Friday, February 19, 2010

Review: Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

Throne of Jade (Temeraire, Book 2)
From the Back Cover:

When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo - an unhatched dragon's egg - Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain's Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte's invading forces.

Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands - and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East - a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

This is the second book in a series. (Read my review of the first, His Majesty's Dragon.)

Temeraire is a Celestial, the rarest and most revered of the dragon breeds, and the Chinese have come to England to take him back. But Temeraire refuses to be parted from Laurence and Laurence refuses to give him up, so the Chinese agree to allow him to accompany Temeraire back to China. They board a huge dragon transport ship, helmed by Laurence's former first mate and good friend, Tom Riley, for the seven-month sea journey, and they are joined by a British diplomat whose job is to mend fences with the Chinese, and in doing so really annoys Laurence.

Spending seven months at sea can be pretty monotonous, and so is this book. There are a few exciting moments on board ship: a sea serpent attacks them and one of the Chinese attempts to murder Laurence, but the real action doesn't begin until they arrive in China. Laurence and Temeraire discover that dragons are treated much better in China than they are in England and Temeraire begins to form attachments to his family. Laurence worries that Temeraire will decide to stay in China and he has his own doubts as to whether England is still the best place for Temeraire to be. The Chinese have their own plans for Temeraire and they don't include Laurence. Laurence has to walk a narrow path as he tries to perform his duty to his country, to his dragon and to himself without angering the Chinese and risking their involvement in the Napoleonic War. He learns quickly that he has to constantly watch his back and be careful who he trusts, all the while watching Temeraire become closer to his Chinese family and their way of life.

Once the loooong sea voyage is over, the author does a great job of bringing the exotic setting to life and increasing the tension and mystery as the Chinese secrets are revealed and Temeraire has to choose between his loyalty to Laurence and to his new-found family. There's also a pretty cool dragon duel at the end. All in all, I'm still very fond of Laurence and Temeraire, but for me, this book was a drag to get through.

Rating:  3 Stars out of 5


  1. It feels as though I have been waiting forever for the next book in this series to come out!

  2. I just checked out some of the reviews on Black Powder War and a few made the comment that it has a lot more action than Throne of Jade and doesn't rely so much on the strength of the characters to pull it through, so I'm going to read it. I do like Laurence and Temeraire. Plus they'll be in Turkey this time so that will be interesting. I just hope somewhere along the line Laurence finds a woman!

  3. I completely agree with your review. My sister even warned me as she loaned it to me. I haven't borrowed the third one from her yet, but I do intend to. And you're right about Laurence needing a woman. Maybe he'll finally loosen up some!


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