Naomi Novik






Second of the Temeraire Series
Del Ray, April 2006
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Historical Fantasy, Nineteenth Century

An independent-minded dragon, Temeraire can't be expected to give up his human companion Captain Laurence and go meekly back to China where he was bred. Yet that is what the British Admiralty orders. A twenty-ton dragon is not easily balked. When Temeraire goes to China, so does Laurence.

The haughty Prince Yongxing, brother of the Emperor of China, has sailed from the other side of the world to demand Temeraire’s return. Now that he has a captive audience aboard Britain’s dragon-transport ship, he is determined to convince Temeraire that only China can give a high-class dragon everything he deserves. Laurence watches Yongxing’s courtship uneasily. He knows Temeraire’s loyalty, but is Britain really the right home for him? No other country treats dragons the way China does.

In China, the political intrigue is deep enough to sink a simple Captain. Prince Yongxing has more in mind than the reclamation of Temeraire. The Prince despises the efforts of the British envoy Arthur Hammond to set up trade between China and Britain. Laurence thinks that Hammond with his secretive maneuvering shows no understanding of reality. Meanwhile, Temeraire is finding his own friends, away from Laurence.

The fabulous, dragon-based Chinese culture of THRONE OF JADE will stay in readers’ minds for a long time. In addition to desperate, hair-raising adventures, THRONE OF JADE is full of eye-opening images: a night attack by a Fleur-de-Nuit dragon; the decorated Chinese pavilions in which dragons sleep in comfortable piles; the glistening albino dragon Lung Tien Lien from whom all others draw back, “a white ghostly shadow coalescing from the silver rain.”

I am impressed with author Naomi Novik’s ability to make a battle both exciting and understandable, whether at sea or on dragonback. Night ambushes, sudden switchbacks, navigating the wind, repelling of boarders, will set your heart pounding. The battle movements look just as effective as they should be. THRONE OF JADE and its predecessor, HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON, will feed an adrenalin addiction. Yet while she is managing all this, she never loses sight of her main characters. The affection between Temeraire and Laurence is as strong as ever, even though Temeraire is finding a new purpose in life.

When Del Rey Books first got its hands on HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON, it asked for two more books to follow it. The three have been published in rapid-fire, only a month apart. It is an uncommon strategy, one likely to stir up deserved attention. The third, BLACK POWDER WAR, has just been released, and three more books are contracted. Don’t forget: Naomi Novik and the dragon Temeraire.

July 2006

[Sep 23, 2006 Note: The Hollywood Reporter reports that Peter Jackson has optioned the Temeraire series.]


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