When I first started reading this book, I wondered how Jacky was going to fare for an entire novel away from open water. However, I needn't have worriWhen I first started reading this book, I wondered how Jacky was going to fare for an entire novel away from open water. However, I needn't have worried. Given a large body of water, (in this case the Mississippi River) Jacky soon has herself set up as the captain of a nice little river boat with a crew of mostly trustworthy characters.
This book, like all of the others, moves. Jacky is in and out of trouble so fast it's dizzying, and she's very lucky that she has quite a few people who love her. I really do love her loyal friends, who risk life and limb time and time again to get her out of trouble because she's been good to them in situations when not many people would have. (Which means that I love Higgins doubly, because he's stuck his neck out for her more times than all the rest of them put together...)
Though I was happy with the amount of time James Emerson Fletcher got in this novel, not nearly enough of it was with Jakcy. I do like the contrast between his journey down the river and hers, though.
All in all, a most worthy entry into one of my favorite series. And this one doesn't end with a heart-stopping cliffhanger like many of the others do, so while I would dearly like the writer to hurry, I'm not climbing the walls wanting to know what's going to happen. Yet. ...more
**spoiler alert** Laurence and Temeraire's most recent adventure is a bit of a departure from their usual military and diplomatic adventures. This tim**spoiler alert** Laurence and Temeraire's most recent adventure is a bit of a departure from their usual military and diplomatic adventures. This time, they're out searching for a cure for a draconic ailment that is lingering and eventual fatal. The entire Aerial Corps is at risk, and Temeraire is one of the only healthy dragons left. So, it's off to Africa, where they think the cure might be found.
I have always loved the different ways that cultures integrate dragons into themselves. We got to see the Chinese practices in the second novel, and in this one, we get to see how tribes in Central Africa do it. They believe that dragons are reincarnated spirits of people who have recently died, and when a dragon is still in the egg, it has its entire human life "told" to it in ceremonial chanting. So, the dragon hatches already having a history and a connection to the community it is born into. (This, I think, has the same effect as "harnessing" does for the Westerners. As long as the dragon is immediately somehow given a place in human society, it won't "go feral.")
At any event, things move slowly as Laurence and his crew search for a rare mushroom that proves to cure the illness, but pick up when they discover that the tribes in Central Africa have banded together with their dragons to stop the incursion of slavers into their lands. This is a point where the history of Temeraire's world suddenly went very differently than the history of our own. (Though it was quite cool that Temeraire made a friend and ally for his cause in William Wilberforce when Laurence's father convinces both of them to meet with a bunch of British abolitionists.)
A great many other things happened that deserve some comment... the issue of women in the Corps continues to give poor Will Laurence fits. There's Catherine Harcourt's complete ignorance of the rules of inheritance and her dalliance with Riley (who was quite insufferable for most of the novel) and the quick wedding (can't wait to see where that goes... a navy captain married to a longwing captain who is very sure of herself and used to being in command...), but then there's also Jane Roland, and the unfortunate misunderstanding that led to Will's father believing Emily to be his "natural child." I felt bad for him when Jane refused his proposal so matter-of-factly, but I think that it was for the best, seeing as how Will was asking for reasons of appearances rather than affection. Not to say that the tow of them don't care for each other... I'm even hoping that they're going to get closer as the books progress. Right now, they're mostly convenient friends with benefits (dear friends, even...). Besides, I don't think Will's quite ready for the kind of equality being in love-relationship with Jane would entail.
All of that aside... HOLY CRAP THE CLIFFHANGER. I couldn't believe it when I read that the Admiralty had basically, for lack of a better word, engaged in biological warfare by sending the sick French dragon back home without thought for the countless innocent dragons from enemy and ally countries alike that would fall ill and die because of it. With the shock of that still very fresh in my mind, within pages, Laurence and Temeraire are off committing (in my mind quite justifiable) treason by taking the French the cure. And Will, being the noble-minded Englishman that he is, is going back to England now that he's done what he felt was right. Though I have never been more proud of Laurence and Temeraire, the government is NOT going to be happy with Will, and how he's going to escape without a noose around his neck is anyone's guess.
While I am very glad that I read this book, God’s Politics isn’t perfect by any means. It is sometimes repetitive, and I think that there are areas inWhile I am very glad that I read this book, God’s Politics isn’t perfect by any means. It is sometimes repetitive, and I think that there are areas in which Mr. Wallis glosses over incredibly complicated and thorny issues with too much ease for my liking. However, it did what I needed it to. I think I was already in a place where I was ready to hear a lot of what the author had to say, though.
First of all, this book suggests that people of faith should in no way feel obligated to give their unconditional support to either of the major political parties. That makes sense, especially since the number of independent voters is rising across the country. I think that many people are realizing that neither party really encompasses the whole of their political concerns, and I think that realization is important for Christians as well. The author instead proposes that religious people need to hold both Republicans and Democrats up to a higher moral standard and work and speak up for change where either of them falls short.
Second, this book suggests that a re-ordering of priorities is in order. It suggests that “social justice” is not just a secular issue, but a spiritual one as well. Mr. Wallis speaks again and again of the necessity for reforms that will raise the standard of living for those most in need in both the United States and the rest of the world, and he supports his arguments with an almost overwhelming list of Biblical references that speak of God and Christ’s concern for the poor. This may seem trite, and I may seem like I’m coming a little late to the game, but the idea that a church’s benevolence mission should involve both providing food and basic necessities for those who truly need it AND working to change conditions so that the need is less seemed to make a lot of sense to me.
This book certainly gave me a lot to think about. My teaching experiences and the fact that I’ve been paying more attention to the news in recent months had both had me thinking a lot about the state of the world, and I fluctuate back and forth between optimism and feeling too small to make a difference, which I suppose is normal. Another thing that God’s Politics did for me is give me an idea of positive things that are happening because people are working for change. It also made me remember and be grateful for some of the positive things I know are going on. I suppose the old, “Do all you can, and let God take care of the rest” is applicable in this situation. I didn’t used to like that sentiment... I thought it passed responsibility, but now I tend to see it as, “Work as hard as you can, and trust that your efforts are serving a higher purpose, even if you can’t see it.” I needed that perspective shift....more
This final installment brings all of the characters from previous books together and so that they might fight against the Dark. The character interactThis final installment brings all of the characters from previous books together and so that they might fight against the Dark. The character interactions are good, and there's a certain amount of excitement in following a group of children who are trying to keep the adults in their lives from knowing that the fate of the world is at stake.
However, I also wish that the book had been a little less choppy. With the exception of the over-arching goal of "defeat the Dark," individual bits of the quest seemed disconnected from each other, and the event that the story was working toward wasn't mentioned until very shortly before it happened.
Still, I liked this book. Susan Cooper's descriptions are lovely and atmospheric, and she handles the balance between magic and humanity very deftly. ...more