Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book Review: Crucible of Gold

Continuing with the "Napoleon Wars with Dragons" series of books, I actually got to this one in the year it came out which I'm quite proud of, in case people haven't figured out by now I can be rather terrible at reading books soon after they come out. Although, given that it's going to be a least a year until the next book comes out it might've been a good idea to wait a little longer before reading and reduce the wait time....

Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik


Am I the only one who is getting real Master and Commander vibes from this cover? I blame the ship in the foreground and while I am a bit sad to see the covers start to deviate from the pattern they originally established I must admit that this cover is probably a bit more eye-catching than the originals were. 

Summary: Laurence and Temeraire have been called back into service in the British Air Forces, rather reluctantly on their part, for a new mission that the British apparently cannot trust to any other group (which further serves to annoy them): to travel to the great Incan Empire of South America and to convince them to not ally themselves with Napoleon. But the journey is never easy for these two, nor does it seem to ever end, and once again they will need to use nearly every skill they have to survive and to smooth over the many political scuffles that come up along their way.  

The Good: The parts of the series where Laurence and Temeraire visit other countries is rapidly becoming my favorite part and I would love for the series to devote some time near the end to showing Temeraire reforming the way dragons are treated in England (actually, I'm even more interested by that idea than the war at this point). The Incan Empire was an interesting setting, especially seeing how it differed from real world history, and I wish more of the book had been spent there instead of with the characters constantly traveling around. And the story reintroduces some characters that haven't been seen in two or so books which was rather nice (I'm all for expanding the cast but, as I've mentioned in other reviews, I am bothered when each book in a series receives an entirely new cast, it simply feels like a waste and I'm glad that's not the case here).  

The Bad: I am of the firm belief that Napoleon will be defeated by the end of the series, there's simply been too much build-up for that not to be the outcome, yet he gets stronger and stronger with each book which means that the ending will have to be more and more spectacular to pull that off. True there are at least two more books to go, and the ending to this one heavily hinted that the British will gain a new ally in the next book, but I'm now starting to lower my expectations of how the story will end since it has set up a problem almost too complex to be resolved. Also, even though these books are crammed full of plot and not much time is wasted, there is still just a lot going on in this book and I almost wish it was trimmed down (and to it's credit all the various subplots are addressed or resolved as they come up, it's still just a lot of stuff to take in).


The story certainly feels like it's beginning to enter the end game by now and I am happy to see it progressing along, even if I am getting worried if Novik can actually pull off an ending that will be worth an eight book wait. Guess there's nothing to do but to hope for the best! 

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