i just finished book 4 of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series.
ok. bottomline, i found it entertaining (hardly a surprise). still, compared to the first 3 books (His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War), i found Empire of Ivory rather flat and a bit less interesting.
Empire of Ivory starts off a few days after the last scene in book 3 (The Black Powder War), with Temeraire and Capt. Laurence and their allies finally reaching the safety of British shores. This fourth installment basically highlights Temeraire’s trip (along with his squadron mates Lily, Maximus, Dulcia, etc., and their crews) to Africa in their desperate search for a cure against the deadly malaise that was steadily decimating the draconian ranks of the British Aerial Corps.
after finding the cure and surviving a run-in with the local dragons, which have their own peculiar hierarchy and mythology, the squadron heads back to England. Britain’s dragons are eventually saved. Meanwhile, the island’s aerial defenses have to make do with Arkady and the rest of his cohort (a bunch of wild Turkish dragons featured in book 3), along with a few surviving dragons — a measure that elicits mixed results.
this series of events, however, prompts the British Admiralty to try to find a way to spread the deadly disease across the Channel — thereby ensuring that Napoleon’s dragons would suffer the same fate and consequently tilt the balance of power into Britain’s favor. finding this move vile and downright shameful, Capt. Laurence and Temeraire take matters into their own hands. Empire of Ivory ends with Temeraire and Capt. Laurence finally meeting Napoleon face to face and facing an uncertain fate as they consider the consequences of their actions. this hanging question, of course, sets the tone for book 5.
the publisher has already sent out advance notice that Book 5 will cover Napoleon’s invasion of England.
hmmm… let’s hope book 5 doesn’t suffer the same lethargic pace that hounds Empire of Ivory. i really don’t want to give up on this series yet and i’m still wondering how ms. novik will integrate the Duke of Wellington into the series. perhaps in book 6…?