Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 105/200
Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
Finished on 6/24/2018
Picking up where book two left off (in China, Macau) Captain Will Laurence and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are ordered to retrieve and escort a precious cargo of valuable dragon eggs from Istanbul to England. They take the Old Silk Road from China to Istanbul, crossing deserts and mountains. En route to England, they help the beleaguered Prussians battle Napoleon.
Genres: Fantasy, Dragons, Historical Fiction, Alternate History, Napoleon, Temeraire, Flintlock
A Travelog from the Gobi Desert to the Cliffs of Dover
AAAAAHHHH NAPOLEONIC WARFARE WITH DRAGONS AAAAAHHHH
Sorry about that.
This was another good book. As you may know I am a fan of the Military Fantasy genre as well as the Flintlock Fantasy genre. Here we have a stellar example of both. Laurence and Temeraire are Shanghai-ed into helping save Prussia from the evils of Napoleon, but they’re outmatched in terms of troops, guns and dragons. They’re forced to fight a series of holding actions as their troops retreat… until they’ve retreated so much that there’s no where else to retreat to (aka they lost the war). I loved how the good guys *didn’t win*.
Constructive criticism time.
I have the same complaint about errant plot with this book as I did with the first book in this series, namely that there was no consistent plot thread connecting page one with page fin. The book begins with a trek across two deserts, then a brief sojourn in Istanbul where Laurence must unravel a mystery, then the daring duo must bail out the Holy Roman Emperor in a series of desperate battles. This book consequently reads like one massive travelogue.
That said, the author did a much better job of providing an antagonist for us to root against as compared to the first novel. This antagonist was responsible for all the woes experienced in the desert, in Istanbul and in Prussia. Because of her responsibility it made the hodgepodge of plotlines function better than they did in the first where there was no antagonist.
Going forward I will be re-adjusting my expectations so that I expect more travelogues in this series in the future. It seems to be a feature of this series rather than a bug.
Recommended. So far the three books in this series have maintained a consistent quality throughout, which is great. Check out book 1 if you’re curious. This is not a good place to pick up the series (which is why I give this only a ‘recommended’ rating and not a ‘highly recommended’ rating).
Going forward I’m going to be reviewing this books less frequently. Distance makes the heart grow fonder.