My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book in the series and while I liked it very much it wasn’t quite as good as the first (that said, it’s still a very good book). Unfortunately for Laurence and his dragon Temeraire, China is very upset that the egg (i.e. Temeraire) to Napoleon is now in British hands and they want him back. To that end, Laurence nearly ends up hanged for his refusal to give Temeraire up and it’s mostly his father’s station and the fact that Temeraire flat out refuses to comply without Laurence at his side that saves him.
The first two thirds of the book is getting Temeraire onto the Allegiance, the ship that will take him, Laurence and a small crew of aviators plus a British diplomat, along with Prince Yongxing and the Chinese diplomats to China. While there is all sort of things like battles with the French, the differences between the Chinese and the British, murder plots against Laurence and sea serpents, not to mention Temeraire learning Chinese language and culture going on, it does seem to drag a bit on the trip to China. (I honestly believe nearly 100 pages could be trimmed without losing much of the tension).
Once we get to China, things get truly tense. Without spoiling things, let’s just say the way dragons are seen and treated differ greatly between the UK and Europe and China (which makes perfect sense if you think about the legends in those areas). This was the best part of the book to me. It doesn’t help Laurence’s cause any that Temeraire was exposed to the slave trade on the trip and has some very cutting observations of his own.
In spite of some of the mid-book dragginess, I enjoyed this and can’t wait for the next one.
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