Black Powder War (Temeraire Series #3)

Black Powder War (Temeraire Series #3)

by Naomi Novik

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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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345481306
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/30/2006
Series: Temeraire Series , #3
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 45,492
Product dimensions: 4.17(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.05(d)
Lexile: 1170L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Naomi Novik is the acclaimed author of His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, Tongues of Serpents, Crucible of Gold, and Blood of Tyrants, the first eight volumes of the Temeraire series. She has been nominated for the Hugo Award and has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, as well as the Locus Award for Best New Writer and the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. She is also the author of the graphic novel Will Supervillains Be on the Final?
 
Fascinated with both history and legends, Novik is a first-generation American raised on Polish fairy tales and stories of Baba Yaga. Her own adventures include pillaging degrees in English literature and computer science from various ivory towers, designing computer games, and helping to build the Archive of Our Own for fanfiction and other fanworks. Novik is a co-founder of the Organization for Transformative Works.
 
She lives in New York City with her husband, Charles Ardai, the founder of Hard Case Crime, and their daughter, Evidence, surrounded by an excessive number of purring computers.

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.”

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Black Powder War (Temeraire Series #3) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 325 reviews.
wetdew More than 1 year ago
just as good as the first two.
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
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.
will_00 More than 1 year ago
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.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
annekiwi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A little to militaristic for me. I enjoy some "battles", but this was overwhelming, especially at the end. Will be starting Empire of Ivory today.
JBD1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another fine effort from Naomi Novik, as we accompany our favorite dragon and his trusty companions overland from Macau to Istanul, where they are charged with retrieving three precious dragon eggs and delivering them safely to England. But, of course, nothing can go so simply, and Temeraire and Laurence find themselves in quite a pickle as Napoleon and his allies (including a particularly nasty dragon readers will remember from Throne of Jade) make their way across Europe. While Novik's dragons continue to be more interesting than her human characters, I've decided I'm okay with that. I was reading this one on a plane, and looking out the window over the clouds as I read, I found myself daydreaming of what a dragon formation in flight would look like ...
marymuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This third book dealt more heavily on the military battles and being away from England than the prior two (In Throne of Jade it was clear they were trying to go BACK to England), and I thought that the military might have been stepped forward a bit in importance. I also thought it odd a loose end hadn't been mentioned, nor wrapped up, in that there is supposedly one more unhatched dragon egg, though I was happy to see Granby get his dragonet, who will prove, I think, to be quite the handful. I was pleased to read the continuation and I am still enthralled by this story. A lovely read for lovers of alternate history, dragons, or both. And I can't wait to read the next one.
beserene on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this novel better the second time around. The first time I read it, a couple of years ago, I was anticipating the pattern of air and sea adventure and was disappointed by the more scattered narrative of this third installment in the Temeraire series. This time, I was prepared for the shift, and perhaps my expectations were a little lower, so I was better able to appreciate the focus on political details and cultural depictions. All the same, this novel is a little harder to grab onto than the previous two, perhaps because it tries to do so much. Rather than focused on a primary location, this novel takes place as Temeraire and his crew are en route from China, returning to England after the events of the previous book. They receive a new and essential mission whilst "on the road" so to speak, which then takes them across deserts, to Turkey, Prussia, and scampering across western Europe as various challenges and harrowing adventures occur. This variation, particularly read swiftly after the first two parts of the series, can come across as choppy.Since this was my second time through, however, I took the time to appreciate the detail. I still think Novik's historical world-building (or world-modifying, I suppose), especially the logical incorporation of dragons, is some of the best I've seen. In this book we meet not only additional European species -- including a young firebreather -- but also a band of feral dragons. I love the imaginative variety of these various dragon groups, as well as some of the satirical parallels Novik draws between dragon-kind and human-kind. While there are multitudes to keep track of here -- and the resulting thinness of characterization keeps this novel from feeling as rich as it might -- something about that chaotic tapestry draws the eye anyway.While this may not be the strongest book in the series, I like it on its own merits and for what it contributes to the world that Novik is creating with each page turn. Well worth reading.
hoosgracie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This one got a little tedious in places, especially their travels from China to Turkey and then up through Prussia. That said, I really enjoy the series, so it was still fun traveling with Will and Temeraire.
thelorelei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think the best thing about Naomi Novik's handling of this series is the way in which she avoids treating her characters like paper cut-outs to be plopped into a new situation for every book. Instead, each book has had a satisfyingly unique structure, so that it feels more like a continuous stretch of time since the beginning of the first book and not like a "this week, on Temeraire..." sort of set-up. The crew has departed China with orders to make a stop in Istanbul, and the plot here is not just a retread of the last two books with the setting changed to Turkey. It is building upon the longer story arc of the war with Napoleon's forces, and Novik never forgets that larger issue.Temeraire does not just conveniently drop his goal of equal rights for dragons, either, and Laurence must deal with his feelings on the subject. In this way the characters continue to be dynamic rather than static, and you actually feel like you're reading about people who have real thoughts in their heads. I even kind of liked being annoyed with Temeraire at times, because it felt more honest that he might occasionally act like a brat, being a youngish dragon and little regard for status quo.This third book also brings a return of the military aspect, with more battle scenes than we saw in "Throne of Jade," as more and more European countries fall before Bonaparte.
Queensowntalia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set approximately a week after the events of the prior volume, 'Black Powder War' continues the story of Laurence and his companion dragon Temeraire as they set out to answer an urgent task - the delivery of several unhatched dragon eggs - and find themselves stuck abroad, engaged in a serious of increasingly desperate skirmishes with Napoleon's oft-victorious forces. To make the situation worse, Napoleon has acquired a deadly dangerous ally - one with nothing but pure malice for Temeraire specifically. The book's quite engaging, with well-developed, complex characters and very well written battle scenes. We hear a bit more about feral dragons, too, and those scenes are fun. There's a lot more "running away so as not to get killed" in this book then large-scale plot developments, though there are absolutely some very interesting significant things that transpire. Also, the book's a bit grimmer than previous installments, but still enjoyable, and if you've come to care for Temeraire, Laurence and pals as I have, you'll find it rewarding.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've put enough space between reading the books in this series, that it keeps things fresh. I like Laurence and Temeraire quite a bit, so reading of their adventures is always fun. This book is probably the slowest of the three, but that didn't deter me. In fact, I enjoyed the battle scenes, though sometimes they verged on confusion. But what I really liked was both the way Laurence interacts with Temeraire, but also how they both interact with the different types of dragons. This book was good, a nice middle section of the story. I will eventually keep reading the series, but for now, I like what Novik's done integrating dragons with the Napoleonic era.
RRLevering on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was intrigued to find while reading the reviews that most people either said it was the best book in the series (so far) or the worst. I believe I fall into the former category. After the dismally slow-paced second book, this third installment made some movements towards literary merit. There were finally some slightly more "gray" situations and characters. The plot rolled along fairly well as Laurence and Temeraire move from setting to setting. Several people didn't seem to like the actual war aspect of this novel, but I personally didn't find it very overbearing. I also liked that there were actual tangible villains in the novel, where the first one was lacking and the second had unexciting, secretive ones.However, after three books I think I've finally put my finger on why I don't like the author's voice very much, next to her writing style itself. She only knows how to use Laurence to tell the story. Temeraire is her soapbox character that she can use for social commentary and Laurence is the vehicle for the story. Now this may seem obvious, since he is the main character. However, he has all the well-thought out lines and all the well-described action and quirks. On top of that, he rarely makes mistakes in his thinking and he almost always does the right thing which is boring. Other authors manage to write first or third person novels and still manage to spread out the attention and development amongst the characters. It's almost like 1) Ms. Novik doesn't know how to write for multiple characters or 2) she really doesn't like any of the other characters. This is a very limited way to write a book, let alone a series.But anyway, to end on a positive note I did think this one was much better and I'll continue reading the series since they're fairly digestible.
corglacier7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Novik does a great job again tying her fictional dragon corps into the Napoleonic War. The effects of the war outside of England are really felt in this volume, depicting some of the devastation taking place elsewhere, and seeing some non-British locations for the period written is really fascinating. Iskierka as a firespitter in both deed and personality is a great addition, though I do miss seeing the likes of Maximus and Lily. Still, Temeraire and Lawrence, and their camaraderie carry the day through this book, as they do through the others.
silentq on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Temeraire and Cpt Laurence are ordered back from China, via Turkey to pick up dragon eggs to bring back to England. I loved reading about the overland trip back from China, following the old silk road. They're guided by a British-Nepalese man who delights in being regarded suspiciously, they meet up with a pack of ferals who speak the dragon language, they see the big stone buddahs, and land smack in the middle of Napoleon's campaign in Prussia. The book is fairly evenly split between the trip and the war, and their difficulties in obtaining and safe guarding the eggs are numerous. There were tragedies, life was chancy, and the fire breathing dragon's egg causes them a whole heap of troubles. I liked the journey better than the battles, but enjoyed it over all.
MuseofIre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The weakest of the Temeraire books to date.
tundranocaps on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Much better. Though I am not overly fond of the travels, seeing as it kinda beats the purpose (of the story being somewhere, seeing how things happen there), most of the character growth is done there, so I guess it's required.This is finally a war book, and finally a dragons' book, where we see how things are different due to dragons (beforehands it wasn't really so), even if the dragons are basically humans who are big and winged. So not really inhuman.Then again, it's probably intended, seeing as they are compared to slaves and humans all over.Better.
jimmaclachlan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It might have been just my mood, but I felt this was pretty boring. I had to force myself through the last half, because I found I really didn't care what happened to the main characters - no suspense. I knew they'd be OK. Those who die are bit parts, rarely thought of before hand & quickly forgotten afterward. The story line was rote. I actually guessed the route they'd take before they got there & I'm not that much of a historian. It was probably as well written as the previous novels, but just too much of the same for me to really enjoy.
Aerrin99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received Tongues of Serpents as an ER book, and I thought 'well. I guess now is the time to actually finish Temeraire instead of just the first two books'. I thought that I hadn't read Black Powder War - I was wrong. I read it halfway, got bored, and actually forgot to finish it.Which if a big deal for me, let me tell you. I don't not finish books, and I certainly don't just /forget that I'm reading them/.That probably tells you what I think of the first half of this book. It's not that it's bad so much as it is that it just dragged for me, with details about an overland overdesert trip that were pretty much entirely unengaging for the first good stretch of the book.It's not helped by the fact that I, unlike most readers of this book, actually find Temeraire, the dragon and focus of the books, to be at best boring and at worst kind of annoying, and the same for his captain, and that the historical tone, which aims for a 19th century way of writing in addition to speaking, is hit or miss for me.If you're starting to wonder why I requested the latest for ER, well, don't worry, I am too.That said. Once I hit the second part of the book, where Temeraire and his crew rejoin the war, things start to happen at a pace faster than a snail's, and the very interesting question of dragon rights (which StormRaven has recently written about in a very excellent review) comes to the forefront, I found myself unable to put the book down and finished it in short order.I think this is a general trend with these books. There are times and places where Novik's writing captures me and she ratchets up the tension and I find myself intensely involved. And then other times where it just... flatlines for me. It'll be interesting to see how I feel about the next two, which sit on my shelf waiting for me to get through before Tongues of Serpents.
lizbee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The weakest of the Temeraire novels so far, covering the long, slow journey from China to Europe. Picks up as the travelers enter Napoleon's sphere of influence, especially with glimpses of notable and interesting historical figures.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this series which could be described as a mix of McCaffrey's Pern (dragons!) and Horatio Hornblower daring do (Napoleonic wars). I gave this novel "only" four and a half 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. Lien is also a great villain and this book introduces Tharkay, one of my favorite characters in the series.
lauranav on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this one was as good as the first two. We learn more about feral dragons, we see Napoleon marching across the confident armies of Prussia and Russia and we see discussions of pride, honor, and tough decision making. And the dragon personalities are so well drawn, as well as the humans.
Neilsantos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a very bad book. The characters, if I may refer to them so grandly, are wooden, stupid or woodenly stupid. She even managed to make Napoleon boring. Her novel idea is no more novel, and her storylines are still baffling. Sometimes its annoying being right all the time.
bluesalamanders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The way back from China is a frustrating and frequently dangerous journey.I only made it halfway through this book the first time around, and I realized this time that it's because the middle section is all about war and battles. All these books are about war, of course, and there are battles in all of them, but His Majesty's Dragon is really about Temeraire's youth, Throne of Jade is about traveling to distant lands and seeing new and amazing sights. Black Powder War really is about war. I skimmed a lot of the middle so I could get past it and get on to the end. I really liked the end.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Laurence and his dragon Temeraire are still in China following the adventures of Throne of Jade when they receive an urgent message from the British Admirality: There are three dragon eggs that have been purchased from the Turkish Empire, and Laurence and his crew must retrieve them and bring them back to England. After an accident in port means they must make the journey to Istanbul over land, they must face the dangers of travel through the harsh deserts, only to meet with treachery at the Turkish court - because the Chinese dragon Lien has flown ahead of them. Lien blames Temeraire for her own master's death, and will do whatever it takes to bring him low... even allying herself with the French forces.Review: A truth about myself that I learned long ago: I do not particularly enjoy reading about battles. Even if they're well-written, I just have a hard time visualizing large-scale battles, troop movements, maneuvers, etc., and so I typically just wind up skimming. This comes as somewhat of a hinderance, as epic fantasy and historical fiction (two of my favorite genres), both tend to feature big battles. And, as the Temeraire books are a hybrid of the two, it was really only a matter of time before we actually got to the battle parts of the Napoleonic war.The first half, or even two thirds, of the book, is quite good - adventures in the desert, treachery, exotic locations, feral dragons, Temeraire being as charming as usual - all the good stuff. Unfortunately, the last part of the book is a lot more typical war stuff - troops moving here and there, supply issues, scouting and skirmishing and the dreaded big battles... and I'm sorry to say, I did find myself skimming. Totally a matter of personal preference, though; folks who enjoy battle scenes more than I do will probably find the land war an exciting addition. As for me, though, while it was still a fun read, I didn't like it quite as much as the previous two.Recommendation: I still think the series as a whole is good for fantasy or historical fiction fans who are looking to branch out. While this volume hasn't been my favorite, I'm still looking forward to the rest of the series.