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Victory of Eagles (Temeraire) Mass Market Paperback – May 19, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Naomi Novik continues her alternate history of the Napoleonic wars in this fifth adventure featuring British Capt. William Laurence and his faithful celestial dragon, Temeraire. Picking up after Empire of Ivory, a disgraced Laurence has been convicted of treason, sentenced to a prison ship and is only one step away from the hangman's noose. Temeraire is relegated to a breeding area in Wales along with other dragons viewed as past their prime. When Bonaparte invades England, Laurence and Temeraire are soon free to fly and fight for king and country. Vance fully inhabits Novik's vividly realized fantasy world. His battle scenes are exciting as he describes all the intricate fighting tactics without sacrificing the thrills. With keen vocal characterizations, he portrays a wide variety of individuals, both human and nonhuman, with the dialogue between Temeraire and some snobbish, older dragons singularly entertaining. A Del Rey hardcover (Reviews, May 19). (July)
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“Invigorating . . . filled with spectacle . . . Naomi Novik has not sounded a wrong note yet in this sweeping, lustrous saga. . . . [This is] a glorious series whose future status as a genre classic is now assured.”—SF Reviews
“Engrossing . . . sheer page-turning excitement.”—Booklist
“Dragonslayer meets Master and Commander.”—Entertainment Weekly
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As with all books in the series, the story mixes historical military fiction elements (Sharp's rifles, master and commander, etc.), adventure novel elements, and fantasy tropes. And it does so really well.
Ms. Novik clearly has a better understanding of this historical period than I do. One of her challenges (self-imposed, but righteous) was to include racial minorities, women, etc. in a meaningful way into a narrative set in a historical period where they might otherwise be invisible or absent. She does so with consummate skill, naturally, and in a manner which enhances her storytelling rather than drawing attention to their presence for the sake of being present.
Great stuff, highly recommended.
These books take real, historical situations and inject fictional characters and events. They also tell fairly action-oriented stories that, while self-contained, lead us through the history of the time.
Novik's trap is that she isn't willing to tell a self-contained story. Oh, each book, including War of Eagles, does tell a story, but she appears to be posing more questions for future books than answering them within this one. I found Victory of Eagles enjoyable, but ultimately unsatisfying. I want to find out more about the characters of Novik's world, and what's going on there, and I want to anticipate enjoying the next book in the series BECAUSE of these characters and situations, not because the author has left me hanging.
Yes, I would recommend this book, and the entire series, to anyone who asks, but I would like to see Novik more confidently tell stories knowing she doesn't have to hold back to keep her audience for the next novel.