** spoiler alert **
This is perhaps not as fast-paced as previous novels in the series—there are fewer battles, and so not as many big set pieces. I still enjoyed this tremendously, however, because there was much more scope for character development, and I feel as if I now know Laurence much better than I did previously. I sadly missed Jane Roland—present only in some hilarious letters—but Roland fille is shaping fair to be as much of a character as her mother, and the new dragon characters introduced are all very entertaining.
Most of all, I loved the bits and pieces of world-building which we got throughout—of the Iroquois and Ojibwe raising their dragons; of the Tswana invading Europe and South America in order to gain revenge for, and halt, the slave trade; more mention of the empire of the Incas; Emily Roland's matter-of-fact mention of the issues she has to deal with as the only female member of a dragon crew; Australia with English and Chinese trading posts, not to mention active, involved indigenous peoples. (Oh, oh, and the Chinese using the sea serpents for trade! That is ingenious, and not something I would ever have thought of.)
I would dearly love a map of the world as it is in this universe, because I am so curious as to where the boundaries differ from the early nineteenth century world as we know it—though perhaps such a thing would spoil any future surprises Novik may have for us? And certainly the ending which we are given here does leave the stage wide open for any number of things—now that Laurence has finally made the decision to leave the Corps and the government's demands behind him, who knows what shall happen?