Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 101/200
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
Finished on 6/21/2018
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.
Genres: Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy, Temeraire, Historical Fiction, Dragons, Alternate History, High Fantasy
Temeraire and Laurance Travel Across the World
A successful followup to a strong first book.
Temeraire is a Chinese Dragon in Britain, and the Chinese are mad about it. They want him back, and are willing to do anything to accomplish their goal.
This book’s strength is it’s in deep worldbuilding. We have multiple varieties of British, French and Chinese dragons, each with their own species details. This is a world where a Canadian dragons and Incan dragons can visit Napoleonic Europe. Do you like dragons? Because this has dragons. Dragons, dragons, dragons, dragons, dragons.
The characters are another strength. Everyone from Temeraire to Roland have consistent characterization and are usually fun to be around. Their dialog isn’t the best in the business, but none of the characters committed the sins of being boring or forgettable. I would have enjoyed it if the dialog was a little bit better/more snarky, but you can’t have everything.
The plot was stronger here than in the first. There was a consistent antagonist from page one to the final page, which made it easier to sink into the story.
I will say that there wasn’t much combat in this, and the Napoleonic Aerial Combat was one of my favorite parts of the first book, so at times the pacing was a tiny bit slow. That said, I did like the slowness of the book because it made for a fairly relaxed read, and the fact that the stakes weren’t through the roof.
I liked the social commentary. We have Temeraire question Britain’s part in the slave trade, and then finally come to the unfortunate conclusion that he (as well as all British dragons) are slaves. I wonder where this will go in future books?
To throw in some constructive criticism, the prose of the book was functional when it should have been beautiful. We have descriptions of China’s beauty, but I was never really impressed.
Do I recommend it? On this book’s own it doesn’t make any sense. This book exists as a followup to the first book. However I thoroughly enjoyed both this and that book, so by all means read both.