Throne Of Jade (Temaraire #2) (Naomi Novik)

I have an inability to walk into a library to return a book without walking out with at least two more books wedged into my handbag. It’s become a standing joke in my family.  I’ve been looking for the Temeraire series for ages, but it’s always been out on loan, and I’ve not wanted to reserve. As it is, I read the first on kindle, and then, by some stroke of luck, book two was on the shelf! Having loved the first book so much, I was expecting quite a bit from Throne of Jade

Title: Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2)
Author: Naomi Novik
Published: 2006
Pages: 398
Format: Paperback (library) 

There is this really annoying thing on Goodreads where I can’t work out how to remove “read” dates – one of my books for my 2018 challenge has recorded itself twice and I don’t want it to continue messing up my details. Does anyone know how to edit the read dates? 

*As this is the second book in the series, there will be spoilers for Temeraire. My review for the first book is here!*

At the end of Temeraire, the Great British armed forces (dragons included) have successfully defeated Napoleon’s bid to cross the channel and found out that young dragon Temeraire is not an Imperial dragon, as previously thought, but one of the Super Rare Chinese Celestials. Draaaammmmaaa. The Chinese want their royal dragon back, but they do not want Captain Will Laurence. Temeraire, on the other hand, couldn’t care two figs that a Chinese prince has come to return him to China, he is just annoyed they’re keeping Laurence away from him. In the end, they both go to China, with their Aerial crew. 

The bulk of the book is the crossing from Britain to China, with extreme weather, conspiracies, ghosts and lots of bad will between the navy and the aerial crew, and all the British ganged up against the Chinese. There is a temper tantrum or two, and a battle in the first few chapters, then its lots of stuff happening on the ship of the crossing – then when they get to Peking it’s seeing how dragons are treated in another country (very differently). Then, it’s a bit like the novel goes from a sedate walk to a sprint and the last few chapters are bam bam bam! Then it just feels like it ends. Just like that. 

In some respects, it is great. I enjoyed seeing how the dragons are treated in China – but it takes at least two thirds of the novel to get that far – and the middle is slow. If I look at the number of pages they are actually on board the ship being ferried from England to China, it is about a third of the book but it feels like it takes up a huge amount of the book. While they are on ship, things happen but it still feels quite … slow? Laboured? I’m not sure. It was all one big conspiracy if you ask me. 

I missed some of the characters introduced in the first book – Jane Roland is there in the background (Laurence writes her and Harcourt letters several times) and Temeraire’s group of dragons and captains are there in the start, and then they turn up again – I did miss Laurence’s relationship with them a little, and the introduction of Hammond didn’t quite fill the gap. 

My absolute favourite part of the book is quite early into the narrative: 

“I do not care if they do not like me,” he said. “Maybe then they will let me alone, and I will not have to stay in China.” The thought visibly struck him, and his head came up with sudden enthusiasm. “If I were very offensive, do you suppose they would go away now?” he asked. “Laurence, what would be particularly insulting”

Temeraire – Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

I enjoyed the way that the different treatments of dragons were introduced, and I guess that will be the point of the series as they apparently have no plan of staying in China… But, in general,  didn’t enjoy the second book as much as the first, and I am trying to work out whether I should go to the library and get the third. I’m less inclined than I was and here are at least six books in the series…

I was really excited that I was at 77 books for the year on Goodreads – until I realised there were duplicates, so if you have any advice as to how to delete “read” dates, please comment!

Bea

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