Review No.234 – Throne of Jade

Throne of Jade (Temeraire No.2) – Naomi Novak

HarperVoyager, 2007

Originally published in 2006

As Napoleon’s forces overrun Europe, England cannot spare a single dragon from its Aerial Corps, but with the discovery that Captain Laurence’s dragon Temeraire is a Celestial – China’s most valued breed – the ire of a different empire has been roused. To avoid a war on two fronts, the government is more than willing to hand over Temeraire, but Temeraire himself will not go anywhere without Laurence. Entangled in a ruthless political game and beset on all sides, Laurence may need to choose between duty and loyalty – but what will Temeraire decide?

This is the sequel to Novak’s superb first novel Temeraire, which I reviewed last year, and is equally enjoyable. Not only is the characterisation excellent – even the most alienating characters are given depth – Novak explores a wide spectrum of issues with a mixture of quiet compassion and sharp awareness. I also love the way she writes battles. Claws and teeth and wings, oh my! The series continues with Black Powder War.

Review No.125 – Temeraire

Temeraire – Naomi Novak

HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006

As Napoleon’s forces advance relentlessly across Europe, the difference between invasion and resistance may lie in a chance discovery at sea. A British ship captures a damaged French frigate and in its hold Captain Will Laurence uncovers a prize more valuable than the ship itself: an unhatched dragon’s egg. For this is a war fought from both sea and sky. Any new dragon is the greatest of assets to embattled Britain, but a hatchling chooses its own handler and will take orders from no other. When the newborn dragon ignores its offered candidate and chooses Captain Laurence instead, his life – and the tide of the war – will be changed forever.

TemeraireĀ (also known by the titleĀ His Majesty’s Dragon) is an alternative history of the Napoleonic wars in which dragons battle for the skies over the Channel, and is written with such painstaking attention to detail that I was immediately immersed in Novak’s wonderfully rich world. Her writing feels as if it could have come from the period itself, and the dragons are gloriously believable. The Temeraire series continues with Throne of Jade.