I was extremely happy to receive a galley copy of this book to review because I’ve been a fan of Naomi Novik’s “Temeraire” series since the very beginning.
I enjoyed the previous book, “Crucible of Gold”, but I found the pace to be slower than usual and it felt a lot like a bridging novel between the events in Australia and our heroes’ return to the Napoleonic wars. “The Blood of Tyrants” on the other hand starts out relatively slowly but ramps up swiftly and ends at a fever pitch with a sort of cliffhanger that will have me waiting eagerly for the next book.
There are moments of genuine tension as Laurence and Temeraire end up in some sticky situations and new plot threads are developed over the course of the story which I hope shall satisfactorily pay off in the next couple of books.
The cast of characters – human and dragon alike – is likeable and it’s interesting to watch them dealing with the problems they face. There are some new faces in this one and also the return of some we haven’t seen for a few novels.
I love the way Ms Novik explores the prevailing morality of the time through the eyes of a dragon, giving a fresh perspective on things.
I’m always leery of the plot device of amnesia but it’s used very effectively in the course of this story. Rather than being used as an obstacle to be overcome or an impediment to the story it is treated with a bit more sophistication, allowing the afflicted character to hold up a mirror to his past actions and reflect on them without it feeling artificial.
In some ways this would be a good novel to jump in on the series. Because of its structure a lack of knowledge about previous events in the series should not pose too much difficulty in following the story.
For fans of the Temeraire series this book is going to be a delight, with the book being very much up to snuff. For others you could do worse than start your adventures with Temeraire here.