My Thoughts: This story pretty much met my expectations, to tell you the truth. Knowing how many more books there are in the series, I expected that I would enjoy the story, but I wouldn't be wowed by it. And that's exactly what this novel did for me.
For myself (and perhaps because I was listening to this on audiobook), I found the trip to China long and slightly tedious. It took up the majority of the story, and while there were interesting plot points along the way, the pace felt like it dragged a bit more in this book than in the first one. I also found the "plot twists" highly predictable, and was more surprised that they happened exactly as I had guessed. I was expecting something a little more intricate, but it was very basic, and I was a little disappointed that it took the characters until the very end to figure it all out.
Negative opinions aside, I still enjoyed the story. I love reading about Temeraire and his intellectual growth and idealistic notions. He's the kind of character you would love to have a conversation with. And Laurence is a decent character too, I suppose, although I find him a little too set in his ways, and therefore much more resistant to accepting new ideas, or at least that's how it feels to me. I like watching him unbend a little more though, for Temeraire's sake, and accept new concepts that would fit very well in the 21st century (I can't help it, I'm a modernist; I like modern ideas in my stories, what can I say?). The difference in culture between China and England is also really interesting to read about. I like how we're introduced to a new way of looking at dragons; instead of looking upon them as sentient military airships, we see them instead as poets, scholars, and equals among humans. It's rather nice to look at, and you can't help but want to see if Temeraire and Laurence can positively influence England to change their way of thinking in future installments.
Overall this was a decent read, and I'm still inclined to continue reading the series (I'm already deep into Book 3), but the initial wow factor has worn off, and unless the subsequent books prove to be more interesting, I might feel inclined to drop the series after the next couple of books. But for now, I'm content to continue exploring this fascinating new version of Earth where dragons do exist.