Temeraire: Black Powder War
Temeraire (who is a dragon and a major part of the British Aerial Corps during the Napoleonic Wars) has made an extremely dangerous enemy; another dragon, who no longer has anything to lose. When Temeraire and his captain, Laurence, are recalled to Britain via Instanbul – where several precious eggs are in need of collection.
Due to transport difficulties, the party much travel overland with a guide who is half Nepalese and all too secretive. The land itself creates enormous difficulties, as do the locals – including a band of wild dragons.
When the group finally reaches Istanbul things just get worse. The eggs are there, but there has been some kind of major miscommunication and it is unclear if the eggs were ever truly intended for Britain or simply used as a lure. They are imprisoned within the palace complex, and their fate – and the fate of the eggs Britain so desperately needs – is unclear. Temeraire’s enemy has travelled ahead of them, sowing poison every step of the way.
This is a brilliant book – they all are. At this point it is sometimes hard to be sympathetic to Laurence’s superiors who are constantly screwing him around (and are, let’s face it, somewhat Imperialistic). The frustration of the characters transfers a little too well to the reader. A lot of the action and danger is indirect or physically distant, which does weaken it. But the relationship between Temeraire and Laurence continues to grow and develop (rather dangerously, because Temeraire’s ideas about society are quite sensible, but revolutionary), and it never stops being fascinating.
Rating: PG for battle violence
Free sample (as a captain, Laurence is responsible for the education of his younger crewmen):
Granby sat Roland and Dyer down to practice their penmanship by the firelight while Laurence attempted to make out their attempts at trigonometry. These, having been carried out in mid-air and with the slates subject to all the force3 of the wind, posed quite a serious challenge, but he was glad to see at least their calculations no longer produced hypotenuses shorter than the other sides of their triangles.