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Washed up on the shores of Japan after a shipwreck, Capt. William Laurence has no memory of his mission nor does he remember his intelligent dragon mount Temeraire. Instead, he finds himself in a precarious position, especially as the Japanese desire to limit their contact with Europe. The penultimate novel in Novik's beloved series (His Majesty's Dragon) takes dragon and aviator to the brink of Napoleon's campaign into the Russian interior after an exploration of the mysterious lands of the Far East. -VERDICT Novik combines dragons-a popular theme in fantasy-with period history to achieve a brilliantly realized re-creation of military history laced with the fantastic. Series fans as well as followers of the similarly timed Napoleonic sea novels of Patrick O'Brian should appreciate this well-crafted historical fantasy. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Novik's eighth and penultimate alternate history novel (after Crucible of Gold) opens with series hero Laurence shipwrecked and taken prisoner in Japan in an extended tribute to Shogun. His reunion with Temeraire, his dragon companion, is awkward, as Laurence has suffered a head injury and entirely forgotten the past several years. As Laurence struggles to regain his health and memories, they journey to Temeraire's native China for some court intrigue, then fly to Russia to confront Napoleon's invading army. While each episode works well on its own, the ties between them are tenuous, leading to a less satisfying whole. Surprisingly, the amnesia plot is the highlight of the book; Laurence reflects movingly on how very strange his life has become, while often-self-absorbed Temeraire is humbled by Laurence's sacrifices on his behalf. Despite the fast pace, Novik does fit in some interesting scenery, with glimpses of a Japan ruled by dragons and Temeraire's discovery that dragons can be as corrupt and oppressive as any man. Fans will mostly find their appetites whetted for the series conclusion. Agent: Cynthia Manson, Cynthia Manson Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* At the end of the seventh Temeraire novel, Crucible of Gold (2012), we left Captain William Laurence and his bonded dragon, Temeraire, about to embark for China after achieving a victory of sorts for Britain by short-circuiting French influence in Africa and the New World. At the beginning of Novik's penultimate novel, Blood of Tyrants, Captain Laurence recovers from shipwreck to find himself alone and with no memories of Temeraire in Japan. Back on the transport ship, Temeraire is determined to look for Laurence, despite the objections of petty officers and Japan's peculiar diplomacy. Laurence's and Temeraire's appearance in the island nation might make new enemies for Britain, for the relations between the Far East powers are hardly the best.Matters are not helped by Laurence's amnesia. Meanwhile, back in Europe, Napoleon has determined to invade Russia. Novik's plots and characterizations get more intricate and plausible with each novel. This one, especially when Temeraire has to deal with his captain's memory loss and the possibility that Laurence might wish to marry, is an excellent example. Also, the buildup to the invasion of Russia and its outcome is most thoroughly original. Novik's re-creation of much of world history based on the existence of intelligent dragons has been so well crafted that all eight books in the series are highly recommended. However, the novels are best read in order, or the reader could miss something vital.--Murray, Frieda Copyright 2010 Booklist