Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Black Powder War

During my lunch break today, I finished up Black Powder War, the third in Naomi Novik's "Temeraire" series. This is a solid entry in the series and, fortunately, a bit more balanced than the previous book. This novel takes the main characters from China to Turkey where they have orders to obtain 3 dragon eggs and transport them back to England. These aren't just any eggs, but a particular breed of fire breathing dragons which would ultimately give England a strategic leg up on Napolean's forces. Of course nothing is ever that easy and sure enough, multiple adventures ensue. They end up in German lands in time for the battle of Jena.

It is nice to see this series incorporating real historical events in an authentic way. Ms Novik continues to excel at building an extremely believable fantasy landscape. This is the real historical record, with the added addition of dragons. Normally, that would be pretty difficult to pull off but her dragons are so well thought out that they seemlessly interface with the "normal" society. More importantly, the story continues to excel with compelling, sympathetic characters. She shows the brutal reality of war with corresponding loss of life (and yes, some characters we know from the past do not survive this battle) and yet the novel is not at all a "war" novel. The characters, especially Lawrence and Temeraire continue to grow and mature in their thinking, and themes that began in the last book continue here. For example, the nature of how dragons are treated by different cultures, whether they should be servants or equals, is examined further.

These first three books of the series, according to Ms Novik's own blog, were held by the publisher until all were ready for publication as a way of launching the series. Consequently, many people believed them to be a trilogy. This third novel though, does little to wrap up anything but does spur interest in the next book. I am thankful for that as these books should be coming out at around one per year for quite a while to come. Already there are a total of 5 published volumes with more planned.


  1. I really enjoy this series. I haven't seen anything about the next book, but I very hopeful that there will be one!

  2. Marg, The next book in the series is "Empire of Ivory" and is already out in paperback. There is a 5th book already, "Victory of Eagles" but it is still only in hardback.



Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire