Saturday, July 23, 2011
Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
In this latest installment Temeraire and Laurence are exiled to Australia because of their actions in books previous to this one. When they arrive there they find that the previous governor Bligh has been overthrown by a local man named MacArthur. This leaves Laurence in an awkward position because as he owns a very large and powerful dragon they both want to curry his favor in order to use Temeraire to secure power in the developing colony.
In order to avoid being manipulated by the current political battles Laurence and Temeraire accept the mission to explore the Blue Mountains and find a route through them. En route through the mountains they discover that a dragon egg that they have been guarding has been stolen. So they begin a lengthy search across the entire continent of Australia to gain the little dragon hatchling back.
So, this book had a lot of wandering across the wild and deadly outback of Australia, which was not my favorite story line of all the books. They meet a lot of challenges and dangers along the way: a huge thunderstorm that starts a fire, lack of water, lack of food, mysterious man-snatching monsters. So there is enough drama and high adventure to be had but Australia is a continent and they cross the entire thing! So traveling is the majority of the book. Not so much fun as battles with Napoleon.
My favorite parts of the book included the hatching of the new eggs. I love watching eggs get hatched they are funny as you get to see the personality of the dragon right off. In fact, I just love seeing the dragon personalities interact at all. They are all so headstrong and funny and thoroughly in love with their captains that each new dragon is endearing in its own way. Tharkay gets to come along because he has been hired to figure out who is smuggling goods through Australia’s ports. I really liked that plot line and the fact that we got to meet merchants from so many different places, including America.
So, while this book was not my favorite in the series there is still plenty to enjoy! I am already excited to see how the author will develop the seeds she planted in this novel in the next books. Will Laurence and Temeraire head to America, settle in an Australian valley (very likely), or head back to China? Will they become privateers or herd cattle? Will they get pardoned and head to battle Napoleon in South America? I like how this novel hinted at greater globalization and it shall be fun to see what the crops up in the next novel along those lines. Laurence and Temeraire have already visited Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa. I am guessing that the Americas lie in their future! I hope we get to meet new dragons. I always love new dragons.
Oh, sidenote usually these books are pretty clean, but there are one or two instances of serious swearing and one or two polite as possibe references to extremely crude acts on the part of the convicts. This is done on the part of the author to show just how truly uncivilized life is in Australia. Prison colony people. Not pretty. I thought it was in good taste, but people liked to at least be warned about these things sometimes.