Sunday, July 8, 2012
Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
From the publisher:
Convicted of treason despite their heroic defense against Napoleon's invasion of England, Temeraire and Capt. Will Laurence have been transported to a prison colony in distant Australia- and into a hornet's nest of fresh complications. The colony is in turmoil after the overthrow of military governor William Bligh- aka Captain Bligh, late of HMS Bounty. And when Bligh tries to enlist them in his bid to regain office, the dragon and his captain are caught in the middle of a political power struggle. Their only chance to escape the fray is accepting a mission to blaze a route through the forbidding Blue Mountains and into the interior of Australia. But the theft of a precious dragon egg turns their expedition into a desperate recovery operation- leading to a shocking discovery and a dangerous new complication in the global war between Britain and Napoleon.
One of my favorite things about the more recent Temeraire novels is that the dragons are getting their own voices in the narratives. More and more pages are being given over to Temeraire's own thoughts and opinions, through his own perspective, rather than the entire novel being from Laurence's head. Maybe I really just like animals more than I do people (seriously, I'm going to grow up to be a dog person), but I happen to like the dragons more than a lot of the human characters. They're so young and naive, yet full of wisdom and perspective that no human character has in these books. It's very interesting, and makes them such likable characters. I've said it before and I'll say it again, what I wouldn't give for dragons like Temeraire and Kulingile to be real creatures.
The plot in this story is pretty much average. Nothing to rave about, but I still found it entertaining and can't really find any faults with it. Laurence is struggling with his duty to England, and his growing dislike of the government and their inhumane strategies in the war against France and Napoleon, so it's interesting to see how this conflict plays out through his actions. I feel pity for the two, especially because Iskierka and Caesar are two of the most narcissistic, antagonistic characters I've seen in a while. They are spiteful and condescending and I'm rather surprised Temeraire hasn't simply blown them away with his Divine Wind just to be rid of them. At least that'd solve a lot of his and Laurence's problems (even if it creates a whole host of new problems).
All in all, Tongues of Serpents was an average installation to the series. Not my favorite book in the series, but it was a steadily-paced book that kept me interested. The characters are addicting and fun to read about, and I'm eagerly anticipating the moment I can grab the next book, Crucible of Gold.