Reading Journal Entry: Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

Throne of Jade is the sequel to His Majesty's Dragon, which I gulped down a couple of weeks ago. I loved the idea of combining a historically realistc Napoleonic warfare with dragons, and I was thrilled to learn that the publishers released all three books in quick succession. That meant I didn't need to wait another year to find out what happened to our lovely black Celestial Temeraire and his daring Captain Lawrence. I just had to wait two weeks for the Seattle Public Library to get me one of the fifteen copies they bought.

It was a long two weeks, but it finally arrived, and I brushed aside the 37 other books I have sitting on my 'SPL' bookshelf in favor of Throne of Jade and its sequel Black Powder War.

At the end of His Majesty's Dragon, Lawrence had become reconciled to departing his beloved Navy and entering the Aviation Corps. Temeraire had proved his mettle in defense of the British Isles and revealed himself to be in possession of a smashing new fighting ability: the divine wind, which is pretty clearly an audio shock wave of some kind. Fun stuff!

But at the beginning of Throne of Jade, Lawrence and Temeraire aren't basking in the gratitude of the multitudes. An embassy from China has arrived, demanding the return of the precious Celestial they had intended to be a companion to the Emperor of France. As Temeraire refuses to be separated from Lawrence, and Lawrence refuses to lie to Temeraire in order to trick him on board ship, things are at an impasse until Lawrence finds himself volunteered for a trip to China.

The long sea voyage is not glossed over; one reader complained about this, but I enjoyed it very much and I think many others will also - because the Naval atmosphere is so compelling. Novik again does a great job weaving the realities of 'dragon support' into the historical situation. Temeraire and Lawrence find themselves on what is essentially an aircraft carrier that has to support three different entourages. There's the regular crew, Temeraire's crew, and the Chinese embassy. Plenty of opportunities for misunderstandings and tension.

Well done, although I wish some incidents had been wrapped up more neatly.

No comments: