Throne of Jade - Naomi Novik

Throne of Jade  - Naomi Novik

Throne of Jade, the sequel to Temeraire, continues the first book's awesomeness in a big way. The Chinese, angered that the British government have been using Temeraire, a rare Celestial dragon gifted to France and stolen from the French, in dishonourable battle, have demanded his return. Laurence and Temeraire sail to China together to try and negotiate their fate.


It's another subtle, careful piece of writing, full of politics and touchingly drawn personal relationships. There are themes of slavery and culture clash and respect for intelligence; I loved the complexity of politics at the Chinese court, and the double bind that the British find themselves in: lose Temeraire, their best dragon, or lose the favour of the Chinese? There's no real "right answer" evident, and all relationships in this book are strained, even that of Laurence and Temeraire, as Temeraire sees the comfort and respect accorded to dragons in China while at home dragons are pariahs. The attractions of being treated like an equal begin to drag him away from Laurence - as do, admittedly, the attractions of Mei, a lady dragon. (Though, to be fair, Laurence does regularly roll into bed with lady aviator Jane Roland, so I can't feel too sorry for him.)


The tensions on board ship on the long journey south are also admirably rendered: with the Chinese Prince Yongxing aboard, the British sailors are uneasy, and Laurence's aviator crew encounters friction with the sailors too. Also, there are sea serpents! And battles! And Temeraire continues, as ever, to be adorable.


Throne of Jade was a great book: suspenseful, historically authentic (apart from the dragons, obviously), thoughtful, touching. I love this series, and I can't wait to read the next one.