Monday, December 17, 2007

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

I am loving Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. The easiest way to describe these books is ‘Hornblower with dragons’. I hope that’s enough.

Captain Lawrence and his dragon have returned to England after witnessing first hand what Napoleon can achieve with armies of disciplined dragons at his call. England’s need for dragons is great, as their own dragons have fallen ill to some mysterious disease.

It’s off to Africa for a possible cure, and Lawrence is thrown into an awkward situation with one of his old officers. The gap that has opened between him and his old naval self is never so obvious as during the voyage south.

The cure is obtained but not without arising the ire of the titular empire, one that believes its dragons are reincarnations of its ruling monarchy. As Lawrence and company leave the continent, a great empire finally rouses from its slumber to visit its wrath upon the Europeans.

This is not the climax of the book. Returned to England and with their own dragons on the mend, Britain’s admiralty contrive to send one diseased dragon back to France, to infect that country’s dragon’s and hopefully other dragons in Europe, to leave Britain as a pre-eminent power in the air.

Lawrence and Temeraire act as they must.

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