Review: Black Powder War

Series: Temeraire: #3

“One man can go where a group cannot, and manage on very little, particularly a rough adventurer such as he. More the point, he risks only himself when he goes: you much consider that in your charge is an inexpressibly valuable dragon, whose loss must be of greater importance than even this mission."

“Oh, pray, let us be gone at once,” said the inexpressibly valuable dragon, when Laurence had carried the question, still unresolved, back to him. “It sounds very exciting to me.”

His Majesty's Dragon started strong, with dragons fighting great battles in the Napoleonic wars. In Throne of Jade, we took almost an entire book to get to get to (and then some of that to) experience China. So now in Black Powder War… we get to come home?

More seriously, it’s actually quite a story. Laurence and Temeraire get a super important message (tm) that there are dragon eggs that need picked up in Istanbul. There isn’t time to book a ship… so they’re about to travel the Old Silk Road across a huge chunk of land.

Hijinks ensue (deserts are serious business, especially when traveling with such a large companion as Temeraire), the Sultan doesn’t want to give up the eggs, and the albino Celestial (Lien) from Throne of Jade seems hellbent on revenge. It’s quite an adventure story and an interesting look both at the real world of that time… and more than a dose of ‘what if dragons’.

“He says to land,” Tharkay translated, with improbable brevity; at Laurence’s frowning look he added, “and he calls us a great many impolite names; do you wish them all translated?”

On top of that, when they’re finally back in Europe, they get more or less recruited by the Prussians in lieu of a promised 20 British Dragons, so we finally get back to more of the war–or we would, if we didn’t get pages and pages of descriptions of how terrible the conditions can be in war and how poorly infantry and a living air force work together when forced.

Laurence could make no real quarrel with the aims, which were natural and just; but England was at war, after all, and he was conscious, as Temeraire was not, of the impudence in demanding concessions from their own Government under such circumstances: very like mutiny.

Overall, it’s a fun book. I enjoy the stories of travelling around the world (sounds like we’re in for a bunch more of that) and the war is still fascinating to me. The characters really to sell it–perhaps one reason why I like the audiobooks so much, Temeraire’s voice is just fun.

I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re all going to do with the introduction of a few more fascinating dragons into the mix: Arkady and the ferals along with newborn Iskierka. No more fearing spoilers, but they’re a lot of fun.