Title: Empire of Ivory
Series: Temeraire, #4
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: September 25th, 2007
Length: 416 pages | 11 hours 9 minutes
Source: Borrowed from my local library
Tragedy has struck His Majesty’s Aerial Corps, whose magnificent fleet of fighting dragons and their human captains valiantly defend England’s shores against the encroaching armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. An epidemic of unknown origin and no known cure is decimating the noble dragons’ ranks–forcing the hopelessly stricken into quarantine. Now only Temeraire and a pack of newly recruited dragons remain uninfected–and stand as the only means of an airborne defense against France’s ever bolder sorties.
Bonaparte’s dragons are already harrowing Britain’s ships at sea. Only one recourse remains: Temeraire and his captain, Will Laurence, must take wing to Africa, whose shores may hold the cure to the mysterious and deadly contagion. On this mission there is no time to waste, and no telling what lies in store beyond the horizon or for those left behind to wait, hope, and hold the line.
Gods do I love this series. The stakes just get higher and higher, and all the hard coming-of-age lessons that life brings hit Temeraire in the best and worst ways. Novik has such a light hand with these truly heavy topics- in this book, slavery (from all angles), trying to maintain honor in warfare, concepts of ownership and rights and cultural sensitivities. Also, new concepts of religion/spirituality/ancestor worship in the plot line, and more cultures than the MC is (of course) initially aware of.
I actually likes this one slightly better than the previous book, and only a teeny bit less than book 2. It had a rollicking, well-paced plot that didn’t try to take on too much, but did range through a few hefty things. I really do admire how realistically Temeraire learns about difficult choices (and Lawrence, too!) and how sticky life is. And the end was a serious cliffhanger.
As series go, this one has me gripped. It’s not even a question of whether I’ll continue it. I’m solid I’ll be finishing this series (on audiobook, of course) before the end of the year.