Naomi Novik’s beloved series returns, with Capt. Will Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire once again taking to the air against the broadsides of Napoleon’s forces and the friendly — and sometimes not-so-friendly — fire of British soldiers and politicians who continue to suspect them of divided loyalties, if not outright treason.
For Laurence and Temeraire, put out to pasture in Australia, it seems their part in the war has come to an end just when they are needed most. Newly allied with the powerful African empire of the Tswana, the French have occupied Spain and brought revolution and bloodshed to Brazil, threatening Britain’s last desperate hope to defeat Napoleon.
So the British government dispatches Arthur Hammond from China to enlist Laurence and Temeraire to negotiate a peace with the angry Tswana, who have besieged the Portuguese royal family in Rio — and as bait, Hammond bears an offer to reinstate Laurence to his former rank and seniority as a captain in the Aerial Corps. Temeraire is delighted by this sudden reversal of fortune, but Laurence is by no means sanguine, knowing from experience that personal honor and duty to one’s country do not always run on parallel tracks.
Laurence and Temeraire — joined by the egotistical fire-breather Iskierka and the still-growing Kulingile, who has already surpassed Temeraire in size — embark for Brazil, only to meet with a string of unmitigated disasters that leave the dragons and their human friends forced to make an unexpected landing in the hostile territory of the Inca empire, where they face new unanticipated dangers.
Now with the success of the mission balanced on a razor’s edge, and failure looking more likely by the minute, the unexpected arrival of an old enemy will tip the scales toward ruin. Yet even in the midst of disaster, opportunity may lurk — for one bold enough to grasp it.
An avid reader of fantasy literature since age six, Naomi Novik (born 1973) is also a history buff with a particular fascination with the Napoleonic era and a fondness for the work of Patrick O'Brian and Jane Austen. She began writing as a guilty pleasure while studying for her Master's degree in Computer Science at Columbia. She lives with her husband in New York City.