Thursday, January 10, 2008

Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik is the second book in the Temeraire series. The fantasy world in a nutshell is that Napoleonic wars take place with dragons. In the first book in the series a Chinese dragon egg being sent to Napoleon by the Chinese is captured by the Royal Navy. The story follows a British officer Lawrence who becomes the dragons [Temeraire] captain. In the second book the Chinese demand return of Temeraire. This entails a trip to China to negotiate. Much of the book is contrasting how dragons are treated in China and England. Much of this political commentary is pretty blatant but it doesn't really detract from the story. I've complained in the past about the use of women believing that I could easily see the 19th-century British military foregoing the advantages. It does make a little more sense now apparently it's not well-known. The first time women reused was when Elizabeth I sent some of her court. I'm not sure I believe that the secret would be kept if Elizabethans were anything they were gossips, but this is a minor criticism.

The world here is quite well thought out with exactly the right amount of detail. We're not bogged down with specifications on dozens of dragon types which was something I was worried about. Novik is also getting better at describing combat. The book also introduces an antagonist I'm not sure if we really needed one but I'm willing to see where she goes with it.

The ending is perhaps a little contrived but all and all an excellent sequel.

For more Science Fiction and Fantasy book reviews take a look at My Science Fiction and Fantasy bookshelf.

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