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Tongues of Serpents

(Temeraire #6)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  14,013 ratings  ·  976 reviews
A dazzling blend of military history, high-flying fantasy, and edge-of-your-seat adventure, Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels, set in an alternate Napoleonic era in which intelligent dragons have been harnessed as weapons of war, are more than just perennial bestsellers—they are a worldwide phenomenon. Now, in Tongues of Serpents, Naomi Novik is back, along with the dragon Te ...more
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published July 13th 2010 by Del Rey
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3.71  · 
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 ·  14,013 ratings  ·  976 reviews

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Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[3.5/5 stars] I’m not sure yet how I feel about the series as a whole, but I’ve found myself picking up these novels for a very specific Temeraire “fix,” if that makes sense. The books are all fairly similar but the highlight continues to be the dragons. This novel had them exploring the Australian Outback… basically on the periphery of the Napoleonic War (again), and even though not much happened, per se, I still enjoyed the interplay between the dragons and humans. I’m not getting a lot of sub ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018-shelf, fantasy
I have been a pretty good fan of this series, but unfortunately, I've grown tired of it by now.

This isn't dragons against Napoleon anymore. This isn't an intrigue in China. This is exile to Australia.

Long treks, dragon eggs, and filler await us. Maybe it's because I took almost a decade to return to the series or I burned out, but this didn't capture my imagination. Almost at all. No hope for glory, just establishing a colony? For dragons?

This is how the world ends. With a whimper, not a bang.
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
October 2010

Tongues of Serpents brings William Laurence, his dragon Temeraire, their friends Granby and Iskierka, and three dragon eggs, to the colony of Sydney in New South Wales--but not for long. The governor of New South Wales has been overthrown, but Laurence is in no mood for politics. Instead, Laurence and Granby agree to take their dragons, along with the first egg hatched to one of Laurence's old rivals, Captain Rankin, on a simple mission into Australia's interior. There, the second eg
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
I have said previously that Naomi Novik hasn't hit a sour note, nor made a wrong step throughout her Temeraire series. I guess this is what I get for speaking too soon. Naomi Novik is still an extremely consistent writer, and whenever I've picked up a Temeraire book I've had a remarkably accurate idea of what to expect from the novel.

Simply put, however, this one was the exception and it proved to be a bit of a disappointment. It's the smallest Temeraire book, yet it felt like it was the longes
Jamie Collins
This is as well-written as the earlier books, with great dialogue, and I very much enjoyed the characters. But the story is a little dull, particularly in comparison with the previous book. Our heroes spend most of the time traipsing around in Australia in the middle of nowhere.

I didn't see much point to the plot, and the Aviators seemed disorganized and unprofessional; an impression I don't remember getting from the earlier books. It's also beginning to seem odd that Europe is the only place in
Dear Naomi Novik,

First of all, Java is located in Indonesia. Most importantly, there was no Indonesia yet during the Napoleonic Era. Using the name Dutch Indies would be more appropriate.

Secondly, is this just a filler between Victory of Eagles and the next book? It surely feels like it. *sigh*

Thirdly, could you please stop writing about long tedious journeys? Going through the Silk Road in book 3 and Africa road trip in book 4 were exhausting enough.

Fourthly, thank you for bringing fresh new
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

This will be quite a short review as I am honestly running out of things to say about this series. And at 6 books in I feel like people are either committed to reading the series till the end so my opinion will probably make little difference or they’ve already abandoned the series already and so are probably not even looking at reviews anyway.

Although I still enjoyed this book it felt a lot like a ‘filler’ in the series. I think the author decided that Temeraire and Laurence had to sp
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Wow... boring. Pretty sure I could have skipped this one and not missed much at all. I still love Temeraire though.
May 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star
How can you possibly make a story about the first days of Australian colonization boring? Well, ToS is how... The beginning of Tongues of Serpents was dreadful: slow paced, political in the most uninteresting ways, and action that falls short of it's rich setting.

I mean, come on! This is the wild and untamed Australia!! And all the characters spend doing for half the book is chasing people across the vast landscape. Sure there are some killer earthworms, but even then, it was just so hard to car
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
This was 90% filler, 8% talking and 2% action.

Laurence and Temeraire are exiled to Australia, along with three dragon eggs and I'm guessing the weird assumption that Temeraire won't somehow corrupt the eggs on the way with potential members of the aviation corps? I don't know. The reasoning behind it seemed really loose and more of an excuse to get them on another adventure to Australia.

As for Australia itself, I was looking forward to viewing something that was a whole lot different than the pl
Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun easy read and a continuation of the story of Temeriare without too much happening. But getting us ready for the decisions to be made in the next book.
Mogsy (MMOGC)
These books are still a joy to read, though I've pretty much accepted that none of the sequels in this series are ever going to come close to being as good as the first book again. At least this one was better than the last, which sees Laurence and Temeraire back on an adventure again in a faraway exotic place.

This time, the crew finds themselves in Australia, with Laurence having been banished to the prison colony of New South Wales after being convicted of treason. The British Aerial Corps has
Oda Renate
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
It was in the same vein as the others, midldly interesting.
hopefully the next books will puck up again, them being the last three books
May 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010, fantasy
This was just so boring. I just don't understand where this series went wrong--the first one is so funny, and it's about DRAGONS fighting NAPOLEON. But they've gradually stopped being funny and have turned into dragons visiting all the continents. For some reason. This one is just the dragons flying across Australia and accomplishing nothing. Seriously, just chapters and chapters of them flying around for a purpose too flimsy to support a months-long journey across uncharted territory; a purpose ...more
Timelord Iain
The plot of this one seemed lacking... it's always nice to spend time with Temeraire and Iskierka... and Kulingile was a great addition... but I expected more from a locale like Australia... hopefully Brazil is better, next time...
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Waffling between a 2 and 3 star. It was just meh.
Timothy Boyd
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Seems there are dragons everywhere. Now the story goes to Australia and of course we get to see all new dragons and monsters for the characters to encounter. Great story with action and humor throughout. Very recommended
There has been a fair amount of negative reviews for this book on this site, but to be honest I didn't think it was that bad a book. Not great, and not up to the standard of previous volumes, but not bad either.

Laurence and Temeraire have arrived in Australia as convicts, but they find themselves in a difficult position when they come across William Bligh (of HMS Bounty fame), who has been deposed as Governor of the new colony. Bligh wants the dragons to help reinstate him, and he is non too sub
Actual review: 2.5

I can feel myself gradually losing interest and I’m not happy about it.


This… was… so… painfully… slow. I found this to be the weakest of her books so far and it is based solely on the pacing of this book. There were pages where it dragged on and on and on… and nothing happened. Usually, I’m not picky about these things. Historical fiction is rarely as fast-moving as other genres, but this was clearly a stretch. This was so clearly a filler in the series that it co
Rachel (Kalanadi)
May 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Let's get this out of the way: I was disappointed in this book.

It's the sixth in a series that's been losing steam and going adrift since book three or four. And I hate to say that, but Tongues of Serpents was downright boring and this was more crushing than I expected because it could have been great.

The Temeraire series follows Laurence and his dragon Temeraire as they fight for England in the Napoleonic Wars. Previous adventures have taken them from England to China and Africa, and in Tongues
When I zone out for a minute and suddenly a dragon is ripping a serpent's head off with its teeth...

Also, I find it pretty funny that I was reading 2 historical fiction (emphasis on the fiction) books at the same time that both had characters named Caesar, except one was the actual Julius Caesar and the other was an ambitious dragon.
The Temeraire series answers the age-old question, "How would the Napoleonic Wars change if dragons existed?"

In the first book, His Majesty's Dragon, the answer is that not much would change--all the European nations have dragons, and they treat them like a cross between pets and battleships. The only real change is that communication is slightly faster and some additional battles are fought in the air. The main character, Laurence, is a British naval captain who befriends the dragon Temeraire;
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-along
Will Laurence and Temeraire have been banished to Australia to establish new breeding grounds, convicts in all but name. But the colony is mutinous, its Governor in exile, and the continent hazardous, with no obvious opportunities for redemption.

Unfortunately, Tongues of Serpents passes up almost all of the exciting opportunities intrinsic to its setting in favour of a slow-burn plot that never really catches fire. I'm used to Temeraire books being episodic travelogues that build character, but
Jul 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: england, australia, 2010
There is much to love about book six in the Temeraire series - the dragons, in particular, are at their finest, with some new voices that continue to expand what we think we know about the dragon world. I was so glad to spend time with Temeraire again, in particular, with all his wonderful dragon logic that cuts right through the artifice and silliness of human society. I am also thrilled beyond the telling of it to learn that the Iroquois and Ojibwe have their own dragons and I cannot wait unti ...more
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is by far the most disappointing of the Temeraire series. It's the sixth book, and Novik is definitely running out of steam (or else on autopilot now that Peter Jackson has optioned the series...either way, NOT GOOD when you have three books left to write).

This latest installment finds Laurence and Temeraire banished to the far side of the world (i.e. the fledgling British colony in Australia). Lots of nothing happens, some eggs hatch, more nothing, then a brief skirmish with some sea serp
Nov 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
I can't wait to finish this book, so I can put it down and hope the next one is better. (The last one wasn't very fun to read either). My dislike may be affected by the cold I have as I am reading it.

I can't tell if Novik hates her characters or her readers more. I'm 4/5 of the way through, and only two good things have happened to anybody: the protagonist was exiled to Australia instead of executed, and a minor character we are supposed to like adopted a gimpy dragon instead of it being execute
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Ms. Novik is still off her game from the earliest books in the series. This keeps the series alive but the overall story is dull by comparison to the earlier books. The moral dilemma of saving all the dragons in the world at the expense of being a traitor to England has just not been a good path for this series. All fun of a professionally pompous good hearted British Naval Officer being introduced to the world of fighting dragons, that includes forward thinking females to complicate his ineptne ...more
Thomas Wilson
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, war
I always enjoy these books. I am a fan of Patrick O'Brien and Naomi books are very similiar, Good History, period correct in the technology and specifics of the book , yet she added in this collection of rich characters which are dragons, utterly amazing!

I also enjoy the fact the main characters don't live in a fairy tale world where their lot in life just gets better as you go along. It goes up and down, and for the most part their situation has gotten progressively worse overall. You read hopi
Kaethe Douglas
2011 September 25

This volume has Laurence and Temeraire transported to New South Wales along with a hold full of convicts. We're introduced to Bligh, who has recently lost his post as governor to the colony in an uprising. We get to contemplate colonization and the rights of natives during a cross-country hunt for a stolen dragon egg. Great stuff, with plenty of surprises along the way.

Library copy.
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An avid reader of fantasy literature since age six, when she first made her way through The Lord of the Rings, Naomi Novik is also a history buff with a particular interest in the Napoleonic era and a fondness for the work of Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen. She studied English literature at Brown University, and did graduate work in computer science at Columbia University before leaving to partic ...more

Other books in the series

Temeraire (9 books)
  • His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, #1)
  • Throne of Jade (Temeraire, #2)
  • Black Powder War (Temeraire, #3)
  • Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, #4)
  • Victory of Eagles (Temeraire, #5)
  • Crucible of Gold (Temeraire, #7)
  • Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire, #8)
  • League of Dragons (Temeraire, #9)
“It seems to me after a fellow has been mutinied against three or four times, there is something to it besides bad luck.” 27 likes
“If you will pardon my saying so," Tharkay said, "you will never satisfy them on that point: the last thing you or Temeraire will ever give anyone is quiet obedience. Have you considered it might be better not to try?” 9 likes
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