After their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty's Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing urgent new orders from Britain. Three valuable dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman Empire, and Laurence and Temeraire must detour to Istanbul to escort the precious cargo back to England. Time is of the essence if the eggs are to be borne home before hatching.
Yet disaster threatens the mission at every turn -- thanks to the diabolical machinations of the Chinese dragon Lien, who blames Temeraire for her master's death and vows to ally herself with Napoleon and take vengeance. Then, faced with shattering betrayal in an unexpected place, Laurence, Temeraire, and their squad must launch a daring offensive. But what chance do they have against the massed forces of Bonaparte's implacable army?
As Captain Laurence is about to make his slow way back to England, an urgent message is delivered to him. Ultimately, his orders change so that he must hurry to Turkey to pick up three dragon eggs that England has purchased. To make it in time, Capt. Laurence, his crew, and his dragon Temeraire must travel across the uncharted expanses of land that lie between China and Turkey.
Barring some unforeseen event, this is the last book in the Temeraire series that I plan to read. In my review of book 1 (I left it out of the review for book 2) I have described before that Captain Will Laurence is a drab and uncharismatic leading man. I was hoping to see a change in his demeanor and that has not yet happened. It still may, but there are too many other books I could read instead of waiting for him to become more interesting. And to make matters worse he seems to be really affecting Temeraire. The dragon has always been a free thinker and has bucked authority, trying to balance out how obsequious Capt. Laurence is. Through three books, now the relationship is beginning to strain and it is frustrating.
When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo -- 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 Napolean, 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, the captain 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.
I am through two books of the series and I am conflicted. I mentioned after His Majesty's Dragon that I love Naomi Novik's dragons. While that still holds true, I now wonder how much, if at all, I truly love the rest of the story.
Throne of Jade is over 400 pages long and I felt like very little happened for the first (roughly) 300 pages. Once it was time for the few important events to take place, they happened so abruptly I wondered if they were as important to the story as they seemed that they should be.
Ms. Novik brought dragons into our world in the first book and here she broadened our horizons with a look at dragons from the far ends of the Earth. I will continue to read the series, at least for now. But I am beginning to wonder if it is the idea that I love and not its execution. It may become difficult to get through what is now already a five-book series if I cannot get excited about what happens on dragonless pages.
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleanic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain's defense by taking to the skies...not aboard aircraft but atop the might backs of fighting dragons.
When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future -- and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarefied world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France's own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte's boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
I loved Naomi Novik's dragons. It is always interesting to see a different author's take on the fabled creatures. She wrote hers with grace. Novik's dragons are strong, intelligent (well some are anyway) and incredibly charming. However, I feel like she spent so much time creating these dragons who interact in this war-time environment that....well, she didn't have enough time left over for other development. We get to know both Captain Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, well. Beyond them, there is little-to-no character depth. The fight scenes are slightly hard to follow in the minute military details, but they are still exhilirating. It is such a fresh perspective to imagine dragons used as legitimate means of war. I also felt that those same fight scenes were over as quickly as they began. I am not sure I would actually want them to be any longer, but the feeling I had was that they were very abrupt encounters.
I thought that the rigidity with which Laurence adhered to codes of honor was beginning to get old, but seemingly at the right moment it was brought up less often. He was hard to enjoy for how quick he was to defend his honor and that of others, but he does relax some.
I feel like Ms. Novik wanted to write Temeraire as a female dragon, but for her self-imposed limitation that female dragons want female riders, and a male protagonist had been chosen. Too often I felt like I read exchanges between Temeraire and Laurence as male-to-female interaction only to be reminded of Temeraire's gender a moment later. It might have been how frequently Laurence called him "My dear."
It may just be the dragon lover within me that enjoyed this new take, but the book was still entertaining. It is the inaugural installment in a series that I will continue to read. I am hoping for additional character development and maybe some closure in my battle scenes, but I won't hold my breath.