Reading post #5

Today I finished reading Naomi Novik’s Empire of Ivory. This is the fourth book in the Temeraire series, and did not disappoint.

The book starts where the last one left off, with Captain Laurence and his dragon Temeraire trying to get back to Britain. Of course, once they’ve reached home, they discover a mysterious epidemic has weakened the British Aerial Corps, with some of the dragons already dead.

Fortunately, Temeraire is resistant to the virus, and Temeraire, his crew and some other friends from the Corps go off to the wilder parts of Africa in search of whatever it was that made Temeraire immune, when they sailed past there on the route to China (this was in the second part of the series, I believe). They will have to find the antidote in a hurry, though, since the forces of France are very close to finding out the whole British Corps have taken to the illness.

During the book, the band of aviators manage to actually find the antidote to the virus through a series of disappointing tries, they also manage to get kidnapped and witness the colonies on the continent get razed and looted in the final part of their journey.

They return to Britain triumphant, but then news reaches them that the British government has sent a sick spy deliberately to the enemy in a try to infect the French troops. Since I don’t want to spoil the ending, I’ll just conclude with saying that Captain Laurence and Temeraire had to make a very hard choice in the end, without much compromising their principles regarding murder or treason.

The book was very exciting to read, I especially enjoyed the vocabulary of the author (given that the novel takes place during the Napoleonic Wars, the use of words sounds very authentic) and of course the lovely descriptions of Africa. Novik truly has a way of portraying characters as compassionate and easy to identify with, and the book was really a pleasure to read.

I’ll most likely read the sequel whenever I get a hold of it, since the book ended at a very interesting turn of events. Next I’ll probably try to tackle the Marion Zimmer Bradley book and after that, well, I’m sure I’ll find something.


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