John's Reviews > Tongues of Serpents

Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
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's review
Jan 24, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-i-own, fantasy
Read in August, 2010

An Important Turning Point in the Temeraire Saga

In her Temeraire saga, fellow Brunonian Naomi Novik has offered a most beguiling historical fantasy set in the Napoleonic Wars, an elegant mixture of Patrick O'Brian's and Anne McCaffrey's best work. But it has been one fraught with literary and historical peril, since she has been quite remarkable in staying true to real events and personalities set in this time. However, hers was never really meant to be a genuine history, but rather instead, a fantasy set in an alternative history timeline. In "Tongues of Serpents", Novik has done a fine job in presenting yet another riveting installment in the Temeraire saga, which is also an important turning point in the subsequent fates of both the dragon Temeraire and his friend and master, Captain William Laurence, formerly, of His Britannic Majesty's Aerial Corps.

Sent in disgrace to far-flung distant Australia, Laurence and Temeraire contend with intrigue both within their ranks and without, as they find themselves becoming unexpectedly the leaders in a desperate search across the largely unexplored south Australian coast, seeking a missing dragon egg. In a realistic and mythical Australian desert landscape, they and their companions must contend with unforeseen dangers, both real and imagined. Their encounters with likes of Admiral William Bligh, Australian aborigines, as well as those from a distant, but still important, world power, are as noteworthy as ever, told once more via Novik's riveting, well-written prose. While diehard fans may miss much of the drama and intrigue found in earlier volumes of the Temeraire saga, they will find themselves rewarded with Novik's mesmerizing account of Laurence and Temeraire's desperate Australian trek and of the unfamiliar landscape which they encounter.

(Reposted from my 2010 Amazon review)

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