Book Reviews 2006 #61: Black Powder War

In what might be our last completed book review of the year,what is up is the third book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire “Napoleonic Wars with Dragons” series, Black Powder War.


Black Powder War (Temeraire, Book 3)
by Naomi Novik
I’ve talked about the first two novels, His Majesty’s Dragon and Throne of Jade. Black Powder War falls right on the heels of Throne of Jade, leaving Laurence and his bonded dragon companion, Temeraire, in China, seeking return to England.
Bad weather, a fire on the ship, and an urgent summons to Istanbul to obtain purchased dragon eggs leads the protagonists to risk an overland trip along the silk road, braving desert climes and even feral dragons on their way to Istanbul.
And there they find out their mission might be in vain, and worse, an enemy newly made in China has gotten there first…
The pacing problems of TOJ are mostly relieved in this novel, as Novik gets back to the action and adventure of the first. We get to see more of the world, and diverse settings, and being a irredeemable world builder, I was fascinated with the journey. And how can you argue visiting one of my to-visit-someday cities, Istanbul, complete with a visit to the Harem? The military aspects and battles aren’t quite handled as well, and I am sure a Military History expert could poke gigantic holes in the assumptions and use of the dragons.
Still, I was entertained, I enjoyed the continuing development of the world and its characters, and I look forward to the 4th book in the series, due in 2007. You won’t want to start here, go read His Majesty’s Dragon first, and if you like it sufficiently, keep on going.