It is no surprise, therefore, that when I read His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik in 2006, I was excited beyond belief. It’s a fantastic debut novel, filled with all the magic and wonder that a book featuring highly intelligent dragons as aerial corps during the Napoleonic era can offer. The relationship between Captain Will Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire is a great one, one that has grown stronger and more complex as the series has progressed, and it is that friendship that keeps me coming back for more Temeraire.
Since the publication of His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi has written six more Temeraire novels and her fan base has grown to epic proportions. They are in luck today. Because today, Crucible of Gold, Book #7 in the Temeraire series, is published in fine US bookstores!
Here is a bit more about it:
Naomi Novik’s beloved series returns, with Captain Will Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire once again taking to the air against the broadsides of Napoleon’s forces and the friendly—and sometimes not-so-friendly—fire of British soldiers and politicians who continue to suspect them of divided loyalties, if not outright treason.
For Laurence and Temeraire, put out to pasture in Australia, it seems their part in the war has come to an end just when they are needed most. But perhaps they are no longer alone in this opinion. Newly allied with the powerful African empire of the Tswana, the French have occupied Spain and brought revolution and bloodshed to Brazil, threatening Britain’s last desperate hope to defeat Napoleon.
And now the government that sidelined them has decided they have the best chance at negotiating a peace with the angry Tswana, who have besieged the Portuguese royal family in Rio—and thus offer to reinstate Laurence to his former rank and seniority as a captain in the Aerial Corps. Temeraire is delighted by this sudden reversal of fortune, but Laurence is by no means sanguine, knowing from experience that personal honor and duty to one’s country do not always run on parallel tracks.
Nonetheless, the pair embark for Brazil, only to meet with a string of unmitigated disasters that force them to make an unexpected landing in the hostile territory of the Incan empire, where they face new unanticipated dangers.
Now with the success of the mission balanced on a razor’s edge, and failure looking more likely by the minute, the unexpected arrival of an old enemy will tip the scales toward ruin. Yet even in the midst of disaster, opportunity may lurk—for one bold enough to grasp it.
I read Crucible of Gold about a month ago, once the final corrections had been made and the proof pages delivered. I was worried when I cracked the first page though. The previous book, Tongues of Serpents, was a very different book from the others in the series, possessing a change of scope from political intrigue and aerial battle to a questing hunt for a dragon’s egg that had been stolen. It lacked the discovered cultures of the other novels, featured a seemingly unending and mostly boring romp through the Australia interior, and left many fans wanting action that did not take place until the last two chapters of the novel.
Crucible of Gold is the opposite of Tongues of Serpents, and it is every bit as good as the previous books in the series—maybe even more so. And here’s why.
Naomi conceived of the Temeraire series as nine books, leading up to that final battle with Napoleon. Bonaparte has been consolidating his power for the first six books, putting England in the direst of circumstances, the world being slowly consumed by the French emperor in military domination. Crucible of Gold returns all of the political intrigue and action of the first five books but also begins the end game of the series, one that will put Captain Laurence and Temeraire directly against Napoleon and his Celestial dragon Lien. It is watching that end game unfold that will leave many Novik fans breathless in anticipation for the final two novels in the series.
I would know. I am one of them.
Crucible of Gold also features the Inca culture, one of the more diverse and interesting settings of the entire series. Fans will love it. The relationship between Laurence and Temeraire grows, as do the philosophical discussions about servitude, slavery, and equality. Readers will also greatly enjoy the unpredictability of the story. I didn’t see three or four events coming, forcing me to put the book down, get up, and walk around with a stupid smile on my face for the sheer genius of them.
To me, Crucible of Gold is quite possibly the strongest book in the series. If you have enjoyed the Temeraire series in the past, the new book is for you! And if you haven’t read the series yet, read His Majesty’s Dragon. You won’t be disappointed in it!