Friday, August 4, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2) by Naomi Novik

I very much enjoyed His Majesty's Dragon, the first book in the Temeraire series, which I obtained a copy of in this year's Hugo Voters Packet (Temeraire was up for the trial run for the "Best Series" Hugo).  This alternate world where the Napoleonic Wars were fought between forces that included Dragons on both sides featured several great characters - not just the young dragon Temeraire and his Captain Laurence, but a cast of other Dragons and their crews.  It was a fun tale filled with some fun characters and I looked forward to Book 2.

Throne of Jade is Book 2 (of 9) and takes Laurence and Temeraire away from the cast in Britain on a voyage to China, Temeraire's homeland.  It's solid...but a step down from Book 1 as the newer characters aren't particularly interesting.

More after the Jump:

-----------------------------------Short Plot Summary---------------------
Throne of Jade continues shortly thereafter from His Majesty's Dragon.  Having discovered that Temeraire is a Celestial after Temeraire used his breath weapon at the end of the first book, China sends a Prince and several envoys to demand Temeraire's return to China.  The problem of course is that Temeraire himself refuses to leave Laurence, and Laurence won't lie to Temeraire to get him to go along.  The end result is that Laurence and Temeraire are sent off to China on a ship in the hopes that the problems between the two Empires can somehow be resolved.

But the Chinese Prince wants to separate Temeraire from Laurence, feeling him unworthy of the Dragon, and someone in the Chinese delegation appears to be trying to possibly take matters into his own hands.  Can Laurence survive these attacks?  And perhaps more importantly, in this journey Temeraire will learn that Dragons are treated very differently in China from England...will he even want to go back when the Journey is complete?

As with the first book, Temeraire and Laurence's interactions are the best part of this book, as the two are strong characters.  Temeraire learning about slavery and about different treatment of Dragons poses some interesting questions to both Laurence and the reader, and the book teases that these issues are not done being explored here.

That said, other than these issues, the plot is rather predictable.  The obvious villain turns out to be well....the antagonist all along!  The antagonist's plot is disposed of at the end fairly easily, although one confrontation near the end is rather dramatic. The summary for Book 3 suggests that this book will be built on in the future, and the plot isn't BAD, but it's nowhere near as interesting or unpredictable as the First Book.

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