Thursday, August 29, 2013

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik (Temeraire book 8)

I am a huge fan of the Temeraire series and am sad to see it ending. Blood of Tyrants is the second to last book, and it is neither among the best nor the worst titles in the series. I enjoyed it a great deal and had trouble putting it down but also wanted to savor every chapter.

That said, it is not without flaws. The book opens with Temeraire’s captain, William Laurence, washed up on a beach with amnesia. Amnesia is a tired and rarely believable plot twist and I was surprised to see Novik resort to it. Temeraire’s fear and anxiety over the missing Laurence does not seem as heartfelt as in previous books. The scenes in which Laurence was alone were a bit draggy for me, and his continued shock and dismay as facts about his recent life were revealed were a bit tiresome.

The relationships between the dragons and their captains are my favorite thing about this series, and there wasn’t as much of that as I would have liked (there never is). My favorite pair are Maximus and Berkley (I named my house after Maximus), and while we got a bit of Maximus there wasn’t enough Berkley. I most enjoy the interplay between the members of Temeraire’s cohort, and at least they were all present and active for a significant portion of the book. My other favorite dragon is Perscitia, who sadly did not make an appearance.

I enjoyed learning about new dragons, and the condition of the Russian dragons was an unexpected twist. I quite enjoyed meeting the American dragon John Wampanoag. For some readers, the battles are probably the highlights of these books rather than the relationships, but to me the battles are the parts I hurry through. I am not a scholar of the Napoleonic era and sometimes feel lost in the details. I love the old-fashioned language that Novik uses and the manners her characters display. (“‘Ma’am, I am honored by your condescension,’ Laurence said, bowing” and “it is too much to be borne!” from Temeraire.)

In summary, while this is not one of the best titles in the series, it is still a must for Temeraire fans, and I still highly recommend the series as a whole. I eagerly await the final book.

(I read an electronic galley of Blood of Tyrants, but the book is available now.)

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