Review: Throne of Jade by Naomi NovikThrone of Jade by Naomi Novik
Series: Temeraire #2
Published by Harper Voyager
Genres: High Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Temeraire

When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo–an unhatched dragon’s egg–Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces.

Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands–and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East–a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

Thoughts: I don’t usually start a sequel straight after reading the first book – especially if I adored said first book.  I like to savour the series I love by spreading them across months, and sticking mediocre books in between the gems. So, that I started Throne of Jade right after reading Temeraire is a tribute to the awesomeness of Naomi Novik.

However.

Yep, there’s a big fat “however”. You see, Throne of Jade? It’s just nowhere near as amazing as Temeraire.  For starters, the novel is bizarrely balanced.  I’d say about 3/4 of the novel is spent getting to China – and then the rest is a huge mishmash of action set in Beijing. While this is realistic timescale-wise, it did not make for the most entertaining of books. That said, it’s not as if the novel would have been better if it had been set entirely in China. I didn’t enjoy a minute of the time spent in Beijing – someone scratch Imperial China off my time-travel holiday list.

On top of that, I had some rather serious issues with the relationship between Temeraire and Laurence. For all his supposed genius, Temeraire acted like such a spoiled child in this book. And Laurence? He spent the entire book desperately pandering to Temeraire’s whims. I could forgive Laurence, but Temeraire… just… guh! *strangles dragon* He could get so bloody self-involved! I really do hope that he matures by the next book.

Throne of Jade also lacked the brilliant aerial fleet. We get only a few brief scenes with the gang at the start of the novel, and then they are left behind in Europe. They are some of the best characters in the verse (especially pseudo-love interest and kick-ass dragon rider extraordinaire Jane) and their absence was keenly felt. I’m hoping for a lot more of them in the next book.

Bottom line? A mediocre episode in an excellent series. Nevertheless, Naomi Novik novels = The Bee’s Knees.

Kay

Your ghost host at Dead Book Darling
Kay's been blogging about urban fantasy, young adult and werewolves since 2009. She's a firm believer in the many uses of the towel, the science of deduction and other fandom in-jokes. To support her book-buying habit, Kay keeps up a day-job as a science journalist (so feel free to ask her about Physics).

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