Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book #30

Tongues of Serpents, by Naomi Novik. Unabridged audio.

As I said a few months ago, this is my favorite ongoing series. The world that Novik has created -- the 18th Century with dragons -- is both believable and delightful. There is no magic, the dragons are simply presented as zoological facts, and the stories stem from that single point.

The strength of the series is the cause-and-effect of the plotting. Facing the consequences of his actions in prior books, Will Laurence finds himself in the new colony of Australia. The Chinese also have their eyes on the land, and the natives are not happy about being colonized by either world power.

The stakes seem smaller in this book than in the prior efforts. There is little actual warfare here, Napoleon is half a world away, and this does change the feel of the novel. There is more of a sense of the unknown, the land itself and the circumstances of the character's presence there make for the drama. But the character moments are strong, both for Laurence and Temeraire, and their relationship drives the narrative forward more than the world outside.

I don't know what Novik's plans are for Laurence and Temeraire -- her most recent book is not in this series -- but I hope that she does return to them. But this story was solid enough that if we get no more stories of these characters, I can be satisfied. A little disappointed perhaps, but satisfied.

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