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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book that affirms the success of the First One.,
This review is from: Throne of Jade (Mass Market Paperback)It's hard to write a second novel in a series to meet all the expectations present. When a first novel rises out of nowhere, part of its allure is how it takes people by surprise and pulls them into that type of fantasy world that only rarely happens. The second novel then comes with those expectations and the unasked question is whether that first book was a fluke.
This book sealed for me that the first one was not a fluke. It also, was a very brave decision to avoid the temptation to attempt to rewrite the first book and turn it into a just a series of battles or an extension of the first book. By taking the book to a whole new continent and culture, Novik shows what it was that made the first book such a sweet discovery. The plot pales in comparison to what Novik does in researching the world of the Napoleonic era and draws in culture, morals, ethics and so much that brings the story to life. This is more than just a good story. Alert readers (and even the un-alert ones) are going to pick up some things illustrated in the conversations and scenes that show how different cultures interact and how bias and prejudice work in practice.
This is an all-around excellent book and confirmation of an excellent series.
4.0 out of 5 stars To the East,
This review is from: Throne of Jade (Mass Market Paperback)At the climax of her debut novel, Naomi Novik revealed that the dragon Temeraire was the rarest kind in the world -- a Chinese Celestial.
But the discovery of the dragon's true nature comes with some pretty nasty problems attached, as William Laurence discovers in "Throne of Jade." While this book -- which is about 75% travel-by-sea -- could have been a boring slog of traveling details, Novik instead infuses it with political and cultural clashes, a creepy conspiracy on Chinese shores, and a haughty prince determined to separate Temeraire from his rider.
With the discovery of Temeraire's breed, the haughty Prince Yongxing demands that Temeraire be returned to the Imperial family -- and the bowing-scraping-groveling diplomats are inclined to obey him. But Temeraire and Laurence are having none of that. And when they can't tempt away Temeraire, both dragon and rider are sent to China on a very large boat, along with the prince and his entourage, in hopes that they can sort out the mess.
Unfortunately it's not a boring trip for Laurence, who has to dodge assassinations, storms, and the prince's ongoing quest to lure away Temeraire away from his rider. And China turns out to be no less dangerous as Laurence learns the reason that Temeraire's egg was sent to Napoleon, and the malevolent prince's true plans -- to get power for himself, using Temeraire as a pawn.
Jewel-encrusted dragons wander through gardens, streets and palaces, Englishmen wander into the ornate lands of the East, and a silent political struggle rages with Temeraire in the center. Having explored a dragon-augmented England in her debut, Naomi Novik refocuses her attention on China in "Throne of Jade." Consider Laurence a stranger in a strange land.
Most of the story is spent on a boat, which admittedly sounds boring. But Novik's intricate writing and plot twists keeps things interesting, along with her nimble sense of humour (such as Temeraire asking where human babies come from). Lots of culture clashes between the Chinese entourage and English crew, and Laurence's constant tug-of-war with Yongxing over the naive Temeraire.
And her formal style really blossoms when they get to China, lovingly describing everything from beautiful gardens to the ghostly albino Celestial. After the slow-building journey, the plot really blossoms when the ship gets to China. The conspiracies and secrets are finally figured out, and the string of assassinations and plots climaxes with a disastrous attempt at a coup.
Laurence spends this book haunted by the possibility of being separated from Temeraire, and especially worrying about Yongxing seducing him into a culture that literally worships the Celestials. Temeraire also continues to grow, learning voraciously (and developing a taste for Chinese food) while remaining steadfastly loyal to his beloved Laurence.
And there's colourful string of supporting characters: the sneering prince and his kindly brother, the toadying diplomats, and even the Celestial relatives of Temeraire's. One of them turns out to be quite a surprise.
"Throne of Jade" is an excellent follow-up to Novik's brilliant tale of draconic warfare, and a journey across Asia is no less interesting.
4.0 out of 5 stars well done,
This review is from: Throne of Jade (Mass Market Paperback)The follow up to Naomi's first book in this triology, His Majesty's Dragon, was well worth the read.
I can't say that I was as thrilled with this book as I was with the first, since Tem. became a more whiney and a less energetic, likeable character.
The book started off a bit slow, but once the team gets where they are going, I found myself drawn right back in. China is depicted in amazing detail, and is given a wonderously magical quality.
Despite some slow and laborious character development, which left me wanting, I really enjoyed this book.
If you liked the first novel, I strongly recommend this book.
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Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (Mass Market Paperback - April 25 2006)
CDN$ 9.99 CDN$ 9.49