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Main page » Fiction literature » Temeraire 4 - Empire of Ivory

Temeraire 4 - Empire of Ivory


With Napoleon making far too many strides on the continent for England's liking, a new, potentially catastrophic setback has emerged. A mysterious illness, a kind of draconian bird-flu, is waylaying the dragons of the Aerial Corps. News of the epidemic must be kept top secret. If Bonaparte were to find out, he'd waste no time in sending everything he has across the Channel to finish Great Britain off. It turns out that Temeraire has an immunity, after having caught a similar infection on the trip to China in Throne of Jade. His, however, was quickly cured after a stopover in Cape Town. Hastily a ship is prepared, bound for South Africa, with Temeraire and the sickest (and most valuable) dragons and their crews on board. A lot of dogged searching reveals the cure to be a species of wild mushroom.

At this point, the other shoe drops. The mushrooms are cultivated by a heretofore unknown and alarmingly advanced African tribe that have their own dragons, a huge arsenal of captured weapons and a burning passion to avenge the slave trade with total ruthlessness. Here Novik begins to tie together thematic threads that she had begun spinning in earlier novels: Temeraire's personal awakening to the injustices of the world; the metaphoric relationship between the slave trade and the treatment of dragons in England; Laurence's own opposition to slavery, which allows Novik to indulge in some delicious political satire in early chapters, and which is also used to build tension later in the book, with Laurence and Temeraire the prisoners of a tribe whose hatred of slavery they fundamentally agree with.

But Novik is ultimately flying this story into much darker and stormier skies indeed…

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Tags: Ivory, Novik, Empire, storytelling, novels, Empire, Ivory, Temeraire