Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Del Rey Books (25 Sep 2007)
The fourth book in Novik's Temeraire series where huge dragons supplement the forces of the Napoleonic War, this one veers off somewhat. Following on from Black Powder War, Temeraire, Laurence and the crew arrive back in Britain with refugees from the fall of Danzig. But they are chased almost over the coast before any British dragons come to their aid. What is happening?
An illness has struck down the defending dragons, a draconic equivalent of tuberculosis. If nothing can be done, and Napoleon finds out the defence is crippled, the country will be open to invasion.
In the course of finding a cure, a new empire is discovered. Novik's history starts skewing strongly away from ours. (It's already somewhat different - in this, Admiral Nelson is the hero of Trafalgar, walking around with medals on his chest half melted by a dragons flame in that battle.) At the end, Laurence and Temeraire have to decide whether to sacrifice themselves for what they think is right.
Novik continues her themes. The evils of slavery loom larger here, but other horrors are also seen. The ending is left in doubt, and it's possible that the next volume (for the story cannot finish at the end of this book) will bring in a tortured hero.
This story also felt less episodic than its predecessor.