Jennifer's Reviews > Empire of Ivory

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
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's review
Aug 01, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: first-read-in-adulthood, guilt-free-brain-candy, historical-fiction, on-loan, recommended
Read in July, 2011

i'll go out on a limb here and say this is a four star book. maybe 3.75 stars. i'm not saying 3.5, because i gave Black Powder War 3.5 stars, and this book is superior to that one. there are a few places where this one drags, and once again, she reverts to form. over the top fight scenes with lots of history and geography thrown in for fun. it turns out pretty well - better than the previous book. the beginning is excellent, the middle suffers a bit, and the ending is great.

one thing that made me think, though, is that she is starting to have the dragons think for themselves, have specific personalities, and everything else. one thing that i've noticed, though, is that she is, in a way, relying on certain dragon stereotypes that she's created. temeraire has a certain temperment and attitude that comes with being a celestial. (more on that later.) this dragon is like this because he's a certain breed, just as this dragon is like this because SHE's a certain breed. it seems as though ms. novik has great ideas for what dragons ought to be and think like, but then once that's established, dragons of the same breed tend to lose their individuality.

temeraire also become much more idealistic, outspoken and needy (for lack of a better term) in this book, but he very obviously lacks sympathy or understanding for laurence's needs, feelings or plight. laurence, and basically anyone else, refuses to take him to task over anything, and everyone seems to put up with him and his whininess because he's the only celestial they have. the few that do try to yell at him or bring him in line are shown to be cruel, do not understand or are just out to get temeraire. this got a little tiresome, especially when there were times i thought that the naysayers were right. wonderful, smart and philosophical as temeraire can be, sometimes he needs to be whacked very hard on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, and that's just that.

the part at the end with the biological warfare was very well done, and the cliffhanger was excellent. other issues aside, this book delivered.

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