After the tumultuous events of Throne of Jade
and Black Powder War
, Captain Will Laurence and his dragon Temeraire finally return to England, only to find that disaster has struck in their absence. Almost every British dragon has contracted a mysterious illness; none of them are able to fight Napoleon’s advancing troops, and many of them are dying. The desperate search for a cure takes Laurence and Temeraire, along with a small force of men and dragons, to Africa. There they encounter a multitude of new dangers, including feral dragons, hostile European settlers, and a powerful African tribe with a grudge; but the greatest danger of all will come from their own countrymen.
I have mixed feelings about this fourth installment in the Temeraire series. I loved Naomi Novik’s writing style, as usual; I think she captures the Napoleonic War era brilliantly. It was also fun to watch Laurence and Temeraire encounter yet another foreign land and adapt to its unfamiliar wildlife, people, and customs. However, I think the book has some pacing issues. The middle seems to drag on and on, and then several very important things happen in the last 60 pages or so. I have to admit that the ending packs a real punch, and I can see how the entire plot of the novel leads up to it, but most of the book just felt like a set-up for the ending. Still, I’m glad to be getting back into this series, and it’s on to Victory of Eagles