Book 45. League of Dragons, by Naomi Novik. Unabridged audio.
Ending things is hard. Whether it’s a movie, a TV series, a comic book series, a novel, or a novel series, it’s always true. Ending things is hard.
With this novel, Naomi Novik ends her excellent Temeraire series on a high note. Many series of this length have a few clunkers along the way (Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes novels) or seem to overstay their welcome (Stuart Woods’ Stone Barrington novels), but this series managed to avoid both of those unfortunate circumstances. The series is faithful to its historical fiction roots, and as the Napoleonic Wars ended in the real world, they ended in these novels. Novik fills in the gaps of our history books by including the important role played by dragons in her telling of the tale.
Napoleon’s invasion of Russia failed. But even as William Laurence and Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, the French leader is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. As a final gambit, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country—and the ferals, loyal only to themselves—vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa—and even in England, whose dragons have complained about their poor and dispectful treatment.
The inclusion of dragons in various international cultures has long been a strength of this series. With this novel, Novik brings dragons into the English political process, as well. It is a story point I did not see coming, but given the context of the series, it makes a bit of sense.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, from start to finish. I will miss the series, but appreciate the way in which it came to a conclusion.