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Black Powder War [Mass Market Paperback]

Naomi Novik
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 30 2006 Temeraire (Book 3)
“A splendid series.”
–Anne McCaffrey

“Naomi Novik has done for the Napoleonic Wars what Anne McCaffrey did for science fiction: constructed an alternate reality in which dragons are real in a saga that is impressively original, fully developed, and peopled with characters you care about.”
–David Weber, author of the Honor Harrington series

After their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty’s Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing urgent new orders from Britain. Three valuable dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman Empire, and Laurence and Temeraire must detour to Istanbul to escort the precious cargo back to England. Time is of the essence if the eggs are to be borne home before hatching.

Yet disaster threatens the mission at every turn–thanks to the diabolical machinations of the Chinese dragon Lien, who blames Temeraire for her master’s death and vows to ally herself with Napoleon and take vengeance. Then, faced with shattering betrayal in an unexpected place, Laurence, Temeraire, and their squad must launch a daring offensive. But what chance do they have against the massed forces of Bonaparte’s implacable army?

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From Booklist

*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

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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Most helpful customer reviews
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 B. 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  101 reviews
31 of 33 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.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As engaging and fun as ever, even if the war is getting a bit tiresome and drawn out Feb. 18 2007
By N. Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
While the third volume in the ongoing series (not a trilogy as it initially appeared) sticks fairly closely to the mold of the first two, there is enough novelty and interesting development here to keep the reader eagerly reading. The end is only disappointing insofar as at the finish of this volume there appears to be no real end in sight. On the one hand, that is cause for minor celebration, since it means that the characters who have been introduced in the first three volumes will be around for some time -- I wouldn't be surprised if this draws out to nine or ten volumes. On the other hand, some kind of real closure would be nice -- even if it were to begin again with another trilogy. What distinguishes this fantasy series from many other popular fantasy pieces is that it is tied to historical events (that are reimagined and tweaked, to accommodate within an alternate reality like our own the existence of intelligent dragons). That means it can't have some kind of artificial ending (Harry Potter finishes at Hogwarts, and/or he or Voldemort die; the Ring gets destroyed; etc.), but only the relative kind of ending that is possible in real history (a battle ends and there is a time before a new one begins; a king is crowned; a revolution takes place, etc.). This one ends, it seems, with no more certainty than the series began with. Temeraire has greater ambitions for dragonkind, but it is gradually becoming clear that these ambitions will have to take second place to the war with Napoleon. While that makes sense, and the war even in this reality took a long time, I'm not sure how much patience I will continue to have with the series if the plot continues to be, roughly: crises leading to character development and then some drawn about battle after which they need to rest and there are crises leading to character development and then another drawn out battle ... in this one, especially, she found ways to introduce a great deal of variety into this general schema, but at least this reader can only get so far interested in battle formations and dragons and ships and infantry fighting back and forth. What is really interesting in the story are the various characters, and the insights into dragon intelligence and ways of thinking and especially Temeraire's growing understanding of the world and increasing dissatisfaction with the position of dragons in the West. I can't help but wish, like Temeraire in the story, for the war to end soon so that these other issues can become the focus.

While this theme is the most intriguing, and gives the whole series a political and social edge that serves at least allegorically to encourage thinking about the kinds of oppressions with which our own history has been replete, it still continues to stretch credibility the extent to which the abilities and intelligence of dragons are, it seems, only just becoming known. The parallel with slavery, that is alluded to here, and the delusions about slaves that for so long justified the practice in the minds of their oppressors makes some sense of the way dragons are treated here -- and if you combine that with the idea that in their affections dragons are something like dogs, who become attached to the first person they imprint upon, and therefore less likely to revolt than they might otherwise, it can be further explained, but the dragons are not stupid and it is really difficult to credit that human beings would not know more about such powerful beings.

Still, there is inevitably some need to suspend disbelief in a story about dragons, and Novik treads a fine line between immersing us in a fantasy realm and developing parallels with our own history. It remains much more fun to read than most science fiction/fantasy I have seen in some time, and it is a bit silly to complain that there is more to come.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars L-- and T-- meander across Asia and Europe July 16 2008
By Margaret P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Black Powder War" is an alternate history novel, set in Europe and Asia at the time of the Napoleanic war. This novel continues where "Throne of Jade" leaves off with the (untrue) promise that this novel will focus on T--'s attempts to reform Brittish law concerning dragons. Instead, this novel follows L-- and T-- as they meander through a series of loosely related adventures across Asia and Europe. Along the way, they are confounded by new orders, frustrated by stupid managers, and delighted with new dragon friends.

This novel is fairly intersting and creative, and the new dragon friends absolutely delightful. My problem with this novel is that it doesn't deliver what was promised, doesn't really seem to go anywhere, and relies too heavy on the "stupid boss" theme. The reader is left at the end with another (untrue) promise that the next book will delve into T--'s attempts to reform Brittish law concerning dragons (it doesn't, either). The overall feel of the novel is "the continuing adventures of L-- and T-- as they meander through life", and it feels somewhat like an awkward middle child, mainly consisting of backdrop for future plot lines. The novel has all of the usual sequel problems -- the unique premises being conveyed in the first two novels, the third novel was left in a weaker position. Readers who prefer books with multiple sequels may disagree on this issue and should probably add one star to my rating.

"Black Powder War" is an entertaining read and pleasant escape, though perhaps not worth keeping on your shelf after. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Hero Strikes Back or Forged Without Fire: A Champion for Catlover or perhaps The Hawk Eternal (A Novel of the Hawk Queen).
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