Punk's Reviews > Black Powder War

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
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's review
Feb 04, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, dragons
Read from November 07, 2011 to February 03, 2012

Fantasy. Picks up where Throne of Jade ended. Laurence, Temeraire, and crew are milling around China when orders come to get themselves to Istanbul, stat.

Lots of war and travelling in this. I feel like I would have enjoyed it more if I knew anything about the Napoleonic Wars, but Novik doesn't hang the book on the reader's knowledge of early nineteenth century warfare, and the battles themselves are well drawn, so while I felt like I was missing something, I knew it was due to my shortcomings rather than the novel's.

Unfortunately, the walking across Asia was pretty boring, and unlike the trip to China, there wasn't much else going on to make it tolerable. I put the book down when we were halfway to Turkey and it took me a couple of months to pick it up again.

Temeraire is still agitating for dragon civil rights, making this series unique in the human/animal soul-bonded telepathic/sentient creature genre, which I appreciate. Talking dragons! Social issues! It's great. Laurence is still -- look, at some point in this book Laurence spares a minute to be irritated by the fact his hair is being uncontrollable and I was all, Laurence has hair?! It was a surprise to be reminded, is what I'm saying. Usually his body is not something he pays much attention to, but having a body, and feelings about that body, is part of what makes you human. And Laurence, despite his devotion to duty and to Temeraire, just doesn't feel like a complete, emotional person to me; devotion is all he is. Which is a terrible thing to say about a character, but there you go.

Three stars. Like war itself, this has moments of excitement punctuated by long periods of waiting. I liked the exciting parts best.
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Reading Progress

11/08 page 12
3.0% "Uh oh, I need a Previously, on Temeraire... I guess we're still in China."
11/09 page 32
9.0% "So if you've got a date in Constantinople, she'll be waiting in Istanbul."
11/20 page 62
17.0% "Camels wander off. Lose two days."
11/23 page 86
24.0% "I was okay with the slow boat to China in the second book because other things were happening at the same time, but this trek across Asia is killing me."
01/29 page 86
24.0% "Time to pick this up again. The last thing I remember was an avalanche."
01/30 page 115
32.0% "We've finally reached Turkey."
01/31 page 204
56.0% "There's a brief moment where Laurence is irritated by his hair and for the second time in as many books I'm surprised to learn he has a body. He is usually completely unaware of it."
02/02 page 232
64.0% "Forced to fight with the Prussians now!"
02/03 page 288
79.0% "I wonder if all this battle would be more engaging if I knew the slightest thing about the Napoleonic Wars."
06/28 marked as: read

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