Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review: Tongues of Serpents

Sorry I didn't post this yesterday, got really wrapped up in my sewing and just wanted to get a project finished up and by the time I did it was pretty late. Such is life, so here's my review on the latest (and currently the last) book in the His Majesty's Dragon series.

Tongues of Serpents by  Naomi Novik
A nice, relativly simple cover here with some nice, abeit confusing details. I would assume that the black dragon is Temeraire and that the bronze one is Iskierka, it does seem a little odd to have both of them on the cover along with the European sailing ship, that bit continues to confuse me. 

Summary: Now that Napoleon has been, at least temporarily, pushed off of British shores the government has gotten around to sentencing Laurence and Temeraire for their treason back in Empire of Ivory. They are sent to Australia until further notice along with three eggs and when one of the eggs are stolen they set off chasing the thieves across the continent to retrieve the egg.

The Good: It seems that this book round off another multi-book arc in the story, one that focused a lot on Laurence's character development. While the larger arc of the first three books entailed showing how this world's Napoleonic Wars are going very differently from how ours went, books four through six showed Temeraire's gradual influence on Laurence's way of thinking and at the end his character seems to have changed. It's also nice to see this world be continuously expanded and diverge further and further away from what our history did.

The Bad: Much like the last time one of the books focused mainly on a cross-continent adventure (Black Powder War) the book just doesn't feel as satisfying. While Novik does successfully convey just how large Australia is and how long it takes anyone to cross it, even if they're going by dragon back, she will omit parts of the journey if needed (such as the return trip back to Sydney here and the return to England in Empire of Ivory) and that makes this amount of detail put into the trips seem a bit, pointless. Yes there was some character growth in there and some world-building, but at the end of the day the book simply seems like it could have been much shorter and still covered exactly what it needed to.

So, not my favorite book in the series (that would probably be The Throne of Jade) but it's not horrible. Actually, I'm starting to hope that Temeraire and Laurence's next adventures will take them to the Americas after a little more background information about the America's appeared in this book. Honestly at this rate I have no idea what the story is going to do next so all I can do is hope that it's going to be interesting!

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