Natalie's Reviews > Empire of Ivory

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
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's review
Jan 05, 11

liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction-and-fantasy
Read in December, 2010

I really disliked the middle third of this book, which I thought was unrealistic but I really liked the first and third portions. An epidemic has taken most of the British dragons out of commission with a strange coughing sickness. Temeraire and Laurence realize that the cold the dragon had in the previous book was the disease, and he had consumed something in Africa that had cured him.
Our heroic duo along with several sick dragons embark on a three month long journey to Capetown, Africa aboard the ship, Allegiance, with Captain Riley. An evangelistic African minister, Mr. Erasmus, and his family are also aboard.
I couldn't believe that several dragons could just leave and not have Napoleon run over the United Kingdom. I also think that Novik sometimes overly characterizes the dragons as "types." Temeraire acts like this because he is a Celestial. Maximus acts like this because he is a Regal Copper. If we're supposed to buy that they are rational creatures, they seemed overly defined by their draconic temperament.
The series seems to also become more grim and dark as the characters engage in more and more warfare and there is more collateral damage.
Temeraire has become increasingly idealistic without taking into account the high consequences that Laurence often has to suffer. This is especially unsettling since Temeraire, as a rare dragon, cannot be rebuked and Laurence doesn't have the heart to put his foot down. The globetrotting is also beginning to seem like a conceit as if Novick is trying to hit every continent instead of further developing the world she has in Europe.

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