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Tongues of Serpents: A Novel of Temeraire [Mass Market Paperback]

Naomi Novik
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 7 2011 Temeraire (Book 6)

Convicted of treason despite their heroic defense against Napoleon’s invasion of England, Temeraire and Capt. Will Laurence have been transported to a prison colony in distant Australia—and into a hornet’s nest of fresh complications. The colony is in turmoil after the overthrow of military governor William Bligh—aka Captain Bligh, late of HMS Bounty. And when Bligh tries to enlist them in his bid to regain office, the dragon and his captain are caught in the middle of a political power struggle. Their only chance to escape the fray is accepting a mission to blaze a route through the forbidding Blue Mountains and into the interior of Australia. But the theft of a precious dragon egg turns their expedition into a desperate recovery operation—leading to a shocking discovery and a dangerous new complication in the global war between Britain and Napoleon.

Frequently Bought Together

Tongues of Serpents: A Novel of Temeraire + Victory of Eagles + Crucible of Gold
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Product Description


“A joy to read.”—The Star-Ledger

“I’m more excited about [Naomi] Novik’s series than I ever have been. . . . Tongues of Serpents might just be the best.”—Clay Kallam, Contra Costa Times

Praise for the novels of Temeraire
“Completely involving and probably addictive.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Enthralling reading."—Time

“Gripping adventure.”—Entertainment Weekly

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 husband and six computers.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A letdown. . . July 31 2010
By Patrick St-Denis TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Given the fact that after reading Victory of Eagles I felt that the series appeared to be losing a little steam, I was curious to see if this sixth installment in the Temeraire series would be a return to form. The books are becoming formulaic and episodic in style and tone, and I for one was hoping for a throwback to the first four volumes.

And though my expectations were not that high based on its predecessor, it saddens me to report that Tongues of Serpents was a lackluster effort leaving a lot to be desired. After revitalizing the genre with such originality, Naomi Novik's latest work does very little to further the plot of the main story arc.

Here's the blurb:

A dazzling blend of military history, high-flying fantasy, and edge-of-your-seat adventure, Naomi Novik's Temeraire novels, set in an alternate Napoleonic era in which intelligent dragons have been harnessed as weapons of war, are more than just perennial bestsellers--they are a worldwide phenomenon. Now, in Tongues of Serpents, Naomi Novik is back, along with the dragon Temeraire and his rider and friend, Capt. Will Laurence.

Convicted of treason despite their heroic defense against Napoleon's invasion of England, Temeraire and Laurence--stripped of rank and standing--have been transported to the prison colony at New South Wales in distant Australia, where, it is hoped, they cannot further corrupt the British Aerial Corps with their dangerous notions of liberty for dragons.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Delightful reading. I wish there was a fourth book titled: The Valley's Delights and Tribulations. Thank you and let us look forward yet.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Temeraire down under April 30 2011
When we last left William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire, they had been exiled to Australia. And "Tongues of Serpents" picks up with their arrival -- which turns out to be a lot more exciting than you'd think. Naomi Novik's sixth novel starts off slowly with lots of dragging around Sydney, but picks up into a grimy, sweaty, surprising adventure Down Unda.

Laurence and Temeraire arrive in Australia, along with a trio of dragon eggs and a shipload of convicts. They soon discover that Sydney isn't a very pleasant place to live, particularly for dragons -- there aren't enough cattle to eat, so they're forced to eat kangaroo. To make matters worse, Rankin (BOO!) arrives just in time for one of the eggs to hatch, and he and his bratty new dragon accompany our heroes on a long trek across Australia.

But the trip turns out to be an unpleasant one -- storms, food and water shortages, injuries, oblivious natives, a crippled baby dragon, internal friction and monstrous bunyips intent on eating whatever they can find. Then the Yellow Reaper egg is stolen by smugglers who are whisking it across Australia, and the exhausted Temeraire and Co. set out on a long journey to retrieve it -- with a surprising destination.

I was a little apprehensive about "Tongues of Serpents," since it would take place far from England, China, the Napoleonic wars, and the dragons we had come to know and love. Fortunately, Novik keeps some familiar elements in the story -- there are dollops of England and China in the Australian wilderness, and some news of the war's developments does get woven into the story.

Yes, this is ANOTHER book where most of the story is spent traveling from Point A to Point Z -- in this case, across Australia.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete and Disappointing..... Aug. 20 2010
I loved reading the Temeraine series and was thrilled to find this book and looked forward to the enjoyment of reading it. What a bitter disappointment it has turned out to be, I feel cheated by having paid money to buy it in hardcover.

There appears to be no discernible plot to the book and the reader is left feeling as though the last half of the book is missing. The book is disjointed and reads as though it was thrown together from scraps of plot lines that fail to materialize. I am left feeling insulted that Naomi Novik and her publishing house feel so little regard for those of us who read the series that they would publish something that is so incredibly unfinished and substandard.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lackluster installment for the Temeraire series July 31 2010
By Eric W. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'll spare you the summary of the book in this review and just get down to brass tacks. I'm a fan of the series (some books a little more than others) and love its premise, but was highly disappointed in this installment. This was especially upsetting coming off of the excitement and trial of Victory of Eagles. Tongue of Serpents had virtually no action, with an extremely dry, drawn-out, and boring (approximately 200 pages) chase across the Australian outback. For the first time in the series, I started skimming whole pages just to get to something interesting. Even the characters lacked substance and interest (including the new dragons).

There seemed to be sparks of plot development that could have been followed to make the story more engaging (e.g., the possible Letter of Marque and privateering for Laurence and Temeraire; engaging with Jia Zhen for opening greater trade in the port of Larrakia with China; developing some kind of relationship with the sea serpents; or even allowing Laurence to work some of his aggression out on Rankin). Unfortunately, this book seemed to be a calculated attempt to extend the series and set conditions for further installments. While a shrewd marketing plan, after waiting more than a year and a half for this book, I felt cheated as a fan. I'm also getting a little tired of how meek Laurence has become after being such a force to be reckoned with in earlier books.

If you're a fan of the series, you'll probably want to suffer through the book just so you feel complete for the next installment. But I urge you to wait for it to come out in paperback or at least get it from your local library to save the wholly unjustified $25 hardcover price.

I expect the next book to be better and truly hope that Laurence and Temeraire start displaying and engaging in acts of a little more action and excitement. I just wish I didn't have to wait another year and half for something that should have been present in this book.
152 of 169 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Series unfortunately seems to be in decline July 13 2010
By T. S. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Unfortunately, this series seems to be in a bit of a decline, at least for me as a reader.

I read fantasy voraciously, and I'm normally a huge fan of fiction (historical and otherwise) set in this era, from Jane Austen to Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels, etc.

The first novel in this series, His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1), I really enjoyed and respected -- it managed to mix fantasy elements with the historical setting in a way seemed believable and real. The most difficult thing to do in historical fiction, and especially in cross-genre historical fiction/fantasy, is to make the novel "come to life" *in the historical setting* ( a trick that only a rare few other authors have managed), to make the book read like an authentic period account.

The problem, as this series has continued, is that the character's actions have lost their ground -- I no longer feel like I'm reading a story with characters who were alive in the 18th and 19th centuries. I feel like I'm reading a story that has a bunch of modern characters in fancy dress. The moral decisions the characters make are based on modern values and modern frameworks, not period ones; the political concerns that appear to drive these later novels ( "what if dragons had meant there wasn't any imperialism or colonialism?")are concerns that almost continually force the reminder that the books are written by a modern author.

This latest volume continues that trend. The human characters just don't seem to act in a way that comes across as a realistic representation of british officers from that era -- they come across instead (the lead human character especially) as a modern individual in a period uniform. By this point in the series -- transported to Australia and finding themselves at odds with even those there as well -- he's coming very close to rejecting the worldview and value-system of his entire society, in a way that just isn't realistically believable, at least to this reader.

If that lack of period voice doesn't bother you, though, you might find this book entertaining enough. Be prepared for a plot that's a fair bit "girlier" (for lack of a better term) than the earlier novels -- the dragons seem to spend a much greater amount of time worrying about what they and their handlers are wearing, for example, than actually getting into battles of any kind, and most of the drama and tension in the novel involves a lost dragon egg. But if the above concerns aren't a problem for you, and you liked the last few books, you might find it worth reading this one as well, just to continue the story.

EDIT: After thinking about this for a while -- I really did *want* to like this book -- I think a large part of my dissatisfaction might be due to this series having made a subtle genre shift, from "historical fiction" to "alternate history" (if that distinction makes sense). The first few books were set in, and bound by, and "real" within the context of, a specific historical era (Regency/Napoleonic). By this point in the series, however, things have veered so far away from that setting -- not just in terms of historical events, but also in terms of the primary character's own mental landscapes -- that, for me at least, that sense of "reality" and believability has been lost. This may be my own personal flaw as a reader, and it may seem a silly criticism to level against a book with, you know, Dragons in, but whatever the cause, this series just isn't as enjoyable for me as it was initially. If you're more a fan of alternate history than I am, you might like this.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tongue of Serpents July 27 2010
By D. Robey - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a HUGE fan of this series, but am SO disappointed in this novel. It was actually boring. I was ready for the characters to interact with foreign dragons and native people. There was little of both. The story seemed to just plod along and at the end, I wondered where the rest of the book was. The characters in this book are great, but I found most of the story boring. There didn't seem to be a lot of meat to the book. I still hold out hopes for the next book, but now the long wait starts again.....
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too, too short with an abrupt ending July 30 2010
By R. Jones - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Before purchasing, I should have noted that the book is only 288 pages. This isn't a book, it's a novella at best. That said, for what it is, it's fine. There just isn't a book in there anywhere. The ending just drops into the middle of a paragraph and blam, it's done. Very disappointing read--it meandered around and got nowhere, and just when I thought it was getting somewhere, it ended without warning. Not at all what I have come to expect from the Temeraire series. It took only about 4 hours to read, very unsatisfying for the money.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where's the rest? July 26 2010
By J. Roberts - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love this series but this book fails miserably on it's own. Some people say it is setting up for future books in the series but I think it is a long winded begining to the next book. One person commented that it could be summed up in one paragraph, likewise I think it could be the first chaper of the real book. It sets up story lines and characters and monsters and dragons, but nothing comes from meeting them and it just sort of ends it what seems to be the build up to something good.

Honestly it seems to me the author couldn't meet her deadline so took what she had, add some more flying and eating, and said here publish this!

I still look forward to the next one but wish they had saved this for the intro to the next, guess they just want my money.
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