Gee, I am so glad that’s over.
Black Powder War is the third book in the Temeraire series, which is set during the Napoleonic wars but differs from real life slightly as it includes dragons. In this instalment Laurance and his dragon, Temeraire, are winging their way to Turkey to fulfil some urgent orders sent from home. They must wend their way through deserts and mountains and survive encounters with feral dragons all in an attempt to pick up three eggs, including a much coveted Kazilisk, that the British have negotiated for.
Yet things do not go as planned and Laurence finds himself in one skirmish after another as he tries to get himself and his crew back home.
Now, the previous two books of the series were actually pretty good, I was hooked from beginning to end and as such I expected the same from this, but I was severely disappointed.
It became quite painful to read. Novik used overly complicated language to explain the simplest of details, it makes it difficult to know what’s going on in an otherwise gripping plot and the characters have become exceptionally difficult to relate to.
Laurence is nothing but a captain, we know nothing of him apart from the fact he used to be in the navy and as an Ariel Corps officer he’s rather inexperienced, outside of this there’s nothing therefore he falls a bit flat as a character. He’s all about duty and being proper and concerned about the tough decisions that cross his path. He gets angry a lot but refuses to give into it. I feel that Novik has tried to make him the perfect officer, but to be more believable he needs more flaws other than being new to the job.
Then there’s Temeraire. I used to love him, he was pretty loveable but now he’s grown in arrogance and selfishness. I understand that as a dragon he’ll have difficulty getting to grips with laws of men but to constantly question it and push against those boundaries gets really grating. Since the second book his mind has been full of idealistic visions and dragon liberties, which is fair enough since they’re shunned in society but are made to go to war, but to huff and puff and get all moody when the dragons he wants to give the chance to choose, choose not to listen to him is a bit of a backward step.
There’s also supposed to be a good relationship between Laurence and Temeraire as dragon and captain but it’s entirely unbelievable, they are no Eragon and Saphira.
But like I said, the plot was good, it’s just a shame it wasn’t supported by decent characters and it really did make it a struggle to get through. The twists were good and so was the ‘action’ towards the end but it did become a chore to finish.
I will definitely read the rest of the series, I can’t leave the story unfinished, but I’ll probably only pick it up if there’s nothing else to read.
- Black Powder War (Temeraire, Book 3) book (okkaera.typepad.com)
- io9 Book Club Reminder: Meeting on 4/24 to discuss Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon [Io9 Book Club] (io9.com)
- Dragon Realm – Temeraire’s Islands Map (minecrafthd.com)
- Ask Naomi Novik anything you want about His Majesty’s Dragon [Io9 Book Club] (io9.com)
- Great Dragons of the Americas, in Naomi Novik’s Crucible of Gold [Book Review] (io9.com)