Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Review: Black Powder War

do believe the Temaire books should be my equivalent of a guilty pleasure (there's a lot of them, endless number of possible stories, paperback format) but it feels too creative for a guilty pleasure. Although, not much changes between books so maybe that would qualify it...

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
 Funny enough, the cover of the book I had was much less saturated from this image but all the ones I found on google were about the same color. Maybe it's my screen or the book cover faded a lot, either way it looks much more garish here.

Summary: Captain Laurence and his crew are suddenly called away from China with nary an explanation except that rare dragon eggs are at risk, a reason that the entire crew views with some skepticism. It's a long journey from China to Turkey and the real action begins once they get back to Europe, back in the middle of the Napolenic Wars and with precious cargo to boot.

The Good: It's very cool to see how the series is hopscotching all over the world and showing that yes it's a diverse world in terms of dragons (most of the other details seem to be based on real history and there are a number in there firming up the setting). Also nice was to see Temeraire's continued interest in dragon liberation and, instead of either quenching it or having Laurence be gung-ho for it, balancing that with his own changing beliefs. By this point in most books Laurence would've been on the same page and Temeraire but it feels a bit more realistic to see him taking more time while still trying to be tolerant (and that's more than reality can say sometimes too). It was also nice to see more focus on his crew again but, at that rate they're getting killed off it's not like there are many left to focus on at this point.

The Bad: I suspected there was a legitimate reason for Temeraire and co to be called out of China so the twist on that was hardly surprising, but I can't remember if that was even in the book. If I recall right, it was actually in a preview chapter for the next book and I would've liked the book to end on the twist ending, even as obvious a twist as I found it. And the book seemed to drag in the desert scenes and then dragged once they were back in the war, it's my least favorite book so far and have a sneaking suspicion that this and the next book should've been combined instead.

So, not as happy with this book but it might be a while before I get around to book four to see if I like that one more. And honestly, with a series like this that could go on for close to forever I'm wondering where I should stop reading it. Yes I should stop when I stop enjoying them, and this is far from the worst stuff I've ever read but how am I supposed to decide that it's just not going to get better again?