Naomi Novik's triumphant debut, His Majesty's Dragon, introduced a dynamic new pair of heroes to the annals of fantasy fiction: the noble fighting dragon Temeraire and his master and commander, Capt. Will Laurence, who serves Britain's peerless Aerial Corps in the thick of the raging Napoleonic Wars. Now, in the latest novel of this dazzling series, they soar to new heights of breathtaking action and brilliant imagination.
It is a grim time for the dragon Temeraire. On the heels of his mission to Africa, seeking the cure for a deadly contagion, he has been removed from military service-and his captain, Will Laurence, has been condemned to death for treason.
For Britain, conditions are grimmer still: Napoleon's resurgent forces have breached the Channel and successfully invaded English soil. Napoleon's prime objective: the occupation of London.
Separated by their own government and threatened at every turn by Napoleon's forces, Laurence and Temeraire must struggle to find each other amid the turmoil of war and to aid the resistance against the invasion before Napoleon's foothold on England's shores can become a stranglehold.
If only they can be reunited, master and dragon might rally Britain's scattered forces and take the fight to the enemy as never before-for king and country, and for their own liberty. But can the French aggressors be well and truly routed, or will a treacherous alliance deliver Britain into the hands of her would-be conquerors?
In the thrilling fifth installment (the first in hardcover, following 2007's Empire of Ivory) of the bestselling Temeraire series, Novik returns to familiar themes of love, duty and liberty against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. When Napoleon's forces attack England, Temeraire, believing Laurence dead, decides to lead other uncaptained dragons to battle. When the two reunite, Temeraire uses his commander status to gain a voice in war counsels, demanding freedom and pay for dragons. Though the battles are impressive and the politics unsubtle but intriguing, the piece de resistance is the quiet moment when Laurence faces the mad king he betrayed. This accessible vision of an English Regency with an air force raises the stakes without straining credibility. Followers of Temeraire's travels will be richly rewarded by the satisfying conclusion of his return to home ground, but may wonder where Novik can go from here. (July) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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1 . Invasion
Posted June 22, 2010 by rw , HBthe Invasion of England has finally arrived, and Novik has done an excellent job of brining the social issues of Slavery, property rights, politics and prejudice all together in a subtle way.
July 07, 2008
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Excerpt from Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik
The breeding grounds were called Pen Y Fan, after the hard, jagged slash of the mountain at their heart, like an ax-blade, rimed with ice along its edge and rising barren over the moorlands: a cold, wet Welsh autumn already, coming on towards winter, and the other dragons sleepy and remote, uninterested in anything but their meals. There were a few hundred of them scattered throughout the grounds, mostly established in caves or on rocky ledges, wherever they could fit themselves; nothing of comfort or even order provided for them, except the feedings, and the mowed-bare strip of dirt around the borders, where torches were lit at night to mark the lines past which they might not go, with the town-lights glimmering in the distance, cheerful and forbidden.
Temeraire had hunted out and cleared a large cavern, on his arrival, to sleep in; but it would be damp, no matter what he did in the way of lining it with grass, or flapping his wings to move the air, which in any case did not suit his instinctive notions of dignity: much better to endure every unpleasantness with stoic patience, although that was not very satisfying when no-one would appreciate the effort. The other dragons certainly did not.
He was quite sure he and Laurence had done as they ought, in taking the cure to France, and no-one sensible could disagree; but just in case, Temeraire had steeled himself to meet with either disapproval or contempt, and he had worked out several very fine arguments in his defense. Most importantly, of course, it was just a cowardly, sneaking way of fighting: if the Government wished to beat Napoleon, they ought to fight him directly, and not make his dragons sick to try and make him easy to defeat; as if British dragons could not beat French dragons, without cheating. "And not only that," he added, "but it would not be only the French dragons who died: our friends from Prussia who are imprisoned in their breeding grounds would also have got sick, and perhaps it might even have gone so far as China; and that would be like stealing someone else's food, even when you are not hungry; or breaking their eggs."
He made this impressive speech to the wall of his cave, as practice: they had refused to give him his sand-table, and he had no-one of his crew to jot it down for him, either; he did not have Laurence, who would have helped him work out just what to say. So he repeated the arguments over to himself quietly, instead, so he should not forget them. And if these should not suffice to persuade, he thought, he might point out that after all, he had brought the cure back, in the first place: he and Laurence, with Maximus and Lily and the rest of their formation, and if anyone had a right to say where it should be shared out, they did: no-one would even have known of it if Temeraire had not contrived to be sick in Africa, where the mushrooms which cured it grew.
He might have saved the trouble. No-one accused him of anything, nor, as he had privately, a little wistfully, thought just barely possible, hailed him as a hero; because they did not care.
The older dragons, not feral but retired, were a little curious about the latest developments in the war, but only distantly, more inclined to tell over their own battles of earlier wars; and the rest had plenty of indignation over the recent epidemic, but only in a provincial way. They cared that they and their own fellows had sickened and died; they cared that the cure had taken so long to reach them; but it did not mean anything to them that dragons in France had also been ill, or that the disease would have spread, killing thousands, if Temeraire and Laurence had not taken over the cure; they also did not care that the Lords of the Admiralty had called it treason, and sentenced Laurence to die.