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Victory of Eagles

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik continues her alternate history of the Napoleonic wars in this fifth adventure featuring British Capt. William Laurence and his faithful celestial dragon, Temeraire. Picking up afterEmpire of Ivory, a disgraced Laurence has been convicted … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Naomi Novik
Publisher: Del Rey
1 review about Victory of Eagles

Solid continuation of the series -- the main characters are as intriguing as ever

  • Aug 17, 2008
Rating:
+3
Even though the preceding volume in this ongoing series ended on a cliffhanger, with Napoleon about to invade Britain, the real story here has to do with the developing relationship between Laurence and Temeraire. That's what's holding me to the story, and will keep me anticipating each new volume. The Temeraire series is light reading, but is more than merely a guilty pleasure.

Novik does a marvelous job describing the ongoing battles and intrigues -- and obviously has done a great deal of research. Little details stand out in the midst of elaborate descriptions -- I was struck by her description of a cannon ball that had been fired on the ship where Laurence was imprisoned. It was moving at a pace where the guard thought he might stop it with his foot -- but it had built up enough momentum that it ripped cleanly through his foot and a wall before ceasing to roll.

Where the book really shines, though, is in its attention to the evolution in Laurence's attitudes and response to situations -- his commitment to a sense of honor and dignity in the face of the indignities he suffers -- and in its tracing of an evolution in Temeraire's understanding of himself and of the world. Temeraire was born intelligent and able to speak -- a situation quite different from that of human beings who have to grow into reason, and for whom habituation and norms come prior to elaborate self reflection. He can't understand Laurence's peculiar sense of pride and dignity in the service of duty -- and why he would be willing to be executed for treason when he did what was obviously the just thing. What I found most intriguing in this book were the ways he tried to make sense of Laurence's values -- even as his experiences began to call for some of the same skills as Laurence.

Apart from its alternative history, the series is clearly moving in a direction where Temeraire will begin to develop an independence and autonomy from Laurence -- that is essential to his development. One of the primary reasons offered in the series why the dragons -- while sentient and intelligent -- are not free is the fact that humans have exploited the fact that they imprint so strongly to a master. If Temeraire is to live up to his promise to be a leader among dragons, he will have to find a degree of autonomy and independence in spite of this.

The series looks as though it could go on for a while -- and that's not a bad thing. I look forward to the future exploits and adventures and growth of both Laurence and Temeraire.

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