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Black Powder War [Paperback]

Naomi Novik
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Naomi Novik's stunning series of novels follow the global adventures of Captain William Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire as they are thrown together to fight for Britain during the turbulent time of the Napoleonic Wars. British flyer Will Laurence and his extraordinary Celestial dragon, Temeraire, gratefully anticipate their voyage home from China. But before they set sail, they are waylaid by urgent new orders. The British Government, having purchased three valuable dragon eggs from the Ottoman Empire - one of a rare fire-breathing Kazilik dragon, one of the most deadly breeds in existence - now require Laurence and Temeraire to make a more perilous overland journey instead, stopping off in Istanbul to collect and escort the precious cargo back to England. And time is of the essence if the eggs are to hatch upon British shores. A cross-continental expedition is a daunting prospect, fraught with countless dangers. The small party must be prepared to travel the treacherous Silk Road: navigating frigid mountain passes and crossing sterile deserts to evade feral dragon attacks and Napoleon's aggressive infantry. Barely surviving the poisonous intrigue of the Ottoman Court, the small British party's journey home is delayed once more. The Prussians muster their forces before them, barring their way, and Laurence and Temeraire become swept up in the battle against Bonaparte - trapped by politics as they learn that the British had promised to send their allies aid - but help is months overdue. The crew will also face unexpected menace, for a Machiavellian herald precedes them, spreading political poison in her wake. Lien, the white celestial dragon, absconded from the Chinese Imperial Court shortly after the humiliating death of her beloved princely companion. Fervently believing Temeraire to be the architect of her anguish, she has vowed to ally herself with his greatest enemy in order to exact a full and painful revenge upon everything and everyone the black dragon holds dear.

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*Starred Review* Captain Laurence had commanded a ship in the Royal Navy (see His Majesty's Dragon, 2006) but was relegated to the aviator corps after bonding with the hatchling from the dragon egg his ship found aboard a French prize his ship had seized. He and Temeraire, the hatchling, are a team now. In Throne of Jade (2006), the admiralty want sent Temeraire to China with Laurence. Temeraire is a Celestial, hence among the very finest of dragons. Indeed, Temeraire, or Lung Tien Xiang, is an imperial prince. At the end of Throne of Jade, the British party, including Temeraire, is free to return to England. In Black Powder War, urgent orders lead them overland to Turkey, where they encounter a vengeful Lung they had worsted in Peking. Laurence and Temeraire reach German lands in time for the battle of Jena, where they face Napoleon's corps, a ferocious French dragon, and the disgruntled Lung. Novik's magical eighteenth century, peopled with sympathetic characters, induces avid reading. Long may she write! Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Review

"Novik won me over with her first novel. the combination of history, sympathetic characters, and an engaging style makes this series great, intelligent fun.' The Times 'Plenty of intrigue, swordplay, exotic locations, plausible invention. In short a treat.' The Telegraph 'These are beautifully written novels, not only fresh, original and fast-paced, but full of wonderful characters with real heart.' Peter Jackson 'Novik has stirred the passions with a genre-busting historical fantasy of the first order.' Sunday Sport 'In the best tradition of fantasy, historical fiction and nautical novels.' Guardian 'A splendid novel. Not only is it a new way to utilize dragons, it's a very clever one and fits neatly into the historical niche this author has used. The plot was excellent, extraordinary in that the reader has no idea where it's leading--which is always fun. Let's hope this is the first of many from Naomi Novik. She'll be one to watch.' Anne McCaffrey 'Just when you think you've seen every variation possible on the dragon story, along comes Naomi Novik to prove you wrong. Her wonderful "Temeraire" is a dragon for the ages and a fitting companion for the brave, steadfast Will Laurence.' Terry Brooks

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The saga continued June 21 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Unfortunately although I love stories about dragons, I dislike war stories, so for me there was too much emphasis on war and killing, and i had to plod through the story to find the parts I like. I also find it frustrating to have to have so much interference by the upper ranks in the day to day operations of any group. Like bureaucrats everywhere who are usually short sighted, I disliked so much time spent on the problems they created in this book. Just not my thing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great! Dec 9 2012
By D.Lutz
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Temperature is just fun to read. Makes you wish dragons were around. You won't be disappointed reading this series. Read them!
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By Bart Breen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Novik takes the reader to yet another venue in this series set in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars. From England, to China and now from China through the Middle-East and Ottoman Empire the story line begun is expanded to plant more strongly the seeds of the social debate of that era over slavery, an illustration of the diplomatic relationships between England and it's natural allies in Europe who were faced with walking the fine line of contributing to the difficulties of France without attracting the attention of France and its armies.

Continued as well is a deepening of relationship between the main protagonists which highlights the biases and prejudices of one of them, which absent this foundation some of the future conflicts would not be as believable and illustrative of the dilemmas portrayed.

Novik demonstrates again why she is so effective in this genre. In a completely fictional fantasy setting, Novik draws the reader in to begin to see the themes and issues that were part of the actual human experience of that day and age. Never mind that the human experience is personified in a dragon!

This is yet another highly entertaining and readable offering that will not disappoint.

5 stars.

Bart Breen
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  104 reviews
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than before-drama, politics, action and high fantasy for dragon lovers July 26 2006
By Lilly Flora - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Easily the best of the bunch, "Black Powder War" is the third in the historical fantasy Temeraire series. We start as Laurence and crew are leaving China, Laurence having just become the adopted son of the Chinese emperor so that he is worthy of a dragon of Temeraire's class. All our friends are on a slow ship heading back to Britain when a fire breaks out on board, nearly gutting the ship and causing a possible three month delay while its repaired, The dragon crew considers going overland, but are forced to when an urgent message comes from England-three dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman empire by England and they need Temeraire to pick them up and deliver them.

Of course the journey overland is hard, and involves a meeting with a large group of feral dragons-who turn out to be not so feral after all. While they tell Temeraire a soap opera story about dragons he continues on his quest to get better treatment, including city residences and pay, for the British dragons. Laurence is worried about such thoughts, because he knows that nothing like that will ever come to pass and he doesn't want Temeraire to desert for China and a better life.

Once in the Ottoman Empire there are problems, and the shadow of the mad and evil white Celestial dragon hangs over Laurence's head as she follows them west. Soon problems from Napoleon and the eggs overthrow any of Laurence's concerns about Temeraire, and everyone's lives are thrown into peril.

Temeraire really gets a personality in this book, and even Laurence's worrying and duty bound personality begins to improve. The feral dragons are a riot, and the action in this book is breathtaking. This one actually had me up all night reading, and it won't disappoint anyone who even sort of liked "His Majesty's Dragon" or "Throne of Jade". This book ranks an easy four stars, and the letter at the end of it, from an unknown person talking of the dragons as stupid beasts casts a great shadow of drama for future books, as does the prequel for the next.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dragon Duels and Derring-Do Aug. 6 2006
By M. T. Campos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was hesitant in buying this last one because the reviews I was reading seemed to dwell on the military campaigns of Napoleon (yes, he makes a cameo appearance). I supposed the title of the book didn't help. But really the Napoleonic War doesn't start until Page 200 of a 365 Page Book. And I was surprised to see how skillfully and plausibly the author wove the dragons into the war. It was a WORTHY and Most Exciting finale to the Temeraire Trilogy.

Do not miss any of it. You will see how expertly the dragons are used in battle. How Lien, the outcast albino dragon, who lost her captain, the perfidious prince Yongxing (read THRONE OF JADE), defected to the side of the French, in order to effect a most ingenious revenge on Temeraire and Laurence.

Most noteworthy is the development of the dragon psyche. We are introduced to the feral dragons of the Turkish mountains . . dragons in their natural state who have never known the harness but consequently aren't that well-fed either. (Comic relief after a particularly intense journey through the desert). And Temeraire beg us to consider the emancipation of all dragons though his fascinating discussions with Laurence concerning the issues of choice and freedom. THere's also the dragon eggs themselves-- whose value-- figures a greal deal in all the books. How do the dragons feel about separation from their eggs?

5 Stars! (Some heartbreak in the fate of some members of Temeraire's crew.) I do so hate these moments when I have to whip out a hanky for characters in a Fantasy! But I guess that tells you how well-written this book truly is!

I look forward to more, Ms. Novik! Consider me a life-long fan!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Continues to be good, but where is the ending? July 5 2006
By L. Daub - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is quite similar to the previous two in the series, which I count as a point in its favor. I might have liked more dragon-master relationship building, but I was not displeased overall on that count.

This book was however severely wanting in any kind of satisfactory ending. Maybe it is because I rarely read fantasy, and tend to stay away from "endless" epic adventure stories...but I would have imagined that three books would have contained enough pages to have fully told a complete story. With this book's ending, I really get the feeling that I am being strung along. I know this is probably wise marketing, and that some fantasy readers love a series that promises never to end. I however, and I am sure some others of you out there, want an engaging tale told over one, or at most a few, books.

As it is Novik seems to have taken at most two books worth of material, stretched it out to three, and STILL not managed to tie anything of consequence up in the process.

So, while the book was still on the whole enjoyable, this is a warning to others like me who were hoping for a nice trilogy and not a never-ending story.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but... Aug. 10 2006
By RosaleeLuAnn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I gave this book four stars, but almost gave it five. Four and a half stars would probably be what I'd say it deserves.

Like in the two previous books, there is adventure, character development, and occasional humor. But it didn't quite drive me like the first two did.

The first time I read this book, I would not have considered five stars at all, it would have had three or four. I re-read it, however, and I liked it better after I did (perhaps because when re-reading I can skip over the least interesting parts, but I did not do a whole lot of skipping.)

The journey across the desert was interesting, but didn't interest me enough. The long wait in Istanbul was almost as frustrating for me as for the characters. The worst was the section promised by the title, near the end of the journey, when Laurence and Temeraire join the Prussians in their war against the French--again, almost as frustrating and depressing for me as for the characters.(I suppose this could be a good writing technique to get you to connect with the caracters, lol ;) After that, however, it does improve, (*small spoiler*) with the hatching of Iskierka, who had me laughing out loud over and over at her antics.

If you read and liked the first two books in the series, give this one a try, it is very good, and promises of better things to come.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read. Jan. 4 2007
By Melanie Ivanoff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed this series thus far. The mixing of fantasy and real world 19th century history works better than I first believed. There are plenty of rich details about the life of the dragons and their riders as well as the society. The only problem I have with these novels is that they seem to follow the "Mercedes Lackey" school of plotting: big action in the beginning then a long, slow middle, with all the various plotlines resolved too quickly in the last 40 pages. With each of the novels I have had to backtrack over the last 2 chapters or so just to figure out what was going on. I will still read any further release in the series though as they are absorbing reads.
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