Sunday, January 17, 2010
Review: Empire of Ivory
Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, book 4) by Naomi Novik
Reasons for reading: this series is addictive; second book for the Colourful Reading Challenge
Synopsis: "Tragedy has struck His Majesty’s Aerial Corps, whose magnificent fleet of fighting dragons and their human captains valiantly defend England’s shores against the encroaching armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. An epidemic of unknown origin and no known cure is decimating the noble dragons’ ranks–forcing the hopelessly stricken into quarantine. Now only Temeraire and a pack of newly recruited dragons remain uninfected–and stand as the only means of an airborne defense against France’s ever bolder sorties. Bonaparte’s dragons are already harrowing Britain’s ships at sea. Only one recourse remains: Temeraire and his captain, Will Laurence, must take wing to Africa, whose shores may hold the cure to the mysterious and deadly contagion. On this mission there is no time to waste, and no telling what lies in store beyond the horizon or for those left behind to wait, hope, and hold the line."
My thoughts: Another great book in this series! I usually get bored of a series after the second or third one because it starts to be the same book, but Temeraire is always going to new places and getting into new scrapes. I honestly can't imagine how he and Laurence will get out of them, it's very exciting! :-) In this book, Laurence and Temeraire discover why they were the only ones available to help Prussia against Napoleon in the previous book - all of the dragons in England are ill or dead. they have to take off to Africa, which is even more foreign than China, their previous location. I found it quite interesting to read about Africa during the 18th century, particularly as the slave trade is still flourishing and Laurence feels strongly about abolition.
As always, Novik fits the dragons into her alternate history world seamlessly. I like the way the dragons are treated differently in each country, since I'm sure that would be the case, everyone would adjust differently. They're revered in China, treated as a step above livestock in Britain, and believed to be the reincarnated ancestors of the tribespeople in Africa. And they all have their own personalities. We see more of Iskierka in this book, and the bratty little fire-breather has personality to spare!
The verdict: Another great installment plus the biggest cliffhanger so far in the series!