Black Powder War (Temeraire Series #3) [NOOK Book]

Overview

“A splendid series.”
–Anne McCaffrey

“Naomi Novik has done for the Napoleonic Wars what Anne McCaffrey did for science fiction: constructed an alternate reality in which dragons are real in a saga that is impressively original, fully developed, and peopled with characters you care about.”
–David Weber, author of the Honor Harrington series

After their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty’ s Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing ...
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Black Powder War (Temeraire Series #3)

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Overview

“A splendid series.”
–Anne McCaffrey

“Naomi Novik has done for the Napoleonic Wars what Anne McCaffrey did for science fiction: constructed an alternate reality in which dragons are real in a saga that is impressively original, fully developed, and peopled with characters you care about.”
–David Weber, author of the Honor Harrington series

After their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty’ s Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing urgent new orders from Britain. Three valuable dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman Empire, and Laurence and Temeraire must detour to Istanbul to escort the precious cargo back to England. Time is of the essence if the eggs are to be borne home before hatching.

Yet disaster threatens the mission at every turn–thanks to the diabolical machinations of the Chinese dragon Lien, who blames Temeraire for her master’s death and vows to ally herself with Napoleon and take vengeance. Then, faced with shattering betrayal in an unexpected place, Laurence, Temeraire, and their squad must launch a daring offensive. But what chance do they have against the massed forces of Bonaparte’s implacable army?

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Naomi Novik's Empire of Ivory.
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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Lucy Freeman
Throne of Jade, the second novel in the Temeraire series, is certainly Novik's best yet. Every thrilling turn will keep readers under Temeraire's spell. Each close shave with betrayal will have them jumping out of their seats with suspense. Black Powder War, although still a good read, does not keep up with a reader's expectations from the previous adventures. The story begins and ends very well, although in the middle, the plot seems to drag slightly. The introduction of new characters around each corner might leave readers making lists of "who's who." Overall, however, the latest two installments in Novik's series create a great anticipation for book number four.
VOYA - Geri Diorio
Novik continues the Napoleonic War era adventures of British Captain Will Laurence and his dragon Temeraire, first encountered in His Majesty's Dragon (Del Rey, 2006/VOYA August 2006). The two met when Laurence captured a French ship and its cargo-an unhatched Chinese dragon egg. In Throne of Jade, China has found out that their egg, meant as a gift to Napoleon, is now a dragon fighting for Britain, and they demand Temeraire's return. Laurence will not give up his companion, and Temeraire will not be separated from his Captain. The only way to save diplomatic relations is for Laurence and Temeraire to journey to China and seek an audience with the Emperor himself. This trek necessitates a long, perilous sea voyage, cumulating in a visit to China that opens both Laurence's and Temeraire's eyes to new relations between mankind and dragonkind. The pair's exploits continue in Black Powder War, as they travel overland from China to Istanbul on orders from the British government to claim three dragon eggs. Novik broadens her world by creating feral dragon characters that are used to comic effect. Temeraire and his crew end up trapped in Prussia for a good portion of the novel, encountering enemies old and new, including Napoleon himself. As in her first novel, Novik creates a complete eighteenth-century world full of intriguing historical details and gorgeous language. In Throne of Jade, the reader gets not only wonderful descriptions of China's land, customs, and food but also fully formed characters and their relationships. This middle title is a page-turner. Black Powder War, however, slows things down a tad. Except for the final battle with Napoleon (inwhich Novik creates one of the most intriguing depictions of the man that this reviewer has ever read (he is in one small scene and he steals the show), the book tends to cover the landscape in greater depth than the characters. Readers might want more time with Temeraire, Laurence, and their crew and less with the scenery. But that minor complaint shows how good Novik is at creating compelling, likeable, believable characters with whom readers want to spend a lot of time. Hungry fantasy readers will devour these titles and be happy to know that more are on the way.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345493439
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Series: Temeraire Series , #3
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 35,260
  • File size: 623 KB

Meet the Author

Naomi Novik
An avid reader of fantasy literature since age six, when she first made her way through The Lord of the Rings, Naomi Novik is also a history buff with a particular interest in the Napoleonic era and a fondness for the work of Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen. She studied English Literature at Brown University and did graduate work in Computer Science at Columbia University before leaving to participate in the design and development of the computer game Neverwinter Nights: Shadow of Undrentide. Over the course of a brief winter sojourn working on the game in Edmonton, Canada (accompanied by a truly alarming coat that now lives brooding in the depths of her closet), she realized she preferred the writing to the programming, and on returning to New York decided to try her hand at novels. His Majesty’s Dragon is her first.

Novik lives in New York City with her husband and six computers. Her website and livejournal are at www.temeraire.org.


From the Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The hot wind blowing into Macao was sluggish and unrefreshing, only stirring up the rotting salt smell of the harbor, the fish-corpses and great knots of black-red seaweed, the effluvia of human and dragon wastes. Even so the sailors were sitting crowded along the rails of the Allegiance for a breath of the moving air, leaning against one another to get a little room. A little scuffling broke out amongst them from time to time, a dull exchange of shoving back and forth, but these quarrels died almost at once in the punishing heat.

Temeraire lay disconsolately upon the dragondeck, gazing towards the white haze of the open ocean, the aviators on duty lying half-asleep in his great shadow. Laurence himself had sacrificed dignity so far as to take off his coat, as he was sitting in the crook of Temeraire’s foreleg and so concealed from view.

“I am sure I could pull the ship out of the harbor,” Temeraire said, not for the first time in the past week; and sighed when this amiable plan was again refused: in a calm he might indeed have been able to tow even the enormous dragon transport, but against a direct headwind he could only exhaust himself to no purpose.

“Even in a calm you could scarcely pull her any great distance,” Laurence added consolingly. “A few miles may be of some use out in the open ocean, but at present we may as well stay in harbor, and be a little more comfortable; we would make very little speed even if we could get her out.”

“It seems a great pity to me that we must always be waiting on the wind, when everything else is ready and we are also,” Temeraire said. “I would so like to be home soon: there is so very much to be done.” His tail thumped hollowly upon the boards, for emphasis.

“I beg you will not raise your hopes too high,” Laurence said, himself a little hopelessly: urging Temeraire to restraint had so far not produced any effect, and he did not expect a different event now. “You must be prepared to endure some delays; at home as much as here.”

“Oh! I promise I will be patient,” Temeraire said, and immediately dispelled any small notion Laurence might have had of relying upon this promise by adding, unconscious of any contradiction, “but I am quite sure the Admiralty will see the justice of our case very quickly. Certainly it is only fair that dragons should be paid, if our crews are.”

Having been at sea from the age of twelve onwards, before the accident of chance which had made him the captain of a dragon rather than a ship, Laurence enjoyed an extensive familiarity with the gentlemen of the Admiralty Board who oversaw the Navy and the Aerial Corps both, and a keen sense of justice was hardly their salient feature. The offices seemed rather to strip their occupants of all ordinary human decency and real qualities: creeping, nip-farthing political creatures, very nearly to a man. The vastly superior conditions for dragons here in China had forced open Laurence’s unwilling eyes to the evils of their treatment in the West, but as for the Admiralty’s sharing that view, at least so far as it would cost the country tuppence, he was not sanguine.

In any case, he could not help privately entertaining the hope that once at home, back at their post on the Channel and engaged in the honest business of defending their country, Temeraire might, if not give over his goals, then at least moderate them. Laurence could make no real quarrel with the aims, which were natural and just; but England was at war, after all, and he was conscious, as Temeraire was not, of the impudence in demanding concessions from their own Government under such circumstances: very like mutiny. Yet he had promised his support and would not withdraw it. Temeraire might have stayed here in China, enjoying all the luxuries and freedoms which were his birthright, as a Celestial. He was coming back to England largely for Laurence’s sake, and in hopes of improving the lot of his comrades-in-arms; despite all Laurence’s misgivings, he could hardly raise a direct objection, though it at times felt almost dishonest not to speak.

“It is very clever of you to suggest we should begin with pay,” Temeraire continued, heaping more coals of fire onto Laurence’s conscience; he had proposed it mainly for its being less radical a suggestion than many of the others which Temeraire had advanced, such as the wholesale demolition of quarters of London to make room for thoroughfares wide enough to accommodate dragons, and the sending of draconic representatives to address Parliament, which aside from the difficulty of their getting into the building would certainly have resulted in the immediate flight of all the human members. “Once we have pay, I am sure everything else will be easier. Then we can always offer people money, which they like so much, for all the rest; like those cooks which you have hired for me. That is a very pleasant smell,” he added, not a non sequitur: the rich smoky smell of well-charred meat was growing so strong as to rise over the stench of the harbor.

Laurence frowned and looked down: the galley was situated directly below the dragondeck, and wispy ribbons of smoke, flat and wide, were seeping up from between the boards of the deck. “Dyer,” he said, beckoning to one of his runners, “go and see what they are about, down there.”

Temeraire had acquired a taste for the Chinese style of dragon cookery which the British quartermaster, expected only to provide freshly butchered cattle, was quite unable to satisfy, so Laurence had found two Chinese cooks willing to leave their country for the promise of substantial wages. The new cooks spoke no English, but they lacked nothing in self-assertion; already professional jealousy had nearly brought the ship’s cook and his assistants to pitched battle with them over the galley stoves, and produced a certain atmosphere of competition.

Dyer trotted down the stairs to the quarterdeck and opened the door to the galley: a great rolling cloud of smoke came billowing out, and at once there was a shout and halloa of “Fire!” from the look-outs up in the rigging. The watch-officer rang the bell frantically, the clapper scraping and clanging; Laurence was already shouting, “To stations!” and sending his men to their fire crews.

All lethargy vanished at once, the sailors running for buckets, pails; a couple of daring fellows darted into the galley and came out dragging limp bodies: the cook’s mates, the two Chinese, and one of the ship’s boys, but no sign of the ship’s cook himself. Already the dripping buckets were coming in a steady flow, the bosun roaring and thumping his stick against the foremast to give the men the rhythm, and one after another the buckets were emptied through the galley doors. But still the smoke came billowing out, thicker now, through every crack and seam of the deck, and the bitts of the dragondeck were scorching hot to the touch: the rope coiled over two of the iron posts was beginning to smoke.

Young Digby, quick-thinking, had organized the other ensigns: the boys were hurrying together to unwind the cable, swallowing hisses of pain when their fingers brushed against the hot iron. The rest of the aviators were ranged along the rail, hauling up water in buckets flung over the side and dousing the dragondeck: steam rose in white clouds and left a grey crust of salt upon the already warping planks, the deck creaking and moaning like a crowd of old men. The tar between the seams was liquefying, running in long black streaks along the deck with a sweet, acrid smell as it scorched and smoked. Temeraire was standing on all four legs now, mincing from one place to another for relief from the heat, though Laurence had seen him lie with pleasure on stones baked by the full strength of the midday sun.

Captain Riley was in and among the sweating, laboring men, shouting encouragement as the buckets swung back and forth, but there was an edge of despair in his voice. The fire was too hot, the wood seasoned by the long stay in harbor under the baking heat; and the vast holds were filled with goods for the journey home: delicate china wrapped in dry straw and packed in wooden crates, bales of silks, new-laid sailcloth for repairs. The fire had only to make its way four decks down, and the stores would go up in quick hot flames running all the way back to the powder magazine, and carry her all away.

The morning watch, who had been sleeping below, were now fighting to come up from the lower decks, open-mouthed and gasping with the smoke chasing them out, breaking the lines of water-carriers in their panic: though the Allegiance was a behemoth, her forecastle and quarterdeck could not hold her entire crew, not with the dragondeck nearly in flames. Laurence seized one of the stays and pulled himself up on the railing of the deck, looking for his crew in and amongst the milling crowd: most had already been out upon the dragondeck, but a handful remained unaccounted for: Therrows, his leg still in splints after the battle in Peking; Keynes, the surgeon, likely at his books in the privacy of his cabin; and he could see no sign of Emily Roland, his other runner: she was scarcely turned eleven, and could not easily have pushed her way out past the heaving, struggling men.

A thin, shrill kettle-whistle erupted from the galley chimneys, the metal cowls beginning to droop towards the deck, slowly, like flowers gone to seed. Temeraire hissed back in instinctive displeasure, drawing his head back up to all the full length of his neck, his ruff flattening against his neck. His great haunches had already tensed to spring, one foreleg resting on the railing. “Laurence, is it quite safe for you there?” he called anxiously.

“Yes, we will be perfectly well, go aloft at once,” Laurence said, even as he waved the rest of his men down to the forecastle, concerned for Temeraire’s safety with the planking beginning to give way. “We may better be able to come at the fire once it has come up through the deck,” he added, principally for the encouragement of those hearing him; in truth, once the dragondeck fell in, he could hardly imagine they would be able to put out the blaze.

“Very well, then I will go and help,” Temeraire said, and took to the air.

A handful of men less concerned with preserving the ship than their own lives had already lowered the jolly-boat into the water off the stern, hoping to make their escape unheeded by the officers engaged in the desperate struggle against the fire; they dived off in panic as Te- meraire unexpectedly darted around the ship and descended upon them. He paid no attention to the men, but seized the boat in his talons, ducked it underwater like a ladle, and heaved it up into the air, dripping water and oars. Carefully keeping it balanced, he flew back and poured it out over the dragondeck: the sudden deluge went hissing and spitting over the planks, and tumbled in a brief waterfall over the stairs and down.

“Fetch axes!” Laurence called urgently. It was desperately hot, sweating work, hacking at the planks with steam rising and their axe blades skidding on the wet and tar-soaked wood, smoke pouring out through every cut they made. All struggled to keep their footing each time Temeraire deluged them once again; but the constant flow of water was the only thing that let them keep at their task, the smoke otherwise too thick. As they labored, a few of the men staggered and fell unmoving upon the deck: no time even to heave them down to the quarterdeck, the minutes too precious to sacrifice. Laurence worked side by side with his armorer, Pratt, long thin trails of black-stained sweat marking their shirts as they swung the axes in uneven turns, until abruptly the planking cracked with gunshot sounds, a great section of the dragondeck all giving way at once and collapsing into the eager hungry roar of the flames below.

For a moment Laurence wavered on the verge; then his first lieutenant, Granby, was pulling him away. They staggered back together, Laurence half-blind and nearly falling into Granby’s arms; his breath would not quite come, rapid and shallow, and his eyes were burning. Granby dragged him partway down the steps, and then another torrent of water carried them in a rush the rest of the way, to fetch up against one of the forty-two-pounder carronades on the forecastle. Laurence managed to pull himself up the railing in time to vomit over the side, the bitter taste in his mouth still less strong than the acrid stink of his hair and clothes.

The rest of the men were abandoning the dragondeck, and now the enormous torrents of water could go straight down at the flames. Temeraire had found a steady rhythm, and the clouds of smoke were already less: black sooty water was running out of the galley doors onto the quarterdeck. Laurence felt queerly shaken and ill, heaving deep breaths that did not seem to fill his lungs. Riley was rasping out hoarse orders through the speaking-trumpet, barely loud enough to be heard over the hiss of smoke; the bosun’s voice was gone entirely: he was pushing the men into rows with his bare hands, pointing them at the hatchways; soon there was a line organized, handing up the men who had been overcome or trampled below: Laurence was glad to see Therrows being lifted out. Temeraire poured another torrent upon the last smoldering embers; then Riley’s coxswain Basson poked his head out of the main hatch, panting, and shouted, “No more smoke coming through, sir, and the planks above the berth-deck ain’t worse than warm: I think she’s out.”

A heartfelt ragged cheer went up. Laurence was beginning to feel he could get his wind back again, though he still spat black with every coughing breath; with Granby’s hand he was able to climb to his feet. A haze of smoke like the aftermath of cannon-fire lay thickly upon the deck, and when he climbed up the stairs he found a gaping charcoal fire-pit in place of the dragondeck, the edges of the remaining planking crisped like burnt paper. The body of the poor ship’s cook lay like a twisted cin- der amongst the wreckage, skull charred black and his wooden legs burnt to ash, leaving only the sad stumps to the knee.

Having let down the jolly-boat, Temeraire hovered above uncertainly a little longer and then let himself drop into the water beside the ship: there was nowhere left for him to land upon her. Swimming over and grasping at the rail with his claws, he craned up his great head to peer anxiously over the side. “You are well, Laurence? Are all my crew all right?”

“Yes; I have made everyone,” Granby said, nodding to Laurence. Emily, her cap of sandy hair speckled grey with soot, came to them dragging a jug of water from the scuttlebutt: stale and tainted with the smell of the harbor, and more delicious than wine.

Riley climbed up to join them. “What a ruin,” he said, looking over the wreckage. “Well, at least we have saved her, and thank Heaven for that; but how long it will take before we can sail now, I do not like to think.” He gladly accepted the jug from Laurence and drank deep before handing it on to Granby. “And I am damned sorry; I suppose all your things must be spoilt,” he added, wiping his mouth: senior aviators had their quarters towards the bow, one level below the galley.

“Good God,” Laurence said, blankly, “and I have not the least notion what has happened to my coat.”

From the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 280 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 284 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 30, 2011

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    excellant read

    just as good as the first two.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    A Riveting Read

    I'm loving this series so far which combines McCaffrey's Pern (dragons!) and Horatio Hornblower daring do (Napoleonic wars) I gave this novel four stars only because it's slightly less amazing than the first two books. The first book marked it as unique among dragon fantasies I've read for giving dragons all the personality and intellect of the human characters. The second gave us a society of dragons integrated into China. In a world-building sense, this book can't match that--there's no further development or surprises in terms of Temeraire's or Laurence's character--but it's fully as engrossing a read and engaging an adventure. The last book took us to China, this one to Turkey and Germany of the Napoleonic era, and its part of the book's virtue to make me believe I visited those places--or at least what they would be like had dragons been part of the picture.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

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    Not As Great As the First Two

    Black Powder War, the third book in the Temeraire series, was not quite as well written as His Majesty's Dragon or Throne of Jade (the two earlier books in the series). Although Black Powder War was very well action-packed, the essence of the story did not bring as much dynamic to the series other then the loss of Prussia and the fight for London (in the next book). Certainly a good read though, and I would recommend it to anyone continuing the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2007

    Slightly dissapointed.

    I have been keeping up with the serious and just finished this book. I was rather tired of it, it seemed as if Ms. Novik was rushing to put this book behind her and get to the next. I mean, she rushed through the travels and when Granby was shoved off of Temeraire, you only got a sentences about him and then in the next chapter he was perfectly healthy, like nothing had happened. I am fighting with myself to rate it three or four and have decided upon three because it was to rushed and she didn't show as much emotion as she had in her previous books. All in all, she rushed the book but it turned out okay in the end.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A fabulous historical fantasy

    His Majesty¿ Aerial Corps Captain Will Laurence and his partner HIS MAJESTY¿S DRAGON Temeraire the dragon relax after their Chinese escapades (see THRONE OF JADE). However, their R&R is cut short, when an envoy informs the daring duo of their assignment. They must travel to Istanbul to pick up three dragon eggs recently purchased from the Ottomans and bring them safely home before they hatch. Will hires Tharkay, a half-breed guide who has parents in both nations, and decides the land route is best. However, the trek is hazardous from natural causes, a falling out between the two nations, and mostly because of the raging Chinese dragon Lien, who vows vengeance on Laurence and Temeraire for the death of her human mate. All this is happening while the clock is running out and a betrayal makes it seemingly impossible to accomplish the mission. The latest Laurence-Temeraire adventure is once again a fabulous historical fantasy. The story line is filled with action and adventure while the secondary players add depth either to the escapades to the period. However, as always the tale is owned by the lead duo who both grows into better tolerant beings due to their relationship. Fans will enjoy the BLACK POWDER WAR.------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    Good for a 3rd instalment.

    Because of Novik's writing, there are some areas of the book that feel a little redundant and repetitive; but that's just because she actually writes as if she lived in the late 1700s. Novik delivers a fresh but familiar story with new and also familiar peril and enemies. I enjoyed it and the way she ended this one makes me eager to grab the next. Thank you miss Novik for giving us a fresh, new look at creativity. You're original and unlike any other.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2011

    Awesome series

    I was a little hesitant about getting into this series but once i started reading the first book, i couldn't put my Nook Color down to stop reading this amazing series. But one thing that mystifies me is how they say napoleon is killed in the first book and they still say he is alive. Very confusing. Otherwise i just love reading about will laurence and especially Temeraire, his dragon!

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  • Posted January 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    The saga Temeraire and Capt. Laurence continues in book three of the series. As with her first two books, Naomi Novik has a way of telling a story such as this in a way that is believable. In a way that it doesn't appear fantastical. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series and I hope that the series doesn't end with Ms. Novik's 6th book.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

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    Third book in a great series

    I highly reccomend all of the books in the Temeraire series- they are so addicting! I bought the first one on general positive reviews (Napoleonic Wars! With dragons!) and the moment I finished it I ordered the next four and read all of those in breathless succession. I have not regretted this for an instant, even in the slower or more frustrating parts, and I am now restlessly anticipating the sixth book. All lovers of history, fantasy, war stories, or just plain interesting reading need to read these books. Get all five and pre-order the sixth, you will not be sorry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2006

    Awsome book!

    I loved this book alot. Great for young adult readers who like action. )

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