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Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, Book 4) Mass Market Paperback – September 25, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Novik's earlier fantasies (His Majesty's Dragon, etc.), readers soared to Europe and Asia on the wings of an intriguing premise: How would the Napoleonic Wars have played out if dragons not only existed, but participated in the war effort? The fourth part of Novik's engrossing answer sweeps readers off to Africa, where the cure to the disease that has decimated England's dragon forces may be found. The African adventures of British captain Will Laurence, his dragon Temeraire and their bedraggled band of aerial corps make up the book's latter half, which showcases Novik's knack for weaving dragons and dragon lore into a vivid, well-researched historical tapestry. In Africa's wild interior, dragons shepherd and feed from elephant caravans while protecting the native villagers. This protection includes waging war against England's slave-seeking colonists, a clash that Laurence and his band may not escape unscathed. Novik fills the conflict's lead-up with lengthy meditations on dragon civil rights and England's abolition movement, making for a fitful, pedantic first half. But most will find the richness of Novik's developing world—and characters—to be worthy compensation for the slow start. (Oct.)
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Review

'These are beautifully written novels, not only fresh, original and fast-paced, but full of wonderful characters with real heart' Peter Jackson 'Novik won me over with her first novel. the combination of history, sympathetic characters, and an engaging style makes this series great, intelligent fun.' The Times 'Plenty of intrigue, swordplay, exotic locations, plausible invention. In short a treat' The Telegraph 'Novik has stirred the passions with a genre-busting historical fantasy of the first order' Sunday Sport Praise for the Temeraire series: 'A splendid novel. Not only is it a new way to utilize dragons, it's a very clever one and fits neatly into the historical niche this author has used. The plot was excellent, extraordinary in that the reader has no idea where it's leading--which is always fun.' Anne McCaffrey 'Wonderful "Temeraire" is a dragon for the ages and a fitting companion for the brave, steadfast Will Laurence.' Terry Brooks --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Printing edition (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345496876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345496874
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a New Yorker who writes about Napoleonic-era England, China, Istanbul, and, oh yes, dragons. My official website is at www.temeraire.org, and my livejournal there is the best way to reach me -- I am sporadic about updating and responding to comments because everything else slides when I am on a roll with writing, but I read everything posted there and always love to hear any and all comments from readers.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Huston on September 28, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I must admit, I haven't been this thrilled over a fantasy series since, oh, it must be the early 1990's. But ever since the first book in Naomi Novik's series about an alternate Earth where the Napoleonic Wars have taken to the skies, I've been hooked. Enough to where I dived right into the latest release as soon as it landed on my doorstep (after, of course, finishing what I had in hand first).

I simply had to know what happened next!

Picking right up where Black Powder War left off, this novel opens with a literal bang, as Temeraire with the pack of feral dragons are fighting off a French raiding party off the coast of Scotland. After a year abroad dealing with wandering in deserts, thrust into the middle of a battle with Napoleon, and discovering a foe that is more than a match for Temeraire, all that the dragon and his gallant companion, Captain Will Laurence are looking for is a well-earned rest.

But dire news is awaiting them on the ground. A mysterious illness has swept through the coverts of England and Scotland, striking down dragons and their crews alike. Only a few have managed to survive, and worst still, if the French were to discover that England is virtually undefended, all could be lost. Temeraire is fortunate enough to be unaffected by the disease, but even a Celestial dragon can't protect all of Britain...

Now with several old friends, Temeraire and Laurence are off to Africa to find an elusive cure in a desperate bid against time. Arriving in Capetown, in southern Africa, isn't without a few twists either -- Laurence discovers that his friendship with the new Captain of the Allegiance is shattered beyond repair when an African freedman and his family join them, with an intent to be missionaries.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mfitz... on October 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I have really enjoyed this series, and I liked this book a great deal. It ends with one heck of a cliffhanger. It has been taking a lot of hits in reviews because of that, and I have to admit my reaction when I got to the end was "How long am I going to have to wait to find out what happens?" But - don't let the cliffhanger keep you from snapping up this book.

One of the things I have liked best about the series is Temeraire's personality. He's altruistic and childish, brilliant and naive, in equal measures and very straightforward, never hesitating to speak his mind when he thinks some wrong needs to be righted. He thinks people should pay attention to his arguments because they are Right, not because he's a dragon the size of a battleship who could do them considerable harm if they cross him. A major sub-plot running through all the books is the maturing of his understanding of how the world works, and how to make changes in a world that's not perfect. It's both a loss of innocence and a coming of age thing and Novik does a nice job of handling it.

Will Laurence, on the other hand, is a mature Naval Officer when we meet him. He's not jaded, but he's seen the way the world really works, which is different than the way it should work, and just accepts that difference as a fact of life. He is a good person, but very much a man of his time, and there are some things he just does not question. Temeraire's idealism has been breaking down some of his assumptions about the way the world should be, and the power people have to changes things, from the very start of their friendship. That comes to a head at the end of the book, which is what leads to the cliffhanger.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David R. Glier on November 25, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Empire of Ivory, the author starts using dragons as a vehicle for early 19th century social criticism and the book falls flat.

Novik is falling prey to her own fiction. In her first book she whipped up a race of speaking beasts set in the Napoleonic Wars; belatedly she realized having another sapient race on the planet might make for some social changes. Up until this point, the Temeraire books had been more or less-parallel to our own history -with dragons.
In Empire of Ivory, however, she regresses into vilifying the British for the practice of Slavery (which she rewrites them into NOT abolishing in 1807) and for their senseless cruelty to dragons, and idolizes the enlightened China she has created. Napoleon's France, too, is now rewritten as a force for social equity! (nb: in actuality, he *revived* slavery, which had been abolished in the Revolution)

In the effort to discover a cure for a mysterious plague, the English discover a *completely* unknown, continent-spanning African Empire, ruled by a dragons -a sort of cross between Shaka's Zulu Kingdom and Mahdist Sudan set in the Congo. And, surprise, they're angry about the slave trade!
Now, I have a particular problem with the fictional Africans being -at the same time!- portrayed as a force of social justice both morally superior and more socially enlightened than the English, while ALSO being willfully close-minded murderers. More practically, if a kingdom were powerful enough to destroy EVERY white city from South Africa to Nigeria, how on earth was it unknown to the world? And how did it fall victim to the slave trade in the first place?
While it started out fascinating, the gaping plot holes and poor planning eventually boggled the mind.
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