Thursday, June 7, 2018

Victory of Eagles, by Naomi Novik

Today I've reached the halfway point in the Temeraire series with the fifth book, Victory of Eagles. I will say that my first impression of this book is that it's providing more of the same that we've seen in the previous four books. That being said, I do like what Novik's been doing with this series so I don't mind terribly much that the books feel fairly similar in structure, if not in particulars.

This book picks up some months after the ending of Empire of Ivory, with Laurence convicted a traitor and his sentence of death commuted until such time as the government can be certain Temeraire won't attack Britain. Laurence has been imprisoned in a British ship of the line while Temeraire has been relegated to the breeding grounds. Temeraire has been having a frustrating time because there is very little to do within the breeding grounds other than eat, sleep, and breed, leaving him starved for intellectual stimulation. Temeraire starts introducing the dragons to concepts such as personal property when news comes that Napoleon has landed in Britain.

Laurence the ship he's imprisoned in caught in the first battle of Napoleon's invasion of England and only through great luck and skill manages to survive the sinking of the ship and make it safely back to Dover. Due to the extremity of the situation Laurence is ordered to gather Temeraire and help drive back the French invasion. This is made more complicated when it turns out that Temeraire has just...disappeared, and with a large number of dragons with him.

I think what I liked most about this book was following Temeraire and his scratch company of dragons which achieves official military status when, due to an assumption by military command, Temeraire receives a commission as a colonel. There're also some interesting dragon characters such as Minnow and Perscitia who I came to like just as much as I liked Temeraire and Iskierka who were by far the most developed dragon characters within the series. I also like the developments of integrated human and dragon forces in the military and the innovations that Temeraire and company use to help fight Napoleon.

I don't know how I feel about the ending of this book because despite their efforts, Laurence and Temeraire are transported to Australia. Personally I dislike this because I wanted Laurence and Temeraire to stay and help fight Napoleon, and I wanted to see more land battles with dragons and infantry squares and artillery. Largely because I like the Napoleonic wars. The books have definitely spent far more time travelling outside of Britain exploring locations like China, Turkey, and sub-Saharan Africa. Now that Laurence and Temeraire are banished to Australia it looks like we'll be spending even more time exploring distant lands. I just feel like this series promised Napoleonic Wars with Dragons and I'd have liked to see more of that but I guess it was wrong of me to expect that.

All my issues aside, I did enjoy this book, much like I enjoyed the other four books, and I intend to keep following the series as I can get them from the library.

- Kalpar

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