On his fifth adventure, Temeraire and his captain, Will Laurence, have been separated. Laurence has been convicted of treason and is due to hang, while Temeraire is in a breeding ground to sire more Celestials for the English cause. Both are in despair, but as the situation grows dire with regards to France, they are once again called upon to serve their country – together – by fighting the French.I still really love the relationship between Temeraire and Laurence. I think it’s my favorite part of these books. They are so fond of each other, but their relationship feels very 18th century English to me; it’s a restrained affection, obviously there but subdued in the public eye. In any case, I like it and I think their devotion to each other raises their appeal as characters.
The last couple of Temeraire books were not as enchanting as the first two, especially the first one, and I considered giving up on the series; I got this one from the library, mostly because I saw it and I thought that it would be nice to find out what was happening without having to buy it. So I was pleased to find that some of the spark is back; this book has a greater emotional depth to it as Laurence is constantly struggling with his honor and what “the right thing” is. He’s disgraced and shamed and it’s a difficult time for him. In addition, his lost love Edith emerges again in this story, so it feels like his character is filling out as the series goes on. The return of the setting to Britain helps as well. Many of Temeraire and Laurence’s friends are back and can play a greater role in their lives, and besides that they seem to fit better in this setting. Perhaps that’s just my own affection for England speaking, but I do enjoy the story more here rather than the exotic locations. That’s unfortunate as I believe they’re moving once again in the next of the series.
I’m not sure I’d recommend starting out with the series; it’s certainly enchanting, but there is no sign of its ending and a few of the books are difficult to get through with no reward as yet. I think, however, that Novik is getting better as a writer and if you’ve read this far already, you might as well continue. Check it out on Amazon.