Sunday, 21 October 2007

Book Review: Temeraire, Throne of Jade & Black Powder War (Naomi Novik)

Title: The Temeraire series, Books 1-3 (Temeraire, Throne 0f Jade & Black Powder War)
Author: Naomi Novik

Set during the Napoleanic Wars, the Temeraire series tells the story of Captain Will Laurence, originally from the Navy, whose world falls apart when his ship picks up a dragon egg from a French vessel. The dragon hatches on board his ship, and to Laurence's horror, decides to choose him as its partner. He now has to forsake his life as a Navy officer, and become the aviation captain of the fighting dragon Temeraire. Over the course of the three books, Laurence not only has to deal with being out of depth in his new world of aviation war, but also with the fact that Temeraire is no ordinary dragon...

What I Liked:
  • I love the idea of each country or region having their own breeds of dragons
  • I like how she makes it so that dragons are so taken for granted in her world, and in a real life historical period as well.
  • I also like how dragons in different regions are treated differently, according to the country's cultures and the myths concerning dragons.
  • I like how Novik treats dragons NOT as being dumb killing machines, but rather, being treated like the human characters as well.
  • Very good pace throughout the three books
  • It's interesting to see how Laurence and Temeraire interact, and how they both learn and educate each other at the same time.
  • Battle scenes were quite exciting

What I Didn't Like:
  • By the third book, the banter between Laurence and Temeraire was losing its novelty and becoming a little stale. Just a little.
  • I finished the books too fast. :-(

I wouldn't have discovered this serise if not for the fact that Kinokuniya had a 20% discount on them at the time, and the cool covers attracted my attention in more ways than one.

It's been ages since I've read a set of books that have captivated me as much as these. The last series where I've read all three books in one go was... gee, I really can't remember the last time I read the entire series in one shot so quickly.

Yeah, I actually finished the books really quickly (the last one, I finished in just under a day); but that's really not because they were short or too easy to read. It's because they were so fun to read.

Although like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell it combines the elements of fantasy and real life history together, Novil's world has slightly detail in it, and a lot more action as well. but what she may lack in details while fleshing out her fantasy world, she more than makes up for with her treatment of dragons.

Dragons here are not mre creatures, but characters worthy of the human ones as well. In fact, compared to the human characters, the dragons make the story a whole lot more interesting. She also introduces a lot of cool concepts about the relationships between man and dragon, and adds a nice element of intrigue by having different breeds of dragons from different countries, and illustrating cultural differences between countries in the way they treat dragons (see book 2, which is set mostly in China).

She also adds in a couple of great action sequences as well, and the battle scenes involving the naval fleet in book one, and the ground sorties in book three are especially cool to imagine.

This a great little fantasy series that I'm grateful to have found. A great combination of great characters, fast paced plot and action, and very few parts that were boring. Now I can't wait for the next book - Empire of Ivory.

Where to Get It:
The only place I've seen the books with the covers shown above is Kinokuniya, though I've seen the books with different covers in MPH as well. Alternatively, you can also get the books in HARDCOVER from BooksXcess in Amcorp Mall, for less than RM20 (but the covers aren't as nice as the new paperbacks though...)

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