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Tongues of Serpents: A Novel of Temeraire Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 13, 2010

206 customer reviews
Book 6 of 8 in the Temeraire Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The somber sixth installment (after 2008's Victory of Eagles) of the Napoleonic era adventures of Capt. Will Laurence and Chinese-British dragon Temeraire opens with the pair exiled to New South Wales for saving French dragons from a plague while England and France were at war. The government of the colony is hotly disputed, and both the deposed royal governor and the insurrectionists hope to ally with Laurence and his draconic companions. When a dragon egg is kidnapped, an expedition over the Blue Mountains turns into a frantic hunt for the culprits. Novik fans will be glad to see their old favorite characters growing and changing yet still very much themselves, but the lack of significant interaction with native Australian humans or dragons leaves a certain emptiness at the heart of the story, exacerbated by long stretches of travel through physical and emotional desolation.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The sixth installment of Novik's fantastic series introduces Temeraire and former captain Laurence to New South Wales. Laurence, technically a transported prisoner, is escorting three eggs to form a covert in the colony there. The eggs are destined for such second-rate officers willing to make the long trip to the remote colony, including Captain Rankin, whose cruelty killed his former dragon. On arrival, the ship is met by former governor William Bligh, deposed through mutiny by the New South Wales Corps. Bligh wants the dragons to reinstate him in his post; the mutineers are determined to retain the upper hand. Discipline is lax and quarrels are the order of the day, including those between Temeraire and Iskerria, a snobbish beast. To escape all this, Laurence and Temeraire take a mission to find a way through the Blue Mountains and explore the interior of the continent. But one of the dragon eggs is stolen, and the exploration turns into a desperate rescue mission. Temeraire fans have waited two years for this book but should find themselves richly rewarded. The characters are as riveting as ever, the setting is new but convincing, and the plot, with its first-class balancing of Laurence's and Temeraire's internal and external struggles, shows Novik's continued excellence as a novelist. --Frieda Murray

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Product Details

  • Series: Temeraire
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (July 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345496892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345496898
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Author, coder, fangirl, geek. Come talk to me @naominovik on twitter or ask me questions at goodreads or at!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Eric W. on July 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'll spare you the summary of the book in this review and just get down to brass tacks. I'm a fan of the series (some books a little more than others) and love its premise, but was highly disappointed in this installment. This was especially upsetting coming off of the excitement and trial of Victory of Eagles. Tongue of Serpents had virtually no action, with an extremely dry, drawn-out, and boring (approximately 200 pages) chase across the Australian outback. For the first time in the series, I started skimming whole pages just to get to something interesting. Even the characters lacked substance and interest (including the new dragons).

There seemed to be sparks of plot development that could have been followed to make the story more engaging (e.g., the possible Letter of Marque and privateering for Laurence and Temeraire; engaging with Jia Zhen for opening greater trade in the port of Larrakia with China; developing some kind of relationship with the sea serpents; or even allowing Laurence to work some of his aggression out on Rankin). Unfortunately, this book seemed to be a calculated attempt to extend the series and set conditions for further installments. While a shrewd marketing plan, after waiting more than a year and a half for this book, I felt cheated as a fan. I'm also getting a little tired of how meek Laurence has become after being such a force to be reckoned with in earlier books.

If you're a fan of the series, you'll probably want to suffer through the book just so you feel complete for the next installment. But I urge you to wait for it to come out in paperback or at least get it from your local library to save the wholly unjustified $25 hardcover price.

I expect the next book to be better and truly hope that Laurence and Temeraire start displaying and engaging in acts of a little more action and excitement. I just wish I didn't have to wait another year and half for something that should have been present in this book.
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154 of 171 people found the following review helpful By TS VINE VOICE on July 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Unfortunately, this series seems to be in a bit of a decline, at least for me as a reader.

I read fantasy voraciously, and I'm normally a huge fan of fiction (historical and otherwise) set in this era, from Jane Austen to Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels, etc.

The first novel in this series, His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1), I really enjoyed and respected -- it managed to mix fantasy elements with the historical setting in a way seemed believable and real. The most difficult thing to do in historical fiction, and especially in cross-genre historical fiction/fantasy, is to make the novel "come to life" *in the historical setting* ( a trick that only a rare few other authors have managed), to make the book read like an authentic period account.

The problem, as this series has continued, is that the character's actions have lost their ground -- I no longer feel like I'm reading a story with characters who were alive in the 18th and 19th centuries. I feel like I'm reading a story that has a bunch of modern characters in fancy dress. The moral decisions the characters make are based on modern values and modern frameworks, not period ones; the political concerns that appear to drive these later novels ( "what if dragons had meant there wasn't any imperialism or colonialism?")are concerns that almost continually force the reminder that the books are written by a modern author.

This latest volume continues that trend.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By D. Robey on July 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a HUGE fan of this series, but am SO disappointed in this novel. It was actually boring. I was ready for the characters to interact with foreign dragons and native people. There was little of both. The story seemed to just plod along and at the end, I wondered where the rest of the book was. The characters in this book are great, but I found most of the story boring. There didn't seem to be a lot of meat to the book. I still hold out hopes for the next book, but now the long wait starts again.....
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By R. Jones on July 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before purchasing, I should have noted that the book is only 288 pages. This isn't a book, it's a novella at best. That said, for what it is, it's fine. There just isn't a book in there anywhere. The ending just drops into the middle of a paragraph and blam, it's done. Very disappointing read--it meandered around and got nowhere, and just when I thought it was getting somewhere, it ended without warning. Not at all what I have come to expect from the Temeraire series. It took only about 4 hours to read, very unsatisfying for the money.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer H. on July 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this series but this book fails miserably on it's own. Some people say it is setting up for future books in the series but I think it is a long winded begining to the next book. One person commented that it could be summed up in one paragraph, likewise I think it could be the first chaper of the real book. It sets up story lines and characters and monsters and dragons, but nothing comes from meeting them and it just sort of ends it what seems to be the build up to something good.

Honestly it seems to me the author couldn't meet her deadline so took what she had, add some more flying and eating, and said here publish this!

I still look forward to the next one but wish they had saved this for the intro to the next, guess they just want my money.
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