Black Powder War, Naomi Novik

The dragons (and Napoleon!) are back.  Temeraire is still angling for dragon liberty.  Laurence is still sorting through his feelings about England and dragons, and still losing his temper when people have bad manners (yay for manners!).  In this book they’re all over the place – it’s all trekking off to Istanbul (and, okay, it’s not Naomi Novik’s fault that this plot thread got that They Might Be Giants song stuck in my head, but damn, I had that song stuck in my head for a while, where it waged a bitter war against the Dr. Horrible songs), and then flying around Europe being defeated by Napoleon.  Napoleon meanwhile, in addition to gaining power in massive big gulps, is now BFF with wicked Celestial dragon Lien, making me feel very uneasy in a way I never used to because Temeraire was always the only Celestial divine-wind-making dragon in town.

I had mixed feelings about this book.  I’m still enjoying the series, and I like it that Temeraire wants independence for dragons.  I was so, so happy when Granby got his own dragon, and I totally love the little fire-breathing dragon (hope to see lots more of her).  And I was pleased that Napoleon finally had a cameo, which, since I know virtually nothing about Napoleon at all, didn’t bug me the way fictional representations of real people sometimes do.

On the other hand, Black Powder War felt a little disconnected.  All through the first section, I was like, Gee, great, some more negotiations with cranky foreigners from countries America is not fond of right now.  Just what I didn’t enjoy at all about the last one.  And then BAM, that episode was totally over and everything was fine, and it was off to fight Napoleon.  Whereupon I discovered that I am still not at all interested in war.  My attention wandered wildly during all the battle scenes, and if I hadn’t been so close to the end last night before bed, I’d’ve ditched the whole thing and read Aurora Leigh instead.

So far, I would say this was my least favorite of the three, except for the bitty new dragon Iskierka.  However, I have extremely high hopes for the next book.  The dragons are all sick!  And there’s going to have to be cure-finding activities!  I anticipate good times.  Plus I looked up spoilers and found out that the next book contains some dovetailing of plot threads, which I’m looking forward to.  Onward and upward.  Screw Aurora Leigh.

(Not really!  My girl-crush on Elizabeth Barrett Browning continues unabated!)

  • Shoot, it sounds like they just get worse and worse. 🙁 I still haven’t read the second one yet, though I plan to.

  • jennysbooks

    Well, they still aren’t bad. I didn’t mean to make them sound BAD, because they’re definitely not. Just not as good as the first one. It may be because the sequels lack that nice, comforting feeling that the first one gave me, and have nothing to do with their literary merit. Can’t trust me.

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