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Crucible of Gold [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

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

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Book Description

March 6 2012 Temeraire (Unnumbered Hardcover)
Naomi Novik’s beloved series returns, with Captain Will Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire once again taking to the air against the broadsides of Napoleon’s forces and the friendly—and sometimes not-so-friendly—fire of British soldiers and politicians who continue to suspect them of divided loyalties, if not outright treason. 
 
For Laurence and Temeraire, put out to pasture in Australia, it seems their part in the war has come to an end just when they are needed most. But perhaps they are no longer alone in this opinion. Newly allied with the powerful African empire of the Tswana, the French have occupied Spain and brought revolution and bloodshed to Brazil, threatening Britain’s last desperate hope to defeat Napoleon.
 
And now the government that sidelined them has decided they have the best chance at negotiating a peace with the angry Tswana, who have besieged the Portuguese royal family in Rio—and thus offer to reinstate Laurence to his former rank and seniority as a captain in the Aerial Corps. Temeraire is delighted by this sudden reversal of fortune, but Laurence is by no means sanguine, knowing from experience that personal honor and duty to one’s country do not always run on parallel tracks.
 
Nonetheless, the pair embark for Brazil, only to meet with a string of unmitigated disasters that force them to make an unexpected landing in the hostile territory of the Incan empire, where they face new unanticipated dangers.
 
Now with the success of the mission balanced on a razor’s edge, and failure looking more likely by the minute, the unexpected arrival of an old enemy will tip the scales toward ruin. Yet even in the midst of disaster, opportunity may lurk—for one bold enough to grasp it.

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Review

Praise for Naomi Novik and her novels of Temeraire
 
“Novik’s influences run the gamut from Jane Austen to Patrick O’Brian, with a side trip through Anne McCaffrey. Her books are completely involving and probably addictive, their central conceit explored in clever detail with a great deal of wit and historical insight.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“These are beautifully written novels: not only fresh, original, and fast-paced, but full of wonderful characters with real heart.”—Peter Jackson
 
“A gripping adventure full of rich detail and the impossible wonder of gilded fantasy.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“A new writer is soaring on the wings of a dragon.”—The New York Times
 
“[This is] a glorious series whose future status as a genre classic is now assured.”—SF Reviews

About the Author

Naomi Novik is the acclaimed author of His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, and Tongues of Serpents, the first six volumes of the Temeraire series, recently optioned by Peter Jackson, the Academy Award–winning director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 2007, Novik received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the World Science Fiction Convention. A history buff with a particular interest in the Napoleonic era, Novik studied English literature at Brown University, then did graduate work in computer science at Columbia University before leaving to participate in the design and development of the computer game Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide. She is also the author of the graphic novel Will Supervillains Be on the Final? Novik lives in New York City with her family and six computers.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By John Kwok TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Demonstrating again that she has become one of the best prose stylists in fantasy fiction, Naomi Novik's "Crucible of Gold" is one of the most compelling chapters in her fantasy and alternate history "Temeraire" series. Prior comparisons with Patrick O'Brian are definitely most apt here, in her mesmerizing accounts of Pacific tropical isles and South American rain forests, that rank easily alongside those depicted in O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. Equally commendable is her extensive description of Incan society and culture, which figure prominently in "Crucible of Gold", the 7th novel in the critically acclaimed, quite popular, "Temeraire" series. Though I admire the late Anne McCaffrey's work, including the "Dragonriders of Pern" series, that fine oeuvre is being surpassed by Naomi Novik's , since she has displayed consistently, a higher literary standard in each of her "Temeraire" novels. Without question, Novik is a writer worthy of comparison not only with McCaffrey, but also, with the likes of Neil Gaiman and Michael Swanwick; her latest novel brilliantly reaffirms that.

Restored unexpectedly to his former rank and seniority in His Britannic Majesty's Aerial Corps, Captain Laurence, Temeraire and their friends - both human and dragon - are compelled to take a hazardous sea voyage to South America, once more escorting diplomat Arthur Hammond, hoping to aid the exiled Portugese royal family in Rio De Janeiro, besieged by both the French and the Southern African Tswana dragonriders (The native people described in "Empire of Ivory", the fourth "Temeraire" novel).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Back in action Feb. 22 2014
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Will Laurence and his faithful dragon Temeraire have been living in exile in Australia for the past few years.

But building pavilions doesn't make for a very exciting book, so Naomi Novik's seventh novel is all about bringing the awesome pair back into action. It's a solid, tight historical fantasy that blasts Laurence and Temeraire into yet another strange exotic place, complete with shipwrecks, Frenchmen, whales, mutiny and feathered dragons.

Laurence is offered his commission back, because the British government has decided that it needs his help once more -- Brazil is in turmoil because of the Tswana empire, and the French have thrown Spain into chaos. Despite Laurence's misgivings, he and Temeraire leave on a ship for Brazil -- along with Demane, Granby, Iskierka and Kulingile.

But near the end of their voyage, their ship is destroyed, and the survivors find themselves marooned in the land of the Incas, ruled by dragons and not too pleased to see them. As they work their way to Rio, Temeraire and Laurence find themselves embroiled in another diplomatic disaster that can only end in another battle.

Temeraire and Laurence have gone to Asia, the Middle-East, Africa, Europe and even far-off Australia. Since they're rapidly running out of far-off places to visit, it's time for the pair to head off to South and Central America, which allows Novik to further flesh out her fictional world -- she mingles real history (Brazil's slavery issues) with fictional dragoncentric social customs.

The story also moves at a quicker pace than "Tongues of Serpents," with more dragon-fighting, fiery shipwrecks and a big climactic battle.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another disappointment. . . Aug. 13 2012
By Patrick St-Denis TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
With Tongues of Serpents turning out to be a major disappointment for me, I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to give Crucible of Gold a shot or not. Yet as the first volume of the three-book cycle that should bring the Temeraire series to a close, I was curious to see if Naomi Novik could recapture the magic that made the first few installments such original reads.

Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. This series has been losing steam for a while now, and Crucible of Gold is more of the same.

Here's the blurb:

Naomi Novik’s beloved series returns, with Capt. Will Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire once again taking to the air against the broadsides of Napoleon’s forces and the friendly—and sometimes not-so-friendly—fire of British soldiers and politicians who continue to suspect them of divided loyalties, if not outright treason.

For Laurence and Temeraire, put out to pasture in Australia, it seems their part in the war has come to an end just when they are needed most. Newly allied with the powerful African empire of the Tswana, the French have occupied Spain and brought revolution and bloodshed to Brazil, threatening Britain’s last desperate hope to defeat Napoleon.

So the British government dispatches Arthur Hammond from China to enlist Laurence and Temeraire to negotiate a peace with the angry Tswana, who have besieged the Portuguese royal family in Rio—and as bait, Hammond bears an offer to reinstate Laurence to his former rank and seniority as a captain in the Aerial Corps. Temeraire is delighted by this sudden reversal of fortune, but Laurence is by no means sanguine, knowing from experience that personal honor and duty to one’s country do not always run on parallel tracks.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  146 reviews
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Fans of the Temeraire series only (Spoiler-Free Review) Feb. 16 2012
By Eric L. Fletcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
If you are new to the Temeraire series stop: go purchase In His Majesty's Service which is the first three books in the series in a collection for you. Those are the best of the series by far, and worth every penny.

This is the kind of series which you cannot jump into at the end and really enjoy- there are so many references to prior books that this one will make little sense at times for those new to the series.

That said, for fans of the series, I imagine your questions are: is it as good as the first three books? Or as bad as the last two? The answer is neither. While not a return to the stellar first three, it is much improved over the last two which had many fans worried for the future of the franchise. Especially after the lowest average reviewed book of the series being the last one, Novik had a lot on the line. Another book like Tongues of Serpents: A Novel of Temeraire (Temeraire Series) would probably kill the series for most fans.

Fortunately, Novic scored with a solid return to form. In many ways this reminds me of Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, Book 4) which is a good thing. More action, more plot development and a bunch of well executed twists and turns- I would strongly suggest avoiding spoilers at all costs, as your enjoyment is likely to enhanced by your virtue. And at the end, the plot is set up well for the next book and I for one am now looking forward to it. Recommended for fans of the series. Everyone else, go buy the first three books. Now! Trust me!
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I won't be reading any more of these books March 7 2012
By LizB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Unfortunately authors will stay with a series too long, and that's what's happened to the Temeraire series. The first three books were great; the next two books were pretty good; the next to last book was mediocre. This one is dreadful. Novik has run out of inspiration here. Most of the people and dragons have turned flat, whiny, and/or negative. You don't want to be with these characters. Even Temeraire seems less interesting.

The plot rambles on across continents, with some exciting moments but plenty of tedium, too, especially in the second half. Throughout the book the dragons seem to be very concerned about what they're eating. (I'm not kidding.) This tells you something about the quality of the story. Is there a point to all this that engages our imagination and emotions? I don't think so.

I won't be reading any more books in this series. As far as I'm concerned, it's done. The ending to this book is contrived and inconclusive. Readers are supposed to hang on and buy the next book. No, thanks.
31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Fantastic Tale of Temeraire Courtesy of Naomi Novik Jan. 28 2012
By John Kwok - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Demonstrating again that she has become one of the best prose stylists in fantasy fiction, Naomi Novik's "Crucible of Gold" is one of the most compelling chapters in her fantasy and alternate history "Temeraire" series. Prior comparisons with Patrick O'Brian are definitely most apt here, in her mesmerizing accounts of Pacific tropical isles and South American rain forests, that rank easily alongside those depicted in O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. Equally commendable is her extensive description of Incan society and culture, which figure prominently in "Crucible of Gold", the 7th novel in the critically acclaimed, quite popular, "Temeraire" series. Though I admire the late Anne McCaffrey's work, including the "Dragonriders of Pern" series, that fine oeuvre is being surpassed by Naomi Novik's, since she has displayed consistently, a higher literary standard in each of her "Temeraire" novels. Without question, Novik is a writer worthy of comparison not only with McCaffrey, but also, with the likes of Neil Gaiman and Michael Swanwick; her latest novel brilliantly reaffirms that.

Restored unexpectedly to his former rank and seniority in His Britannic Majesty's Aerial Corps, Captain Laurence, Temeraire and their friends - both human and dragon - are compelled to take a hazardous sea voyage to South America, once more escorting diplomat Arthur Hammond, hoping to aid the exiled Portugese royal family in Rio De Janeiro, besieged by both the French and the Southern African Tswana dragonriders (The native people described in "Empire of Ivory", the fourth "Temeraire" novel.). Enduring shipwreck, capture by the French, and attacks by savage beasts and enemy military dragons, Laurence and Temeraire find themselves engaged in yet another epic struggle against the French, who are seeking to add South America as yet another large chunk of their vast worldwide empire. Laurence, Hammond and Temeraire will be compelled to have a battle of wits with a vainglorious emperor of the Old World and a mysterious empress of the New, setting the stage for an unexpected return to another great empire, seeking an ally willing to join Great Britain's solitary struggle against the Napoleonic French Empire.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent enough, though not memorable Feb. 10 2012
By Gus Smedstad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is book 7 of the Tremeraire series, so if you've made it this far, you're very familiar with the characters and the setting, and you enjoy both.

Starting with book 4 ("Empire of Ivory,") the Tremeraire books have been travelogues, with each new novel exploring a new location and populating it with dragons. Here, it's the Inca and Peru. Despite the setting, we don't really learn much about Incan culture. Rather, Crucible of Gold's Peru is largely about the culture of the dragons, which isn't terribly complex and largely colored by the death of much of the human population due to European diseases of Smallpox and Measles, which is the one aspect of the book that mirrors actual history.

It's entertaining enough, since a lot more happens than in Book 6 ("Tongue of Serpents.") I found myself enjoying the numerous passages told with Tremeraire's narrative voice, which is somewhat childish and pre-occupied with visible wealth and food, but still charming.

Ultimately, it's still episodic. The book abruptly leaves the current conflict between Peru and Brazil unresolved in a very unsatisfying way in order to provide a hook for the next book. It was enjoyable reading along the way, but I was left with the impression that Novik intends to string along the war between Britain and Napoleon forever, never really resolving anything, so she can continue to write novels in the same background.
23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best one yet? Jan. 28 2012
By Vickie T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I always hesitate to make pronouncements like "best one yet" about the latest book in a series, especially if it has been a while since I have read the early books. However, even if I'm not absolutely certain that this is the best one yet, I can confidently claim that this is the best of the more recent books. I have been just a tiny bit (holding up thumb and forefinger just barely apart) disappointed in some of the more recent books, but after reading Crucible of Gold, I'm back on the bandwagon. I loved this book.

Crucible of Gold is much more about exploration than about fighting, although the ongoing war with Napoleon certainly frames the story and is ever present. On the larger scale of exploration, our heroes meet and learn about the Incan dragons and their culture. On the smaller scale, the characters, both human and dragon, learn more about themselves and each other.

This book zips along at a quick pace and is full of twists and turns that take both the reader and the characters by surprise. I had a hard time putting it down and finished in 3 nights - turning the TV off and heading to bed early the last two evenings to read.

If you are a fan of this series, then of course you should read this book, even if you haven't been wild about the past few books. If you are new to the series, you can probably enjoy this one without reading the others, but really, why would you want to start here? Go back and start at the beginning. You won't regret it.
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