Book Review: Tongues Of Serpents (Temeraire, Book 6), by Naomi Novik
Date Published: July 13, 2010
Publisher: Del Rey
Length: 274 pages, or 9 hours and 47 minutes on audiobook
Goodreads | Shelfari | Audible
Sypnopsis: A dazzling blend of military history, high-flying fantasy, and edge-of-your-seat adventure, Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels, set in an alternate Napoleonic era in which intelligent dragons have been harnessed as weapons of war, are more than just perennial bestsellers—they are a worldwide phenomenon. Now, in Tongues of Serpents, Naomi Novik is back, along with the dragon Temeraire and his rider and friend, Capt. Will Laurence.
Convicted of treason despite their heroic defense against Napoleon’s invasion of England, Temeraire and Laurence—stripped of rank and standing—have been transported to the prison colony at New South Wales in distant Australia, where, it is hoped, they cannot further corrupt the British Aerial Corps with their dangerous notions of liberty for dragons. Temeraire and Laurence carry with them three dragon eggs intended to help establish a covert in the colony and destined to be handed over to such second-rate, undesirable officers as have been willing to accept so remote an assignment—including one former acquaintance, Captain Rankin, whose cruelty once cost a dragon its life.
Nor is this the greatest difficulty that confronts the exiled dragon and rider: Instead of leaving behind all the political entanglements and corruptions of the war, Laurence and Temeraire have instead sailed into a hornet’s nest of fresh complications. For the colony at New South Wales has been thrown into turmoil after the overthrow of the military governor, one William Bligh—better known as Captain Bligh, late of HMS Bounty. Bligh wastes no time in attempting to enlist Temeraire and Laurence to restore him to office, while the upstart masters of the colony are equally determined that the new arrivals should not upset a balance of power precariously tipped in their favor.
Eager to escape this political quagmire, Laurence and Temeraire take on a mission to find a way through the forbidding Blue Mountains and into the interior of Australia. But when one of the dragon eggs is stolen from Temeraire, the surveying expedition becomes a desperate race to recover it in time—a race that leads to a shocking discovery and a dangerous new obstacle in the global war between Britain and Napoleon.
An okay installment in the series, but it dragged a bit.
Okay, this series is certainly very good and creative.....
This book dragged. Quite a bit.
Now don't get me wrong. I love Temeraire, and I love how each book focuses on him traveling to a new country (with the exception of Book 5, although he was exploring England more fully in that one). I love how each journey is different, and you learn something new about this alternate reality. And I love how the people (and dragons) who were perceived to be the weakest link, turn out to be among the strongest in the end. It's an imaginative series, and Naomi Novik has done an excellent job with world-building.
However, I found this particular story dragged a little. Okay, maybe more than a little. It was mostly just traveling through the heart of Australia, and sounding a bit like an African expedition, with it's unexpected, yet deadly issues, and never-ending change to the landscape. Novik did a similar plot already in a previous novel, but this time it went on for longer, so the pace felt much slower and a little less interesting than previous installments in this series.
I also have a little problem with the POV (point of view): sometimes it's told more from Laurence's POV, other times it's from Temeraire's POV, which is nice since I love Temeraire so much, but it gets a little confusing, at least on audiobook. I often feel a little disoriented, until several sentences in, and then I realize who's talking. This tactic of having both Temeraire and Laurence's POV worked well in Book 5, but it doesn't work as efficiently in this story.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I'll probably never read it again. There just wasn't enough here to make for a really interesting story. This isn't going to deter me from continuing the series however. I've already started Book 7, and I'll see this series to the end.