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Tongues of Serpents (Temeraire Series #6)

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Based on My Early Review Copy--Thumbs up.

TONGUES OF SERPENTS is my least favorite book in Novik's series thus far--but the first five set a very high bar--this book is still on its own merits among the most enjoyable reads I've had in a long time.

After this novel set in Australia, the only continents left ...
TONGUES OF SERPENTS is my least favorite book in Novik's series thus far--but the first five set a very high bar--this book is still on its own merits among the most enjoyable reads I've had in a long time.

After this novel set in Australia, the only continents left to visit will be the Americas and Antarctica. That has been one of the series' charms--visiting different societies from China to Africa and seeing their different relations with dragons.

For Novik's dragons aren't like those of other works of fantasy I've read. They're not beasts; they're nothing akin to pets. They're people. Temeraire himself displays an intellect that at times over-matches that of his human partner. The dragons in this series and book have personalities and characters that move the action along as much as any human. Because of dragon sentience and the setting at the dawn of the British Empire, issues of freedom, rights and autonomy are particularly important in this series, from the rights of dragons to the status of women and slaves.

With Temeraire and Laurence cut off in Australia both have far less scope for involvement in the world's affairs though. The previous books were more involving to me because more was at stake right from the beginning. The wider world, or even Australia's aborigines, doesn't impinge much on this book until the last few chapters--about half the book is taken up with a trek into the Outback I was at times impatient to see end.

So no, I didn't love this one quite as much as the other Temeraire books: Not as moving as HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON or as engrossing as THRONE OF JADE or as thrilling an adventure as BLACK POWDER WAR or with the high emotional stakes and action-filled events of EMPIRE OF IVORY or VICTORY OF EAGLES.

Despite all that, I thoroughly enjoyed the TONGUE OF SERPENTS and more than anything that's due to Laurence and Temeraire. As in the last novel, in this one Temeraire gets to share the point of view with Laurence (who had been the sole point of view in the first four books). Temeraire is like a precocious child that asks the embarrassing questions and who has a disconcerting ability to think outside proscribed lines and his point of view is always engaging. Laurence has changed quite a bit in the course of the books because of Temeraire and their mutual affection and devotion is still endearing and I love Laurence's character arc in this book. At one point in this book Laurence reflects that Temeraire's "habits of free-thinking" are supposed by the other aviators to be due to Laurence's influence--when it is quite the reverse. The Laurence/Temeraire relationship is a lot of what makes these novels such addicting reads. I'll certainly be eager to follow them through their seventh book--even if they wind up in Antarctica.

posted by Lisa_RR_H on May 20, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

A Dud - A Boring Book in a Great Series

I have been an avid reader of the other Temeraire books, but this one did not live up to its expectations. It was downright dull. There are very few episodes worthy of note, and almost no actual battles - and even they were short and timid compared to those in the other...
I have been an avid reader of the other Temeraire books, but this one did not live up to its expectations. It was downright dull. There are very few episodes worthy of note, and almost no actual battles - and even they were short and timid compared to those in the other books of the series. Temeraire rarely says anything of amusing, most of the old set of characters is gone and replaced by superficial new ones, and the author seems to have thrown over the good plot line of French v. English for wandering aimlessly around Australia.

After the first 60 pages spent on a dull political struggle about who is in charge of Sydney, the next 120 or so were spent wandering around in the vacant Australian terrain. I restorted to skimming the last 100 pages.

After the amazing tales in the Victory of Eagles and its predecessors, this book is a marked exception.

posted by 1369646 on July 18, 2010

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  • Posted May 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Based on My Early Review Copy--Thumbs up.

    TONGUES OF SERPENTS is my least favorite book in Novik's series thus far--but the first five set a very high bar--this book is still on its own merits among the most enjoyable reads I've had in a long time.

    After this novel set in Australia, the only continents left to visit will be the Americas and Antarctica. That has been one of the series' charms--visiting different societies from China to Africa and seeing their different relations with dragons.

    For Novik's dragons aren't like those of other works of fantasy I've read. They're not beasts; they're nothing akin to pets. They're people. Temeraire himself displays an intellect that at times over-matches that of his human partner. The dragons in this series and book have personalities and characters that move the action along as much as any human. Because of dragon sentience and the setting at the dawn of the British Empire, issues of freedom, rights and autonomy are particularly important in this series, from the rights of dragons to the status of women and slaves.

    With Temeraire and Laurence cut off in Australia both have far less scope for involvement in the world's affairs though. The previous books were more involving to me because more was at stake right from the beginning. The wider world, or even Australia's aborigines, doesn't impinge much on this book until the last few chapters--about half the book is taken up with a trek into the Outback I was at times impatient to see end.

    So no, I didn't love this one quite as much as the other Temeraire books: Not as moving as HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON or as engrossing as THRONE OF JADE or as thrilling an adventure as BLACK POWDER WAR or with the high emotional stakes and action-filled events of EMPIRE OF IVORY or VICTORY OF EAGLES.

    Despite all that, I thoroughly enjoyed the TONGUE OF SERPENTS and more than anything that's due to Laurence and Temeraire. As in the last novel, in this one Temeraire gets to share the point of view with Laurence (who had been the sole point of view in the first four books). Temeraire is like a precocious child that asks the embarrassing questions and who has a disconcerting ability to think outside proscribed lines and his point of view is always engaging. Laurence has changed quite a bit in the course of the books because of Temeraire and their mutual affection and devotion is still endearing and I love Laurence's character arc in this book. At one point in this book Laurence reflects that Temeraire's "habits of free-thinking" are supposed by the other aviators to be due to Laurence's influence--when it is quite the reverse. The Laurence/Temeraire relationship is a lot of what makes these novels such addicting reads. I'll certainly be eager to follow them through their seventh book--even if they wind up in Antarctica.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    Excellent for the Temeraire Fan

    A fascinating look at a part of the world that doesn't get much treatment in history or fiction of the Napoleonic era. The action is compelling and immersive, and puts the characters to whom you've grown attached into terribly difficult circumstances that Divine Wind can't get them out of.

    Novik doesn't waste a lot of text on backstory, which I count as a plus, but that wouldn't make this the best choice for someone new to the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2011

    Pretty good

    Pretty good, but not as good as the others

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