Julie 's Reviews > Empire of Ivory

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
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's review
May 13, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: author_female, fantasy, geo_asia, geo_europe, history, pub_post-1945, series, type_fiction
Recommended to Julie by: Jim Dressner

I cannot think of another fantasy series, other than Dragonriders of Pern, in which the books keep getting better, but this fourth book in the Temeraire series is my favorite so far. Previous books in this truly imaginative series have taken place in England, China, Istanbul and eastern Europe. This book sends Captain Laurence and his trusty dragon Temeraire to Africa in the company of other characters we have grown to know in the previous novels. I don't want to give too much away, but the plot twists kept surprising me right up to the very end. Naomi Novik is improving as a writer with each book she puts out. It is evident from her beautiful and detailed descriptions that Ms. Novik has been to Africa; at times her writing about that continent made me feel that I was actually there. The characters in this book, particularly Laurence and Temeraire, but others, too, get deeply examined. And while many fantasy novels feature strong female characters who defy the traditional role of women, I cannot recall one that takes on the British armed forces circa 1807. I absolutely adored the sections of the book that detailed Laurence's inner monolog as he tries to reconcile his own strict upbringing with the realities of life in the "Arial Corps" where women can outrank men and duty requires them to have babies out of wedlock. Finally, the author should be lauded for taking on several thorny political issues including slavery and weapons of mass destruction, themes that have not been dealt with so searingly and tellingly in any other novel--fantasy or scifi--I have read recently. The friend who originally got me started on this series only has the first four books, so all along I have thought to myself that I would stop reading once I finished those four. But this chapter in the lives of "His Majesty's Dragons" was so very good that I am going to immediately go looking for the next book.

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