After two books and more than a year’s time in-story of long journey, Temeraire and Laurence and their crew are finally back to England. But their retAfter two books and more than a year’s time in-story of long journey, Temeraire and Laurence and their crew are finally back to England. But their return is far from happy, as they find their country under an even more dire threat than when they had left it. The deadly plague befallen the dragons, killing them by dozens, and it’s well known that if the Aerial Corps fall, England will soon fall with them. No cure is known for this illness, but after Temeraire’s return, a slight, fleeting chance arises that there may, just may, be a remedy to be found on the Cape of African continent, and Temeraire and his formation set off in search of it. Will they find their salvation in the jungles of Africa – or will the whole quest turn out to be a wild goose chase that would doom them all?
I was really glad to see Temeraire’s formation again, especially Lily and Maximus, and even the other dragons like Dulcia who gained more prominent role compared to the previous books. Lily is such a sweet soul even when she is acting possessive and jealous because of Hourcourt’s (view spoiler)[involvement and eventual marriage with Riley; one just has to see her fussing over Catherine and her ‘egg’ to know that married or not, her bond with her Captain still stands strong (hide spoiler)]. And as for Maximus, you need to just look at this goof and his antics and say how it’s possible not to like him after an episode like this:
“…but in the middle of the night towards the end of the week, they were all woken by a terrible squealing, distant shrieks of terror and fire; in a panic they burst out from the tents to discover Maximus attempting guiltily to sneak unnoticed back into the parade grounds, with as much success as was to be expected in this endeavor, and carrying in his already-bloodied jaws a spare ox. This he hurriedly swallowed down almost entire, on finding himself observed, and then pretended not to know what they were talking about, insisting he had only got up to stretch his legs and settle himself more comfortably.”
That being said, even the dragons who had been with us for some time are still a joy to read about. Arkady and his band are my personal favourites, and even though their role in the book is not as significant as in the previous one, they can always bring a smile on my face. I admit that I’m not as fond of little Iskierka as I am of the other dragons, and I often find her annoying, but she is sure one of the funniest characters. Just before Temeraire departed, he told her she needed to gain a capital to be able to afford luxury like jewels or proper attire, and to gain a capital one has to capture a ship. Guess what she does when he goes back eight months later? Right, capturing French ships, all on her own and already owning quite a sum.
Now, can I say the same about the human characters of the story? We get to know the other Captains of Temeraire’s formation aside from Berkley and Hourcourt better during their voyage – not much better, but it was still something. New characters appear, and while I didn’t connect with Reverend Erasmus and his wife as much as with the old ones, Erasmus’s faith and devotion deserve a mention, as well as his wife’s resolution and will power. In the end, it’s Mrs. Erasmus who has to make some hard choices and live with the consequences. However, there were two new characters I absolutely adored: Sipho and Demane, orphan boys who were hired by Laurence (view spoiler)[and eventually were forced to join the crew (hide spoiler)]. These two are very simple characters wanting nothing more but a better life for themselves after living poor for who knows how long and who has no one but each other in the whole world, but it is this sincerity and ingenuousness of their personalities that won me over. (view spoiler)[It’s not their fault that they were caught between two opposing forces without actually belonging to any or having a chance to have a say in the matter. The episode when the boys try to hold onto their only possession, the cow Laurence promised to them, while the chaos of Twana’s attack rages all throughout the British port is heartbreaking – and the episode when Demane, thinking that he and Sipho are now Laurence’s slaves, tells him desperately that he won’t allow Sipho to be sold without him, knowing well that he is powerless to do anything about it regardless (hide spoiler)]. But even though their life had a rough start, I surely hope that it is taking a turn for the better, now that Laurence considers himself responsible for the boys and took them under his wing.
But alas, the book also showed all the drawbacks of a limited PoV: (view spoiler)[Laurence and Temeraire leave the formation for about a month, and when they meet them again – well, Catherine is pregnant, and due to her own ideas and the customs of the Corps, it’s painfully clear that we are not going to get details on the romance. But I would’ve been satisfied with just drops and hints of something that’s going on without the hero being able to observe it – but thing is, I saw no romance at all between Hourcourt and Riley, but just a casual swing. Literally, Catherine’s reaction to finding out she is having a baby is saying ‘how inconvenient’ it is, and even though she and Riley do marry in the end, I had an impression they did it not out of love, but because Riley was too honorable to leave a pregnant woman alone and because he needed an heir, and Hourcourt just allowed herself to go along with the idea (hide spoiler)]. That’s not to mention that Riley had been behaving like an ass for most of the book due to his quarrel with Laurence. I can understand Riley’s pro-slavery views and his family’s involvement in the trade, but that’s not a good reason for him to behave like he did, neither toward Erasmus family nor toward Laurence.
But in the least this situation prompted Laurence to rethink his affair with Jane Roland and allowed the readers better insight in the relationship, if you can call it that: even though Laurence and Roland are lovers, there is no romance between then, just friendship with benefits. In fact, this affair would be one of the few things I dislike about the series – I’d prefer for it either not to be present in the books at all or to be developed properly. While what we have in ‘Empire of Ivory’ is not a proper development to the relationship, just having Laurence ponder on it is already something.
Of course, the best part of the book was the dragons in Africa, their way of life and how they fit into the native society. Just like their brethren in Europe and China, the dragons had learned to coexist with humans, but their position differs significantly from both the one of servants and beasts of burden in Europe and free citizens in China. (view spoiler)[The people of Tswana tribe believe that the dragons are reincarnated souls of their ancestors, and so the dragons are respected and revered, their council and opinion held in a high esteem, and sometimes they are even given positions of power. (hide spoiler)] Another thing I appreciated about Naomi Novik’s portrayal of Africans is that she didn’t make all the natives the same. There are a lot of tribes, all of them different – some settled, some nomadic, some peaceful, some warlike, some closer to the British and other colonists, some an entity of their own, and the way one tribe lives may not be how the other does. But the sheer scale of what the Tswana tribe reaches working together with the dragons is amazing – their grand cave-palaces and other architecture is the first thing that comes to my mind and it’s certainly one of the most impressive, but their law system and war strategies are no less remarkable, even if not so noticeable.
Unfortunately, Temeraire and Laurence didn’t arrive at the best time for culture exploration, since unknowingly for them, their quest landed them right in the middle of the conflict between colonists and natives. The way this historical side of the story presented is another reason I love Naomi Novik’s writing so much – Laurence is clearly pro-abolition, and the sympathies of the author and readers lay with the natives as they have every right to be angry about invasion in their lands, destruction of their villages and enslavement of their people. Still, Africans are not presented as noble and righteous – they can be prejudiced and cruel as anyone else, and there is no justification to them (view spoiler)[killing Erasmus just for him being of Lunda tribe (hide spoiler)].
Eventually, when it becomes obvious that something big is about to happen, the effect is not unlike the one of dropped bomb. (view spoiler)[When Tswana tribe spoke of them ‘banning the slave trade themselves’, I knew they meant business, but I didn’t even think that their solution would be a head-on attack on a British port city – defended by garrison of soldiers, no less! One may think it madness, considering the British had the advantage of being in a well-fortified castle and possessing powerful cannons, but one has to remember one thing that can turn the tide of the battle: aerial forces. With thirty dragons to act both as bombers and fighters, against the fortress designed to withstand sea siege and not attacks from the inland, the difference in the armament levels isn't as big as it seems. (hide spoiler)] That’s where the book really focuses on 'alternative' aspect of the alternative history it describes. So far, we have seen how the dragons can change the way warfare is led – but their presence and involvement has much greater consequences, shifting the balance of the world powers themselves, as reflected by the relations between Africans and colonists.
After what seems like the final confrontation of the book is over and Temeraire sets off to return to Britain, it looks like the only thing awaiting the readers is the follow-up epilogue, but once Temeraire and his formation come back, it quickly becomes clear that the true danger was not in Africa. The perspective presented was chilling, and yet I can’t help being awed by (view spoiler)[the government’s strategic thinking. Throwing a biological weapon on your enemy is low, but with the opportunity it gives, the opportunity to destroy France’s main force and through it indirectly undermine the positions of many other countries of Europe and Asia, thus making Britain the top dog of the world, I can see why the idea would be so appealing to the politicians. (hide spoiler)]
And so it comes time for Laurence and Temeraire to choose between doing what is right and doing what the law tells them to do. If you know Laurence and Temeraire at all, you probably already know what choice they would make. But you know what impressed me most and made my respect to Laurence soar? (view spoiler)[That’s not the fact that he risks everything and turns against his own government just so he can bring the cure to France and save thousands and hundreds of thousands innocent lives, it what he does after that. Because after committing treason against his own country, Laurence turns and goes back to Britain to be judged for what he had done instead of living off his reward in France or running away to any other country. Temeraire is more loyal to Laurence than to the British government and would have stayed if it made Laurence happy, but that’s not the case with Laurence. Laurence isn’t going to run, he is going to make a statement. He hadn’t brought the cure to the French because of the money or the fear or disloyalty, and so he feels it’s his duty to make his last stand and face the consequences… even if he knows that this stand will truly be his last. (hide spoiler)]
“Your Majesty, I am a soldier, not a statesman; and I have no great philosophy but that I love my country. I came because it was my duty as a Christian and a man; now it is my duty to return.”
I’m awed by his choice as well as his bravely, and I can only wonder how his fate would be resolved in the next book.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Wistala’s story, the story of the Avenger of the Clutch, begins in the same way as Auron’s story, but its course and outcome varies greatly. Dragon ChWistala’s story, the story of the Avenger of the Clutch, begins in the same way as Auron’s story, but its course and outcome varies greatly. Dragon Champion and ‘Dragon Avenger’ both happen in the same time but follow different characters, and that broadens the world by a long way. In ‘Dragon Champion’, Hypatian Empire was mentioned quite often, but it’s only in ‘Dragon Avenger’ that we get to see these pitiful remains of the once great domain. On the other hand, in ‘Dragon Avenger’ we see the Chartered Company a couple of times and the dragons carrying riders – and both are playing the major role in ‘Dragon Champion’. In ‘Dragon Champion’, AuRon faces down Eliam, the younger Dragonblade with scarred face, a sadist who kills chained dragonelles and calls it glory. In ‘Dragon Avenger’ we see how he got the said scars when Wistala crossed paths with Eliam, a youth who would throw a cat into the fire just for the fun of it. Truly, some people never change.
What makes the world of this series so real is how diverse it is. In some books, you got dwarves, elves and humans having cultures different from each other but all the same inside the race – but there you can see different groups in the same race. There are dwarf mercenary clans and dwarf trading guilds; elf bandits, elf scholars and elf landlords; human farmers, human barbarians and human nomads and more, too much to list.
One of the main differences, though, is between Wistala and Auron themselves. They are far from each other opposites, a scaleless grey dragon and a lone dragonelle in the world full of enemies, and both of them survive and thrive through cunning and not brute force. Still, the ways they think differ greatly: Auron is prone to head-on advances, while Wistala always uses more subtle approach to the problem. Both Auron and Wistala lost their family – but Auron put the past in the past and lives on while Wistala craves vengeance. Still, Wistala is the one who has more qualms about killing hominids since she sees them as people, while Auron would kill without a second thought. If you see how many hominids the two had killed with only their teeth and talons, Auron is far ahead of Wistala – but no one lays waste on the whole cities better than her.
‘Dragon Avenger’ has a very interesting and original take on the theme of revenge. I admit I have a love-hate relationship with this topic, and Wistala’s choice appeals to me. After seeing her mother and sister butchered and skinned, after nursing her father back to life only to see him killed before her eyes, Wistala makes those who did it pay. But her heart isn’t burning with all-consuming hatred, neither does she have a cold, sick and twisted mind focused entirely on her revenge.
‘She’d kept her promises but felt little satisfaction in were-blood. Avenging her own was a grim duty, like breaking a bullock’s back in a dive so that you could eat, and just as necessary to survival. Ignoring those who kill others in the hope they won’t get around to you only means that when they appear to take your head and scales, they would apply all they learned in other victories, making your chances against them so much the worse.’
Wistala views revenge as something that just has to be done. Sometimes it’s making sure that her enemy is in no condition to kill any more hatchlings. Sometimes it’s putting your pride and arrogance aside and settling old scores once and for all – as it was done with the Dragonblade.
The Dragonblade is one of the most complex and controversial characters I’ve encountered, both a villain and a hero in his own right. He’s a mercenary dragon-slayer who kills hatchlings and dragonelles – but he also takes on full-grown dragons himself. He makes his living by killing for money and selling bodies of his victims – but he believes in what he’s doing. The dragons are the main heroes of the story, but let’s not forget that they do tend to be the scourge of hominids, whether by burning villages or just by stealing cattle. To hominids, the Dragonblade is the hero who believes that all the dragons must be slain for the hominids to prosper. And he’s not without honor, the most prominent example when he was hired by Hammar to kill Wistala. After seeing for himself what a black-livered scum Hammar is, Dragonblade slaps him full in the face, turns round and walks away with the words, ‘Keep you **** money, I’m out of this, and you can kill your **** dragon yourself.’ That’s why I’ve been dreading seeing the battle between the Dragonblade and one of our heroes since ‘Dragon Champion’: I didn’t know for whom I would’ve been cheering. Can you imagine my reaction when the feud between the Dragonblade and Wistala resolved the way it did?
Unlike Auron, who spends a large part of ‘Dragon Champion’ wandering, Wistala settles down early and builds up a tight adopted family of her own: Rainfall and Dsossa, mean-tempered Avalanche, Yari Sunwarm Fourth Orangedaughter, a true cat from nose to tailtip, and others. It just makes me glad to see how Rainfall and Wistala managed to rally people and turn Mossbell from a poor half-ruined estate into a lively and bright place. One of the most wondrous is that Jessup immediately became Wistala's friend after meeting her instead of being scared and terrified by the dragon. The first thing he says to Wistala is how beautiful she is, which genuinely surprises her: out of her family, her sister Jizara was graceful and beautiful one, while Wistala was a thick-bodied and short-limbed one. However, DharSii is there to bring her down on the earth, since he doesn’t hesitate to tell Wistala that her wings are too wide and her tail is much longer than her neck. But though DharSii may be rude, he is certainly honest and open-minded. I wonder if he and Wistala may meet again?...more
After a long trip to China, Temeraire and his crew are finally coming home. But their journey is anything but uneventful: sent to get three dragon eggAfter a long trip to China, Temeraire and his crew are finally coming home. But their journey is anything but uneventful: sent to get three dragon eggs from Istanbul which were sold by Turkey to Britain, they discover that the British ambassador is dead due to 'the accident', his secretary gone and hundreds of thousands of pounds of gold meant for payment disappeared. And so Laurence ends up entangled into another court intrigue, and that’s probably the last thing he wants.
Later, the Napoleonic War is brought back into focus when on their journey through Europe to Britain Laurence and Temeraire got engaged in the Prussian campaign of 1806, and that was the better part of the book. Troops’ movements and manoeuvres and the bivouac life are described in great detail, and you can see that the author did the research thoroughly even though the book is fictional. This campaign provides a new view at the warfare: for the first time during the series, we can see a ground battle with aerial support, since before we had only seen purely aerial and aerial-marine battles.
In the world created by Naomi Novik, dragons are an important part of warfare, but they do not diminish the value of other combatants: there is an occasion then the Prussians lost the battle not because their dragon force was routed; instead, the French dragons kept them from intervening and French infantry and cavalry did the bunch of the work. On the other hand, dragons can turn the tide of the battle, especially when cooperating with other troops. And even though Bonaparte is the enemy, I can't help admiring his genius as he uses unprecedented battle strategy, gets dragons to move regiments and artillery, comes out with new aerial formations and new tactics of engaging dragons in the air.
Celestial dragon Lien eventually establishes herself as Temeraire’s archenemy. Her ultimate goal is to take her revenge on Temeraire, but it goes behind the simple killing: instead Lien wishes to destroy everything Temeraire holds dear. Lien is a remarkable scholar and strategist and she makes a significant intelligence force to be reckoned with. She is preciously a type of character about whom you say, ‘if only her energy and skill was used for the peaceful goals…’ Lien is a truly engaging and powerful character.
Among the other dragon characters we met I was impressed with Arkady and the feral dragons. In Britain and many other countries it's believed that dragons who grow up away from people turn into mindless beasts. However, we can see that this isn’t true: Arkady and his band may be more primitive than civilized dragons, but they are far from animals. They have their own language and their own customs: their collective storytelling is splendid.
New human characters were somewhat a surprise to me. I expected to like Tharkay, but I didn’t. As far as I understand, his stance is that people are initially prejudiced toward him because of his race, and since he hates people whispering behind his back, he’d rather provoke them into open hostility. Except that by his behavior he only strengthens the very prejudice that makes his life difficult. Wouldn’t it be more logical for him to prove his trustworthiness and let his reputation improve? On the other hand, I hadn't expected to like Gong Su so much. He is just a cook hired to prepare meals for Temeraire, but he ends up involved in the war that isn't his and has to perform miracles on a daily basis - miracles like 'how to feed a formation of dragons with two cows' or 'how to feed the entire crew and a dragon with one sheep'....more
His Majesty's Dragon focused on the war between Britain and France; 'Throne of Jade' is mostly about a diplomatic mission in China. And the first chalHis Majesty's Dragon focused on the war between Britain and France; 'Throne of Jade' is mostly about a diplomatic mission in China. And the first challenge our heroes face is actually getting to China, which is, minding the time period, literally on the other side of the world. Many months of sailing to China aren't as uneventful as I thought them to be. Aside from attacks from French, and storms, and sea-serpents there is a great deal of tension both between the Chinese and the British and between marines and aviators, and clash of cultures, and some kind of intrigue brewing behind the curtains. Though the pacing is still slower than in the first book, which never was fast-paced to begin with.
Speaking about diplomacy, I can sum it up in one sentence: diplomacy is hard. I can't help sympathizing with Hammond, who has to maneuver between the Chinese and the British, who both are angry with each other and angry with Hammond for trying to reach some kind of agreement. But though Hammond may seem kind of strange and even crazy, he is actually smart and knows his job. I realized that throughout the whole trip Laurence and Hammond were playing 'bad cop, good cop' (though unintentionally on Laurence's part), with Laurence always objecting to everything the Chinese say and Hammond trying to find a compromise. Until at one moment Hammond tells Laurence to protest loudly, because prince Yongxing's demands were too much and they shouldn't yield.
I liked intrigues and plots our heroes have to deal with, doings of a hidden villain acting against Laurence and Temeraire (though it's less 'hidden' than 'unprovable'). But the final confrontation was quite strange. It was well-written, and I enjoyed the battle against hunhun bandits and the way it differs from air battles. But the final conflict leaves me with questions. (view spoiler)[So, a gang of bandits can just walk into one of the imperial residences, and all the guards would just flee? All right, since one of the Emperor's family was involved, they could've been bribed, but still - someone loyal to the Emperor learns about the planned attack (how exactly he was able to do it is another good question) and instead of gathering troops or something decides just to warn Laurence and flee? Is the Emperor's power so weak that a gang of bandits can enter one of his residences so easy? Besides, after the attack is repulsed, absolutely no investigation follows. That's despite Laurence, Hammond and the rest of their crew being basically Britain embassy, and the prince doesn't even apologise for failing to protect them while their were in his house.
Even leaving all the questions about hunhun gang aside, there is still the final assassination attempt at Laurence. Previous attempts would've looked like accidents if they've succeeded, but this one... Attacking Laurence right before Temeraire's eyes could have only one result, no matter whether the killer succeeded or not, - furious heavy-weight dragon on a killing spree, and I somehow doubt that the villain's plan involved destruction of city centre and mass murder of citizens. And though the fight between two dragons, Temeraire and Lien, was well-written, I still want to ask - why none of the three other dragons present tries to stop the fight? As a result of the said fight, a man is killed. Right, a villain was killed - but it just as easily could've been our heroes or innocent bystanders. (hide spoiler)]
Despite these inconsistencies, I enjoyed reading 'Throne of Jade', though the ending was rather weak.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
2.5 stars. Before getting this book, I had read some reviews, so I already knew that it is a Victorian-style mThis is my 100th review. Happy jubilee!
2.5 stars. Before getting this book, I had read some reviews, so I already knew that it is a Victorian-style memoir, and neither encyclopaedia on dragons nor action-filled adventure. But I still expected this book to be something different. I expected our heroes going to expeditions and doing research and dragon studying, not facing various impediments that hinder their studies. So yes, I'm quite disappointed with the book, though it does have some good aspects.
- Scientific approach to the dragons and the way they are portrayed. In this world, dragons are just another species of animals, though they differ from ordinary animals as well. They are not sapient, though they are quite intelligent; their breath is extraordinary (rock-wyrms, for example, breath ice, while swamp-wyrms breath toxic fumes); and they have some anatomy peculiarities that make studying them difficult. One of my favourite aspects of the book is the actual study of dragons and discoveries of their anatomy and behaviour that our heroes make.
- The true plot of the book: the mystery behind unprovoked dragon attacks and other strange things that happen around a village of Drustanev, where our heroes conduct their research. This plot took very long to develop, but I liked it after all. The legend of Zhagrit Mat is magnificently scary, the mystery surrounding it gives chilling feels, and the answer behind it is really interesting.
- The character of Dagmira, Isabella's Vystrani maid. She is my favourite despite being a secondary character. I can identify and sympathize with her much more than with Isabella, even if Isabella and not Dagmira is the main character. I was surprised when it was mentioned somewhere in the book that Dagmira is younger than Isabella, because Dagmira acts much more mature than childish Isabella. Dagmira is a peasant and takes any job she can find to feed herself and her little brother after her parents died; Isabella is a rich noble whose only problem is that she wants to study dragons and the society wouldn't let her to do it. In the critical moment, it's Dagmira and not Isabella who takes action and smashes a jar over the villain's head.
- The country of Vystrana. The culture of this country is obviously Slavic, and I like it.
- The gorgeous cover art and illustrations in the book, which give a very good sense of the overall atmosphere, the dragons and the country of Vystrana. They are magnificent!
- Isabella Camherst, future Lady Trent, our main character. I liked seven-years-old Isabella, who dissected a dead dove because she wanted to know why birds have wishbones. I liked fourteen-years-old Isabella, who disguised herself as a boy to see a wolf-drake. I liked sixteen-years-old Isabella who would rather go to the menagerie and see dragons than attend to a social event. I hated nineteen-years-old Isabella who looks down on almost everyone. She looks down on Vystrani people because they are commoners and foreigners. She looks down on Mr. Wilker because he hadn't been born a gentleman. She looks down on followers of other religions because she considers them to be basically pagans. Yes, she remarks that she was young and inexperienced at that time, but it doesn't change the fact that she is a snob. At some point Isabella realized that she treats others unfairly, but does absolutely nothing to change her attitude.
- Isabella's complaints. Actually, this should be in the previous point, but since Isabella really loves complaining, I decided it deserves a separate point. She complains just about everything. She complains about the cold weather, the unfamiliar customs of Vystrana, the locals' attitude to them, the cold weather, the peasants' superstitions, the Vystrani customs, the cold weather... All right, I get it that Isabella doesn't like cold, but it's not like she was just dropped into Vystrana out of blue. She asked to be a part of the expedition, and she knew that they are going to the mountainous country with plenty of wind and snow; couldn't she simply take more warm clothes? And Isabella constantly complains about culture and customs of Vystrana. She can't help comparing customs of Vystrana and the ones of Scirland, and immediately declares that Scirling customs are more civilized and proper. Can't she just accept the fact that she is not in her homeland anymore, and there are other traditions? Isabella's main problem is that she went to Vystrana as a part of scientific expedition to do field research. And yet she expects to receive the same level of comfort as in Scirland, with servants attending to her and everyone treating her with the highest respect possible.
- The lack of worldbuilding. Scirland is obviously Britain, Bulskevo is obviously Russia, Vystrana is one of East Europe countries (Bulgaria or Romania is what comes to my mind) and Chiavora is Italy. The only thing that makes this world different from ours is the existence of dragons and the ancient Draconean culture, which looks like a cross between ancient Egypt (involves dragon-headed gods) and ancient Rome (it's widespread from south to north). In my opinion, if you take our world and add an aspect that differentiates it from ours, it's not fantasy, it's alternative history. Why not call it that way and put efforts wasted on thinking up new names into the book itself?
- The lack of well-developed secondary characters. Jacob Camherst and Dagmira are the only ones who aren't one-dimensional, and even Jacob is somewhat of a satellite character to his wife Isabella. Isabella's father and her brother Andrew are quite developed, but they disappear after one-fourth of the book.
- The plot took too long to develop. Looking at the book in retrospect, I see that all chapters I consider boring are necessary for the plot's progress, but it doesn't change the fact that I was bored while reading them. I think I would've liked them better if I liked Isabella, but I didn't like her at all, so I ended not liking the book....more
Very funny and amusing story, even though it is really, really short. It features Temeraire and Maximus as they try to get their breakfast without smaVery funny and amusing story, even though it is really, really short. It features Temeraire and Maximus as they try to get their breakfast without smashing down cattle shed and everything around it. It's especially interesting to see their attempts to understand mechanics of human contructions, gates in particular....more
3.5 stars, for this book and the series as a whole.
I cannot deny that the book and the series both have their flaws: the plot can drag sometimes; the3.5 stars, for this book and the series as a whole.
I cannot deny that the book and the series both have their flaws: the plot can drag sometimes; the writing is often over-flowery; the main characters, Eragon and Arya in particular, became so over-powerful and invincible that most of their battles are getting repetitive and easily won; I never liked Angela, who seems to be a favourite of both the author and many of readers; moreover, some details of the plot gave me a willing suspension of disbelief. (view spoiler)[I’ll let Dr. Henri Mer say why using memory wipe isn’t such a good idea:
However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book, because I did. I loved all the challenges the Varden faced in the war with the Empire and the cat-and-mouse game between Eragon and his allies and Murtagh (because Galbatorix was a very passive enemy till the end). The dreadful priests of Helgrind with their foul practices, on the other hand, turned out to be fearsome opponents to Eragon and Arya that weren’t so easy to defeat. And I certainly loved that the werecats returned and played such an important part in the war with the Empire; I’ve always thought them very interesting. The best parts of the book were amazing dragon battles, because there is nothing like a good dragon trashing to brighten your mood. In this aspect, Saphira and Thorn gave me a lot of enjoyable moments. Who doesn’t like an exciting and engaging air battle between two fire-breathing sky titans?
Roran is still high on my list of favourite heroes. I always loved characters who have no magic or powers of their own and yet can keep up with those who have. Roran’s love and devotion to Katrina truly make him dangerous, and sometimes I felt he showed this side of his not only to his enemies, but to his friends as well. Roran is a brilliant tactician, and each time he takes command you can bet his plan is going to be crazy and awesome at once. Sadly, another of my favourites, Orik, was lost among many other characters and events; however, this allowed Nasuada and Murtagh’s plotline develop. It is definitely intriguing and unexpected as two such different characters are brought together in their struggle. I admire Nasuada’s strong will and determination, and Murtagh… Probably for the first time since Eldest we can see into his character, really get to know him and learn why he made certain decisions.
And that’s all while Eragon searches for the rock of Kuthian and discovers something that can bring new hope for the Varden and the whole of Alagaesia. The final battle with Galbatorix has its ups and downs. (view spoiler)[For one, getting into Galbatorix's citadel turned out to be surprisingly easy. I know that Galbatorix actually wanted the heroes in his castle, but it still makes very little sense for his stronghold to be so poorly protected. And it didn’t seem too difficult for the main body of Varden army to get into Uru’baen… at least until the trap is sprung, and until Eragon has to face Galbatorix face to face. I like the final confrontation between Eragon and Galbatorix, and that it is a battle of minds and wills, not physical strength. However, the way how Shrukain was dealt with left me rather disappointed. He was established as a treat just as great as Galbatorix, if not greater, big and powerful and completely blood-crazy, he was a tiger where Saphira and Thorn were cats. While it took more than just one dragon to defeat Shrukain, he was held down amazingly easy - he barely fought back. (hide spoiler)]
I got to say that I love the ending of the book and the series, aside from (view spoiler)[Eragon and Saphira leaving Alagaesia forever. If they need a place for the dragons to live, why not Vroengard? Considering how powerful Eragon is now when he knows the Name of All Names, undoing the harmful spells and restoring the isle back to its previous state doesn’t seem so impossible anymore (hide spoiler)]. But everything else that happens in the end was a fitting finale. (view spoiler)[Nasuada restoring the kingdom and establishing what is basically a magical police to look over the mages, something that really needed to be done. Roran settling down and rebuilding Carvahall. New dragons hatching. Dwarves and Urgals joining the Order of Riders as equals. (hide spoiler)] Most of all, I really loved how Eragon and Arya’s relationship developed. (view spoiler)[In the first books, Eragon’s feelings to Arya and his love to her were based entirely on her beauty and charm, and Eragon had been spending all his time acting like a lovesick puppy. However, in the course of Brisingr and ‘Inheritance’ Eragon and Arya fought side by side, travelled together, saved each other lives numerous times – and, most important, got to know each other really deep. In the end, Eragon came to appreciate Arya as a loyal friend and intimate companion, came to love her for who she is, not how she looks like. A shallow, superficial feeling turned into a deep, profound respect. And in this aspect, I loved the harmony Eragon and Arya achieved in the end much more than if they just got together and had a typical happy ending. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
One more good book of 'Inheritance' Cycle. It has very dynamic start, but then, unfortunately, slows down for almost half of the book. Sure, there areOne more good book of 'Inheritance' Cycle. It has very dynamic start, but then, unfortunately, slows down for almost half of the book. Sure, there are interesting information like backstory of Eragon's mother, but I still feel at least one third of it could have been cut without the book losing anything. The second half was much more exciting - battles between dragons in the sky were awesome. And Roran was even more awesome than before! The battle was very impressive - can't give out more without a big spoiler tag!
'Brisingr' answers some of questions asked in previous books, (view spoiler)[namely the one about Galbatorix's source of power. I love the concept of Eldunarí, and it's exciting to learn that there are still dragons in the world. I didn't see the twist about Eragons father coming! It all ties well, but I still feel cheated, like the conflict was resolved too easy. I'd rather see Eragon accepting the fact he is son of villain and learning to be himself, not his father, than suddenly finding out his real father was a hero. I consider Elva to be another Paolini's brilliant move. I felt so sorry for Elva when she suffered so much, but now she is so scary while using her powers to manipulate people... Anyway, it would be interesting to see what happened to her. (hide spoiler)] It's nice to learn more about urgals' culture and culture of Nasuada's tribes. I loved Trial of Long Knives, and the way Paolini made it a test of will, not a duel.
I like how both Eragon and Roran value human's life and understand they fight not because they want to, but because they have to. However, it was spoiled by few of out-of-character moments, particulary (view spoiler)[Eragon killing a soldier who pleads for mercy and then blaming it on Galbatorix and Roran saying after a battle 'A pity there are no more of them. Another seven and I would have an even two hundred.' (hide spoiler)] It was interesting to see how dragons think more with images than with words ('stunted-thoughts-red-scales-Thorn' or 'folded-wing-red-butterfly-chrysalis-tent'), though Saphira's PoV doesn't add much to the story. Also, I like Arya talking about her capture in Gil’ead and her fallen friends. For the first time in 2+ book, I was able to connect with her.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Formula of this book is simple: Napoleon wars + dragons, but it works fantastic. I love the way Novik fits her dragons into warfare. There are many drFormula of this book is simple: Napoleon wars + dragons, but it works fantastic. I love the way Novik fits her dragons into warfare. There are many dragon breeds, and they fight in formations designed to use they abilities. Besides, each dragons carries not only his or her captain, with whom they have a special bond, but a whole crew, including soldiers with rifles or bombs and people who work on harness and equipment.
Captain Will Laurence and Temeraire are wonderful characters, even if I did have minor problems with them. Laurence is a real officer and gentleman, who values honor and duty, and he is brave, whether it means to dangle upside down from a dragon's side to save a drowning man or to call a fellow captain out on his neglectful behavior and literally drag him to his dragon. I personally think the second was even more amazing, since Laurence treats discipline very seriously. Temeraire is far more gentle and ingenuous than you would expect from such a huge dragon. I was enchanted by his curiosity, intellegence and loyalty to Laurence. I also enjoyed seeing grumpy, but kind Berkley and his dragon Maximus; Catherine Harcourt, who, unlike mannish and coarse Jane Roland, is a bit shy and innocent, but still is a brave captain. And Levitas. Oh, I love this fellow and his story so much! The poor dragon deserved much better partner than he got...
The pace is steady and consistent: the first part develops Laurence and Temeraire's relationship, the second part follows their training, and only in the third they begin their service, and even there it takes some time to get to a major battle. The battle itself is simply magnificent, that's it! ...more
Looks like the book has as many advantages as disadvantages, so I give it 3.5 stars. Good points: 1. Description of dwarven cities and culture 2. ReturLooks like the book has as many advantages as disadvantages, so I give it 3.5 stars. Good points: 1. Description of dwarven cities and culture 2. Return of good old characters like Orik, Nasuada and Roran's village - especially Roran! 3. Saphira and Eragon's character growth when Saphira develop a crush on the dragon who is indifferent to her and Eragon has to deal with his injured back 4. The final battle, which is really impressive 5. Re-appearing of urgals - but not as enemies Now, bad points: 1. Characters I don't like - Arya and Angela. 2. Eragons love to Arya - mainly because I don't love Arya 3. Oromis lessons seem to be so-o long and boring to me - this part of the story went far too slow 4. (view spoiler)[Eragon's treanformation into a hal-elf. Really, he worked so hard for most of the book, faced so many problems, got so much development due to it, and then - bam! He is stronger and faster then any human! (hide spoiler)] All at all, Eldest is a good book, though not as fascinating as Eragon ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I liked this book so far. The plot quite interesting, and characters are developing during the story. Another thing I liked - there are not only fightI liked this book so far. The plot quite interesting, and characters are developing during the story. Another thing I liked - there are not only fights and battles. For example, the way how Eragon and Brom tracked down Ra'zak - it's like a detective story! However, there are some bad points. For example, Brom's lectures are quite annoying for me, and magic sistem seems ...urneal. It looks like a person who possess magic (Eragon in particular) can do almost everything with magic! But still, I think this book worth reading...more