Title: Black Powder War
Series: Temeraire, #3
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: May 30th, 2006
Length: 358 pages | 10 hours 25 minutes
Source: Borrowed from my local library
After their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty’ s Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing urgent new orders from Britain. Three valuable dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman Empire, and Laurence and Temeraire must detour to Istanbul to escort the precious cargo back to England. Time is of the essence if the eggs are to be borne home before hatching.
Yet disaster threatens the mission at every turn–thanks to the diabolical machinations of the Chinese dragon Lien, who blames Temeraire for her master’s death and vows to ally herself with Napoleon and take vengeance. Then, faced with shattering betrayal in an unexpected place, Laurence, Temeraire, and their squad must launch a daring offensive. But what chance do they have against the massed forces of Bonaparte’s implacable army?
You know those stories where circumstances go from bad to worse, with every chapter? This is one of those. It makes sense- it’s not only the third book in the series, but it takes place during one of the biggest wars in European history. While Temeraire has been discovering the concept of civil rights for dragons, and learning Chinese, Napolean has been marching across Europe.
One of the things I adore about this series is the amount of real history in it, despite the obvious fantasy elements. Things like the Battle of Danzig, and the Prussians getting their butts handed to them by the French.
In terms of pace, it’s pretty constant. Tharkay is a fantastic character that I hope we see more of, and Arkady’s pack of ferals is just fun. I keenly felt the frustration of Lawrence’s crew being political pawns, and although at times I think Lawrence is extra-human in his level headedness, he’s a wonderful character to be on board with. I have a suspicion of why some of the events unfolded as they did in this book, which I expect to be confirmed in the next book. I am prepared to be heartbroken (although it bears saying, anytime someone dies in this book it’s never a character we feel we know well).
As always, I recommend the series to fans of the Napoleonic Wars era, historical fantasy, dragons, British Naval warfare, and character-driven stories. It’s long, but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re reading. Or listening- because the audiobooks all have the same narrator and he’s fantastic.