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Naomi Novik continues her alternate history of the Napoleonic wars in this fifth adventure featuring British Capt. William Laurence and his faithful celestial dragon, Temeraire. Picking up after Empire of Ivory, a disgraced Laurence has been convicted of treason, sentenced to a prison ship and is only one step away from the hangman's noose. Temeraire is relegated to a breeding area in Wales along with other dragons viewed as past their prime. When Bonaparte invades England, Laurence and Temeraire are soon free to fly and fight for king and country. Vance fully inhabits Novik's vividly realized fantasy world. His battle scenes are exciting as he describes all the intricate fighting tactics without sacrificing the thrills. With keen vocal characterizations, he portrays a wide variety of individuals, both human and nonhuman, with the dialogue between Temeraire and some snobbish, older dragons singularly entertaining. A Del Rey hardcover (Reviews, May 19). (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.