Review of Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

The ninth and final book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series—League of Dragons—is out on June 14.  Alas, I have only read the first three books.  While I catch up, my review of the book 3, Black Powder War, is below.

Set during the Napoleonic Wars (with dragons providing each country an air force), the Temeraire Series follows Captain Will Laurence and his dragon Temeraire, a powerful dragon of Chinese origin captured from the French as an egg.  Black Powder War opens with Laurence and Temeraire still in China following the events of Throne of Jade.

Black Powder War cover

However, they quickly find themselves racing recklessly overland to Turkey in response to a cryptic note.  Most of the book is spent in Turkey and Prussia, with the sequences in the latter tracking the actual events of the Napoleonic Wars far more closely than the first two Temeraire books.

At book three, the Temeraire series continues to improve with each.  Black Powder War features quality political intrigue, humor (courtesy of a band of feral dragons), and by far the most action yet.  Borrowing from a real military campaign helps, and Novik is getting much better at presenting “realistic” dragon battles.  We also see the kind of leap forward in military tactics typically seen during war, particularly one on as large a scale as this one.  Napoleon makes his first “on-screen” appearance, and Temeraire picks up a nemesis.

4.5/5 Stars.

About H.P.

Blogs on books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday (speculative fiction) and Hillbilly Highways (country noir and nonfiction).
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