Title: Throne of Jade (Temeraire, 2)
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Alternative History, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperVoyager (20 February 2009)
Captain William Laurence, formerly of His Majesty’s Navy, has had only a few months to adjust to his new life as the captain of a fighting dragon, but now he can’t imagine a life outside the British Aerial Corps and Temeraire.
But now the Chinese have demanded the return of their Celestial dragon, and the British government cannot afford to refuse them, even if it costs them the most powerful weapon in their arsenal. Laurence and Temeraire must journey to Chine, knowing that once they arrive in the exotic east, they could be seperated forever.
Rating: **** (4 stars)
THRONE OF JADE by Naomi Novik is the second book in her fantastic Temeraire series. The book continues the stories of Captain Will Laurence and the dragon Temeraire. Having settled into life with the British Aerial Corps, Captain Laurence and Temeraire’s lives are disrupted when the Chinese demand the return of their Celestial dragon. As the British government cannot afford to refuse them Temeraire and Captain Laurence are forced to journey to China to find out what future awaits them.
Having loved TEMERAIRE (review) so much I was a little apprehensive about reading the next book in the series, THRONE OF JADE. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed: THRONE OF JADE totally lived up to my expectations. It has been a while since I read TEMERAIRE, but I found it really easy to fall back into the world and I remembered the events of the world clearly enough to have an idea of what was going on. One of my favourite things about this book, and the series so far, is how Novik writes the friendship between Laurence and Temeraire. I also really enjoyed what I saw of a China where dragons were ordinary – it was really interesting to see it in contrast to how dragons are viewed in Britain.
As I mentioned in the paragraph above, one of my favourite things about this book is the friendship between Temeraire and Laurence. Temeraire is delightfully curious about the world around him, and he offers a different view point from Laurence. Laurence by contrast is a much more laidback characters, and is very much a product of his social status and the place he grew up. By setting THRONE OF JADE in China Novik took both characters out of their comfort zones and allowed us to view them on a more equal footing. Novik also does a fantastic job with the secondary characters. It was nice to see the return of some familiar faces as well as the introduction of some new ones. I would have liked to have seen more of Temeraire’s interactions with the local dragons so I could have gained more of a picture of what they were like.
The plot of the book was a little slow, but I still found the story to be immersive and very readable. A lot of THRONE OF JADE is spent aboard a ship, and I liked the fact that Novik made the plot reflect this – most of the book covers the journey down to China. Like TEMERAIRE, there are political overtones to the plot and there’s a very definite colonial feel to the narrative, which makes sense because of the alternative history setting. As I mentioned earlier, it was really interesting to see how Novik painted China in contrast to Britain, and I thought the differences in their approach to dragons was interesting.
Overall THRONE OF JADE is a brilliant addition to the Temeraire series, and if you are a fan of alternative history and like dragons then I recommend that you check the series out.