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Crucible of Gold: Spoiler Fan Discussion

Hey everyone!

As you know already, Crucible of Gold has been published in the US. The new Temeraire book has only been on bookstore shelves one day but people have already finished it—and want to talk about it!

We don’t have a Forum set up on this website yet, one of the things I have hopes to do this Spring. In the meantime, we do need a place to talk about the new book, so I thought we’d hold discussion in the comments section of this thread.

For those of you who have not read the book, DO NOT click on this post as you will likely be significantly spoiled by its contents. You have been warned! Ha!

Now let’s get to talking about Crucible!

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By Shawn Speakman

When he isn't lying for a living, Shawn Speakman maintains the web presences for Terry Brooks and Naomi Novik, runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press, and writes his own SF&F. Follow him on Facebook and @shawnspeakman.

76 replies on “Crucible of Gold: Spoiler Fan Discussion”

What do y’all think has been happening with Tharkay over this book? He wasn’t mentioned at all! Is he still off being a pirate? I was surprised that Laurence and Temeraire didn’t try to let him know they were leaving.

Wow, I raced through the book and I dont’ know where to start – it’s simply great. Terrific. Fantastic. There are so many things happening, both good and bad and of course, surprising as well, that I can’t say what I loved most. At least I’m pretty sure I have to go back to the other books and reread every scene that has both Granby and Little in it ;)
I just noticed that the Temeraire books made me into some kind of history geek because I tend to look up all these events – so I won’t be caught wondering if something happened for real or only in the books. I mean this in a good way since I’ve alyways liked history and naturally, history is one of the reasons I picked up the books at all.
Well, for now I’ll only say that Crucible of Gold is a truly enjoyable book (that I’m probably going to reread many times) which provides every fan of the series with a fresh dose of that fascinating mix of napoleonic wars, aerial and naval life+warfare, and, last but not least, dragons. Oh, and politics. And geography. And characters who feel so fleshed out, so real that they might really be alive in a parallel universe somewhere.

(And please excuse my English, it’s not my native tongue)

Just tore through Crucible of Gold in a pretty epic 4-hour reading session! I think that I really loved it…but there’s so much to think about, and now I’m so busy thinking about what happened in the plot line, I can’t spare the time to think about how good it was! Anyways, the plot was very exciting and fast paced, again the same great characters (I’m going to have to reread previous books to focus on Granby and Riley), and a very interesting setting. So overall, yet another wonderful Temeraire novel :)

I can’t wait for my library to get a copy of the book on tape, I will greatly look forward to listening to the story unfold again and really mull over the plot as I drive in the car.

Great job! Kudos on a very fine novel!

I think Tharkay is off doing something Very Important and have my fingers crossed that he comes back into play when everyone gets to China!

Fab book, I would have loved it if there could have been just a little bit more: did any of the sailors in boats make landfall? How far does the truce with the Tswana extend? And there was something else that I wanted to know — clearly need a reread! I get carried away the first time through wanting to see what will happen.

The revelation of Granby’s sexuality was a really nice touch and makes sense with several of the things that have come earlier. I loved the way that he and Laurence were trying to have a delicate conversation on the mechanics of his possible marriage — you could practically see the blushing on the page.

Having Iskierka negotiate for them was such a surprise, and she was not as wholly ridiculous as she has been in the past. Is this her growing up, or trying to impress Temeraire, or just playing a long game? And does anyone else think that some of her sickness was an egg fertilising?

I’m really anxious about what happens next. The idea that they might not be able to direct the transport as makes sense for the war effort has me gnawing nails, which I have to stop as it will be at least a year! ARGH! But I am so excited about going back to China and the possibility of Laurence finally having a little luck.

Yes that was my thought exactly about Iskierka’s sickness! I love the whole story with her and Temraires relationship and totally laughed out loud about his jelousy when she was hanging out with Mailia. I really hope Naomi continues that story line/romance. It will be interesting to see where it goes if they do have a baby and it could breathe both the devine wind and fire, totally badass!

I knew it was Granby, I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT. And I kind of suspected about Gong Su, too.

I have this mental image of their reunion with Tharkay:

“So what happened to you?”
“Well, I was reinstated, and John escaped a horrific fate– oh, and he lost an arm, too.”

(Except of course Laurence would never make a joke like that…)

My unorganized thoughts:

-I liked VoE a lot because of Temeraire’s pov and the English dragons. But I felt sad for Laurence and how he was, I thought, in depression. By end of ToS, he realized he was tired o f the war. So with Crucible, he is more outspoken immediately about following his sense of right.

-I LOVE LOVE GRANBY SO MUCH. He was more in the spotlight even if it was Laurence’s pov and so Laurence (and Temeraire) isn’t always the one in the thick of things. I love how Granby stood up to Iskierka! Finally!

-I would have rather it was Chenery or even Warren. We know of them and Dulcia and Nitidus’s personalities. Little is the least known of Temeraire’s formation and never stood out, even in Empire of Ivory. Not sure I remember Immortalis ever speak.
(As much as I love how Laurence still thinks highly of Granby, he seemed too brush it off too quickly. He mentions the “crime” “common and ignored” in the Navy, but that’s not quite true.)

-I kept thinking Ferris would express some blame, but he didn’t.

-The way the Inca dragons valued humans and how they… ahem, acquired them. Churki’s focus on Hammond was so entertaining!

-I’m glad we see Temeraire’s old formation! Hopefully more of them in next book.

So…. When’s the next book coming out?

…Just kidding…

Poor Granby. First he confesses being homosexual, then he loses his arm. What was wrong with his arm anyways? I thought it was just dislocated… Glad he finally stood up to Iskierka. I’m sure her sickness will be explained in the next book, this was just too brief, it must be foreshadowing. Glad she’s finally maturing. I also would have prefered that it not be Little, just because so little is known about him, pun intended. Glad Ferris was brought back too. Throughout the whole book I kept hoping that Riley would appear and say “gotcha!”… But then I remembered all the people who have died in the series (Digby!) and realized that he probably was gone for good… Sad day. Love that the next book is in China! Super excited!

I’m not so sure. It’s a fundamental part of dragons that they lay eggs that can mostly handle themselves, instead of carrying a babe for 9 months and then nursing it while it’s young and helpless.
I mean, thanks to that difference we have dragons not worrying much about promiscuity or monogamity, and even equality between the sexes (particularly when it comes to fighting) since the mothers require much less protecting.
So, it would be a bit strange for that of all things to be the same between humans and dragons. But I’m not educated on the subject… can any other animals get morning sickness?

I didn’t say all things are the same when it comes to biology between humans and dragons. I’m simply saying that Iskierka got sick directly after her dalliance with Temeraire. That seems a bit odd, especially when none of the other dragons came down with illness. So why Iskierka?

You certainly didn’t, it’s merely as I said at the end of my post that it would be odd for that one thing to be the same.
As for why her, well, she was badly wounded in a jungle environment. I’d have been more surprised if she didn’t get sick.

She got sick because they were in the jungle. Their emune systems are not used to the pathogins found in the amazon jungle. And I found the revalation of Granby’s sexuality completely unesasary.
Just randomly in the middle of the book, “guess what, he’s gay!” …
“why?”

Perhaps it was because I rushed through the book, but I found the sheer amount of things that happened in this book made it kind of awkward and forced. We basically skimmed through 2 “new” civilizations in a single book and are on our way to another one. Anyone else think we might visit N. America next book? It seems logical to cross through N. America if they mean to cross to China over the Bering Strait. And I bet we’ll find Tharkray in China being awesome.

That said, I love what she did with all the secondary characters! Granby!! Churki! And I’m glad Ferris is back, since Fellows and Riley are dead we’re running low on consistent secondary characters. Don’t remember saying much though, but I don’t remember him as being a very vocal character. I miss Jane though, don’t think there was even a letter from her this book. I was interested in the Harcourt-Riley dynamic, so nice to see some of that even if Riley is dead now. I’m going to miss him too.
I found both Lawrence and Temeraire kind of flat in this book, particularly Lawrence. I guess since he’s mostly accepted his fate there’s less of his hilarious awkwardness. Not much character development in Kuilingle either, he’s either hungry or being overly protective of Demane.

Favorite line of the book was when Granby was talking about twiddling his thumbs – thumb. I want a picture of him with his hook. Between him and Iskierka they’re probably one of the most flashy (ridiculous?) looking pairs.

Also hoping we can get some more info about the state of the war in Europe, I’m having some trouble matching timelines since everything that happened in this book has no real counterpart in the actual war. I think they mentioned fighting in Spain, but that’s not particularly descriptive. I’m curious now what they’ll do with Napoleon at the end of the war; with Lien around, sticking him on an island isn’t going to be very effective. But then what about Waterloo?

I think I’m going to have to reread book a ton of times to appreciate everything. I’m really impressed with how every civilization has a distinctively different relationship with dragons, and how realistic that is to their “true” culture.

Love it! Don’t have a physical copy yet, had to get a digital one. I’m guessing being an invert means gay? Love it, and I love how Laurence doesn’t change his opinion of him because of it. Loving how Iskierka wins the battle and gets her desired mate in the end- Temeraire. Can’t wait for book 8!

I liked it. I though it was better in tone than Vof E or T of S. Maybe because Temeraire and company were doing something important. Yes, I like how Ms. Naomi introduced Granby’s “problem” and even how Laurence handled it. I remember watching a special on TV about the Age of Sail-type books. The commentator (Prince Edward) noted that such practices were punishable on first offense by flogging and possible later by hanging. So Laurence’s “Ah, I see” reaction was in keeping with a man who has been changing his views on many social practices.

He’s just a cook, an itty, bitty cook – and a special agent for the throne. Oh, how the plot thickens. There are so many missing scenes in his story. Was he hoping to use Lady Allendale as a source of information to find Temeraire? What else is he doing in the West?

Lastly, we have Mrs. Pembrook. I know she doesn’t do much in the book but then why is our author letting her come to Chine? If they go to China? Will she take up with someone as they travel? Hammond? or someone else – in a green uniform perhaps? Between Mrs. Pembrook and Lady Allendale will the women of the Corp start to enter into polite company in the Social Circles of this alternate universe?

I am glad to see that the story is moving again and not just slogging through the moral morass of the last two books. I know some of that was necessary, and she really needed to do it to have our two characters grow, but it was like watching you family fight.

So bring in on! To Africa, China and maybe the North America! Let’s get our hero’s going to organized to an alliance and beat Napoleon!!!!

I don’t think Riley is really dead. Maybe I’ve been reading too much George R.R. Martin lately but at this point I don’t believe anyone is dead unless you “see” (read about) them explicitly expiring. Or maybe I’m just hoping Riley’s not dead.
I thought this was a terrific book — one of my favorites so far. Especially the Inca dragons believing the humans to be their possessions; amusing but also thought-provoking. And the battle scenes were excellently done, too. Or maybe I should say action scenes, since I include the fire and sinking of the dragon transport.
When does the next one come out?

I think that Riley might not be gone, since there weren’t enough details to convince me that he actually went down with the ship. I started to like Riley mostly because of his marriage with an aviator. I bet Riley never would have though that he would be married to a woman who spent her life with a dragon

I really loved this book. So much happened that I think it made up for how little happened in the last book. I’ve lost track of the timeline for the series now, though. What year/years does this take place during?

I love how the war is spreading across the whole globe. I’m betting the series will end with North America (what better place for a man who’s grown to detest the workings of Britain’s government?), though it would be cool to see it sooner. As I’m not sure what year we’re in currently, I can’t say for sure, but I know sometime during this period in real history, the US shut it’s ports to Britain and France because they were tired of the way their ships were being treated by both countries….so not sure they would go there on their way to China.

I love seeing all the new dragons, and I know that was one of the things I missed in the last book…bunyips just aren’t the same as getting to see new dragon species. Speaking of bunyips, I was expecting to see something similair (but bigger?) after Temeraire runs into the first Incan dragon, who says something about how he though they were something else, and Temeraire comments that he got the impression that other creature was something that came from the ground…yet we never hear anything further about this creature, which I thought a bit odd. I can’t wait to see fanart for the new dragon species start rolling in :D . The incans sounded awesome.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next book…will they make it to China? Will that be the only place they go? Will Kulingile (probably not spelled right, I know) ever reach his full size?! Will Iskierka lay any eggs? I could see a few possibilities here. Maybe Lien was telling the truth, and Celestials can’t breed with other dragons besides Imperials. Or maybe the sickness that hit Iskierka wasn’t “morning sickness”, but a legitimate illness that could very easily have taken out any eggs she may have been brewing.

OH! I do have one complaint! Did anyone else notice the strangely misplaced censoring? I forget what page it was on, but it totally threw me off and took me out of the story for a good 5 minutes. At some point Iskierka makes a comment along the lines of “I damned well am not staying here”..only instead of just spelling out “damned”, the book prints it as “d___d”. WTF? First of all, is that really the first time a character ever said “damned” before?! I don’t recall ever seeing anything “bleeped” out prior to this…but “damned” seems like a word I’ve seen before. Secondly, “damned” has barely been considered a curse word since the Simpsons first started using it in bulk…it seemed really silly to bleep the one use of the word out like that. This is, after all, an Adult book. I could understand bleeping out F-bombs or something …particularly if this were a teen or juvie title…but bleeping “damned” in an adult book? No thanks!

I loved the self-censure of the bleep! I thought it gave the prose a classier, more intelligent voice, like Jane Austen and the writer’s of that period. I love her use of words as much as anything else in the stories. Plenipotentiary! I understood context, but still had to look it up! I’m glad she is particular.

See, but it didn’t even feel like an in-character sort of self censure….I’m rereading His Majesty’s Dragon, and they’ve already said “damned” at least once…and for that to be the ONLY instance of it in the whole series to be bleeped just seems sooo weird. (Particularly as it was Iskierka talking…) I dunno…I just hope it was just a fluke and wont’ be popping up anymore.

Oh no! Riley is dead? I can’t believe it. Please, please resurrect him. Somehow.
That excluded, I think the book was more than satisfying. I felt a little cheated at the end, though – we’ve been watching Iskierka fighting for Temeraire’s egg forever, he finally yields and ha! there is a battle coming! No egg on the horizon. I seem to remember that Celestials only mate with Celestials, though. Still, I doubt Chinese ever tried to mate a Celestial with a Kazilik and who knows, Temeraire and Iskierka might just produce the dragon with a fire breath and the divine wind who will defeat Napoleon.
I can’t wait to see Maximus and Lily in China. I already feel it’s gonna be hilarious. And Granby finally stood up to Iskierka, I can’t believe it. Laurence was too accommodating too quickly as to Granby’s sexuality but the scene itself was wonderful
Keep writing, Ms Novik, and I’ll keep reading.

She was badly injured an in a tropical environemnt (perfect place for diseases). I don’t think that a dragon grows this weak when producing eggs.

We’ve never actually gone through a dragon having an egg in this series, and maybe the fact that two very different breeds are mixing she is feeling a bit poorly.
It’s never been mentioned how long there is between the coupling and the actual laying of the egg has there?

Aside from that, I’m so glad that Granby finally laid the smack down on Iskierka, I was getting tired of her running rough shod over him and everyone else.

I can’t say that this is my favorite book so far, but that could be because I was so excited to finally have a new Temeraire book that I need to relax and re read it again.

I’m already jonesing for the next book(s)

um i feel compelled to point out that pregnant reptiles do not go through morning sickness. they may go through a time where they stop eating but this due to the lack of room to put the food due to the developing eggs.

Yes, but dragons are hardly normal reptiles now, are they? We’ve already seen that they’re warm-blooded, not cold-blooded like other reptiles, so who knows what other differences there are. Just a thought. I also wondered if Iskierka getting sick had anything to do with an egg.

Oh and I love the camaraderie between the three dragons. I loved how the two males defended the injured Iskierka. I think Kulingile will fit with the formation just fine.

What I love about this series is that things change, just like in real life. People die, lose arms, disappear from our lives as the reader…. because that’s how life works. We have to know how wrenching it is for Laurence to have lost everything, so we lose beloved characters for books at a time. It’s all the realism of Game of Thrones, but without the droning on and on about minor characters.

Personally I loved ToS, I don’t know why people thought it was dull. I’m still reeling from my first frantic reading of CoG, I just restarted it (after a prolonged fight with my Kindle, might I add).

Naomi, come to DragonCon! I am cosplaying Temeraire this year. I have my wings cut out and ready for framing.

Well, first of all I loved the book. So, everything I say that might sound critical is just not meant in a bad way. ;) It was a great read overall!

I liked how in the beginning Laurence has made up his mind to go his own way and not be anybodys tool any longer. I do expect that his resolve will be put to test more than once in the future, but hey, it wouldn`t be Laurence without self-doubt.

I also kind of liked it that the Allegiance sunk and Riley died. He wasn`t a bad guy, I liked him. But I felt (in the last books, too) that his relationship with Lawrence was kind of stuck and the periods on board of Allegiance were repetetive in the way the were always clashing but not coming to any resolution. I prefer an intresting death that brings the story forward to this situation.

I loved the relationship the incan dragons have towards their humans. It is very much in keeping with the posessive nature and the hoarding impulses of the dragons. No wonder that Temeraire was so fond of taking over that idea! I can well imagine him becoming even more possessive about his crew in the next books. After all it is a topic he fussed about before, how his crew members are always taken away from him and he has no full crew.

It was good to have Ferris back. I was fairly certain that he would not blame Laurence for what happened to him. He just did not leave that impression on me. It would have been nice to see a bit more of him! I hope he will be taken back into service – another old-hand crew member besides of Emily would be great.

Not sure yet what I think of the relationship of Demane and Emily, will have to see more of that.

What I found a bit disappointing was Granbys confession to Laurence about his sexual orientation. From Granbys side I think it was handeled well, he acted believeable to me. But Laurence… it sounded like it was not such a big deal. So far Laurence used to get himself worked up about lesser things in the moral and ethics department ( a governess for Emily? Now, after all they have been through?) And this he just swallows “Oh, I`m sorry.”? I DO think it was a rather big deal at that time, former navy captain or not. Ok, it is fantasy, but still, I don`t think the reaction was very in character for Laurence from the way he was portrayed so far. I would have expected to be more shocked and conflicted about it… but the author knows best.
I so look forward to all the fanfiction…

Napoleon himself with Lien rushing in at exactly the right time… no, sorry. Didn`t work for me at all. He left europe for how long I total for that diplomatic mission?

What I liked very much was how Granby stood up to Iskierka. Finally! It was so overdue. I have waited for that… forever. Frankly, she is not my favourite character. I hope she can develope a more now, maybe mature a bit. So far I mostly thought her annoying and always hoped she might get to feel the effect of her stupid actions really painful some time. Could have been more drastic this time, too. Granby was injured badly, but it wasn`t really because of her, he could have been hurt in any battle and the basic injury he got onboard the Allergiance had nothing to do with her at all. I would have liked it better if it would have been clearly her fault and hers alone that her captain suffered.

The final solution with the Portugese giving in to the Tswana (more or less) and the Tswana very friendly towards Temeraire & Co so sudden felt a bit rushed for me. I would rather have had less shipwrecked adventures and matchmaking and more interaction with the Tswana.

I also think they will travel to North America next. If they want to cross over the Bering strait that`s the logical way. I`m looking forward at how both the native americans and the colonialists interact with the dragons there!

Then on to China, also cool. Hope they can meet up with Tharkay there. And then maybe some mission to czarist Russia on the way back to England? That`s a country I would love to see.

Sorry about akward grammar here and there, english is not my first language.

I agree with everything you wrote, both pro and con. Napoleon and Lien’s arrival seemed too contrived, and, the lack of interaction between Temeraire and Lien was utterly disappointing. They have been mortal enemies from afar for so long and now here they are within talking distance and … nothing? Nothing! Just a hug and a handshake and a how’s the weather from Napoleon to Laurence. I also feel the ending was very rushed, the whole book in fact. I would have preferred to spend more time on the mainland than marooned on a rock in the ocean. I did not see the same level of character development of the new characters as we have in some past books. The Incan queen was one dimensional, on a hunt for a husband – I was excited to hear mention of a female leader and anticipated probably more than I should have from that. The now Incan dragons had more personality than the people. We got a lot more of Hammond in this book but I would have liked quite a bit more of the governess – there are so few female characters in the series, and it would be cool to have someone non-military non-political around to give an alternative societal viewpoint on things that happen.

I was startled but pleased by Granby’s coming out. And the nuances of being an aviator and needing an heir to take over one’s dragon. It is about damned time he stood up to Iskierka so bravo to that. And an egg! Of Temeraire’s with Iskierka! I hope it is the cutest baby dragon in the world with all of his brains and all of her fire. I would like to see Emily Roland get a lot more page time in her own rights and not as one of Laurence’s charges, she is growing up an interesting combination of her mother and Laurence. I join the voices hoping Tharkay comes back. And I really, really, really hope Riley is not really dead. If I don’t see a body floating by I can still hold on to hope. Gon Su’s revelation was wonderful – when he killed the sailor to protect Laurence I cheered out loud. I am so excited for them to go back to China. It dawned on me as they were speaking with the Tswana that there was really noplace left in the world to help Britain escape the Emperor’s rule, and then I realized there are two Emperors still and one of them likely to turn a greedy eye toward the other’s giant swath of the planet when he’s finished adding the rest of Earth to his domain. China as the last hope. Interesting and timely.

Overall a great read, had a much faster pace than ToS, which was nice.

When it comes to Temeraire, and Iskierka, I was hoping she would give us an egg in the end, but sadly we will have to wait a year for that hopefully.

Also, maybe we will get to see a conflict arise when Iskierka arrives in China with Temeraire, and has the opportunity of meeting Lung Qin Mei!

Oh my gosh that would be fabulous, I want a totally akward scene between Mei, Temeriare and Iskierka. Like the two femals fighting over him or some epic show down, I’d route for Iskierka. Can you imagine the look on Temraire, Laurance and Granby’s faces if Iskierka and Mei just whent at eachothers throats over Temraire?!

Finished! I’ve been waiting frantically for my Nook replacement to arrive so I could get the ebook, so I was contenting myself with reading the first fifty pages over and over. But it came yesterday, so I got the digital copy and stayed up till loooong past my bedtime reading.

First thoughts: Loved it. I like dragons, I like Regency England, and I like reading books with a British “voice” so to speak. It’s fun! The awesomeness of dragons makes the Napoleonic Wars just rock, and it makes me remember things in history so much easier when there’s dragons to relate it to. I remember overhearing a conversation once and the word Trafalgar came up — my mind jumped right to the Flecha-del-Fuego setting the sails of the HMS Victory on fire. Dragons make everything better!

Secondly… poor Granby! It’s starting to get to the point where you wonder what won’t happen to him. He’s been shot, he’s been buried upside down in an avalanche, he’s been thrown off a dragon in midair, he’s had a baby Kazilik try to use him as a pin cushion — and now he’s gone and lost an arm? Poor man! He’s always been one of my favorite characters in the series, he’s just so huggable for some reason. But it’s good on him for finally standing up to Iskierka. She’s put him through so much, he just needed to put his foot down for once.

And poor boy, the awkwardness of revealing his sexuality was just … classic. I could almost, almost almost see him blushing while reading, and I have to admit, I was pretty amused at thinking that all the Laurence/Granby shippers would at least get some satisfaction that they were at least half right. XD

I enjoyed reading the book. Now I am sad because the next one won’t be out for a while, but I suppose that gives me the chance to go and re-read them all over again.

Have to agree with the fun of reading “British voices”. There are a few odd words that do keep cropping up in books. My favorite so far is sybaritic. Thank goodness for Kindle’s instant dictionary :) I also love Grandy calling Iskierka a “thrice-damned dragon”.

Naomi – congrats on a wonderful new book. Hopefully you are able to get lots of writing in between naps, feeding, changing, etc. I’m eager for the next book (of course).

I agree with others that there seemed to be a few missing scenes, but altogether it was a great read. If I was going to expand the next book, I would suggest a few additional scenes that seem to be missing, perhaps along the following:

Something related to Demane being African and Emily being European. Surely even among the aviators that can’t be common.

Something where Lawrence and/or crew are concerned about wages… they haven’t seemed to have gotten paid in some time. Wouldn’t they need to be in a British port for that?

It has been a long time since Lawrence has given Temeraire a gift of any kind. Given how much he likes bling, you would think Lawrence would be on the lookout for the odd bangle here or there.

Lien has really had limited character development, so perhaps a little more about what she wants to achieve in working with Napoleon would be nice. As would a little show of Napoleons temper.

Ferris, Forthing, etc. all so to have a fairly close relationship with Temeraire as well as Lawrence. Have they ever asked him about the best way to get an egg, raise a dragon, or impress Lawrence/Temeraire?

Did Sir Issac Newton have a theory about dragons? What role do dragons play in the scientific revolution?

How does Temeraire feel about forced conscription? Would he be less likely to attack the French if he felt the soliders were conscripted? Perhaps if they were not shooting at him…

Anyone else get the feeling that the Forthing Ferris dilemma means more than it appears. I can’t help but think that it’s setting up to be a conflict massively exacerbated by the opportunity to harness the hypothetical Temeraire/Iskierka egg.

Crucible of Gold is probably the second best of the books, though Empire of Ivory still tops the list :). I finished it last friday and I absolutely love it!
I miss Tharkay though, I hope he’ll turn up in the next book.

The Allegiance sinking was kind of a shock, after all the voyages they’ve made with her. I mourn Riley a bit too, and at first I kept thinking he’d turn up alive and well later on :).

I wonder, is the dragon on the cover Genevieve? It looks a bit like a fleur-de-nuit.

It’s nice that they’re going back to China, but I miss Jane Roland and Excidium, as well as the dragons from Pen Y Fan. I hope we might see them in book 9.

I loved Granby’s revelation, even though it took me a while to figure out what he meant with saying he was an “invert” :).

I wonder what Laurence will do in the future books. He said imself that he wouldn’t follow any orders that didn’t agree with his on conscience, so can he really go back to being an ordinary officer in the corps? But I suppose he won’t be confronted with this descision until they return to England.

It also pains me a little that they leave their valley and the half-finished pavilion (though of course it wouldn’t have been very interesting if they stayed there for the rest of the series). Perhaps they will return in the future?

I liked the reunion with the rest of the formation, I’e missed them too. It would be great if all of them came along to China!

Finishing a fantastic book is always a nasty experience, even when you know there are going to be other books in the series. I can hardly wait for book 8, though at the same time I dread coming one book closer to the end… :)

I loved the book. The first book and Black Powder War are my favorites. I have to re-read CoG, because I often skipped sentences to get to what was happening next!
I love her writing style. She doesn’t dumb down her vocabulary for mass following. I am disappointed in her bowing to political correctness in a couple areas and the way she handled them was very modern and not historical.
There was a special on Napoleon I watched not long ago. He did divorce Josephine because she was too common(and unfaithful) to his ever increasing ego. He decided he needed to marry another royal person to cement his dynasty and increase his treasury and political position. So I had an idea which way this was going to go, but is was so funny watching Granby twist in the wind.
It also, for me, underscored how lonely Lawrence is. He has Temeraire, but I think he needs another human being to love him and kick his butt out of his guilt trips.
I hate that Temeraire gave in to Izzy’s nagging. I don’t like her and fail to see how the Divine Wind with fire in it would be a benefit to Temeraire’s descendants. It would be the equivalent of an atomic bomb and they would be feared far more than ever revered. Especially if they had their dams personality and brains rather than their sire.

Bravo! I’ve been happily anxious to pour through this release, and am already excited to find where you take the story next.
As a queer fan, I have to applaud your handling of Granby’s outing. Lawrence is a great hero, and is not willing to bend to orders that unfairly treat women, people of color, interracial relationships, and now his close friend and squadmate being “an Invert”, he takes it in stride and does his best to support and defend the honor and respect of *everyone* who earns it. In this year of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell being history, this is a great nod to the LGBT military of history who served in the closet, and their quiet and honorable allies.
I do wish more detail were spent on the Incan dragons, their fascinating lineage and diversity (And the Feathers!), and the abruptness of Napoleon and Lien’s arrival made that scene feel a touch cartooney, but my goodness did I love the overall book, thank you so much. <3

Are the Prussians still under parole not fighting against Napoleon? I can’t remember reading something about their state of war – well historically they played some big part in the war and since Naomi has mentioned Jena/Auerstedt in book 3 so maybe they are starting to recover.
I will wait and see if they are able to take part in some Battle of Nations (Leipzig) or if we will see an entirely different battle of nations due to the current state of war.
I quite like the idea of Naomi combining historical facts and fiction and eager to know how it is going on.
Sorry for any mistakes occurring in this text, I’m not a native speaker.

I see everyone’s looking forward to a Temeraire/Iskeirka egg, but didn’t Qian tell Lawrence in Throne of Jade that Celestials can only breed with Imperials? Is so, our favorite fire-breather is going to have a canniption fit when she meets a certain blue Imperial lady dragon.

I would have liked more about Napoleon and Lien’s arrival and interactions with Laurence and Temeraire, but I really enjoyed the book, and look forwards for the 8th. I can’t wait to see Lily, Maximus,… in China, and I wonder how it will go with Iskierka and Mei, too.

Also, I wonder about the previous, brief incident at the north of Austrailia, in the port, how the Chinese will react to this, will Yongxing’s followers come back and will Napoleon try and use that and the two main characters’ exile,… too much questions :P

*Australia*
Sorry for double-post… another idea popped in my mind… considering there are two more books to come, it might be possible that, going from South America to China through Bering Strait, the group might also have a visit in Japan… maybe… there are palaces in Japan too. I am not sure if it would be realistic for them to go here but I’d personally like the idea to see how dragons fit between shoguns and samurais, and japanese culture in general :P

Where in the world is Tensing Tharkay?

I got about half-way through the book when I realized Tharkay wasn’t going to be showing up and I actually had to put the book down to go rant for half and hour because we got Hammond instead. Hammond is awesome in his own right, after all they went through in China, but he’s no Tharkay. But you all know Tharkay, he’ll show up exactly when you need him and not a moment sooner.

I loved, loved, loved Ambassador Laurence. Telling it like it is! Bewildering Hammond, amusing Lethabo, and offending the Prince Regent all in one week! Look at him go! And his speech to the Inca was pretty awesome, too.

Called gay!Granby. Loved how Iskeirka dealt with it as well. Not quite sure how I feel about Laurence’s reaction. He’s really come into his own, I feel. There’s not so much dependance on social niceties (the reason he’s telling so many monarchs what they ought to be doing without any of Hammond’s waffling), and I’m sure he had to deal with that before coming up through the ranks in the Navy.

He already knew about it, he probably even knew people who were gay on his own ships. (You have to think of his little formation, too. A Turkish, Chinese, and hybrid dragon. A dis-serviced airman. A young woman rising through the ranks romantically pursued by an young African captain. It’s not as much of a stretch for him at this point!).

I was a little surprised that it wasn’t more awkward, since Laurence is perpetually bumbling like that, but I really admired the way he handled the situation when Little showed up.

Hook-Granby is also an amusing thought. His sense of humor came through really well here. Twiddling thumb indeed.

The censoring thing caught me off-guard as well, especially after all of the nasty comments thrown at Laurence in the last book.

Overall, I give it a solid A. The pacing did feel a little rushed at times, but then the gang was rushing to Brazil as well.

This was my 3rd favorite book in the series (HMD the 1st and BPwW the 2nd). There are some flows in it, though: the lack of interaction between Lien and Temeraire when they met before the Sapa Inca, for instance. But, as a brazilian (which explains my poor english, and I apologise for it), I’m of course disappointed with the little importance my country has in the book. The number one country of the world in biodiversity has only a few small dragons (and imported from Mexico?!). That doesn’t make sense, with all due respect. I was hoping Laurence, Temeraire and his friends could have more adventures in Rio… :-/

I will out myself as not being a fan of Iskierka, so I hope that this was just a one night stand between her and Temeraire.
After all there is still Mei in China (although I still have some doubts about her sincerity).
Also I don’t like how everyone seems to get dragons now. I looks a bit contrived to me.

Anyway, great book. I love reading about new cultures in Temeraire. And I am so happy the the formation is back together. The next book will be awesome.

This series has never had a problem in letting you get emotionally invested in the characters and I’m really loving how all the character arcs are playing out.

Gong Su totally surprised me , but looking back, he was never just a cook.

Roland is probably my favorite character right now. I like how she just can’t deal with society after years of constant fighting and watching all of her friends die violently…seriously, Laurence’s midwingmen have the life expectancy of fruit flies :(

I think this is my third favorite book in the series, after Throne and Victory.

Whither the Mysterious Vanishing Miss Hershelm?

Why introduce a character by name at a farewell dinner party, describe her as barely capable of uttering a syllable and incapable of lifting her eyes from her dinner plate, inexplicably vanish her, and say absolutely nothing further about her?

Why introduce such a character at all? Bad editing, a misplaced story thread? Why not instead use the sentences wasted on Miss Hershelm to add depth to the rather one-dimensional Sapa Inca?

Notwithstanding the queries above, I thought it was an excellent book.

This was a great book, a very entertaining reading and it seems to be building up for something bigger and better. Even so, it is not without flaws. In my opinion it felt rushed many times, missed too many scenes, and many situations were resolved too easily, leaving a taste of lazy writing. I don’t think there is a reason to keep a book story short like in the movies, and actually, the more the merrier in both.

Points I loved (not in order):
-the sinking of the Allegiance: I didn’t expect that and it was a wonderful twist
-Granby’s homosexuality and his confession
-the Incan dragons and their relations with the humans
-Laurence’s decision of not being a tool anymore
-007 Gong Su! Didn’t see it coming and loved it

Points I didn’t like (not in order):
-Napoleon’s arrival with Lien felt just like an “easy way out” of the marriage situation and their timing was really over the top. How could have they managed it considering the continental distances?
– The complete lack of interaction between Lien and Temeraire
-Laurence’s acceptance of Granby’s homosexuality was too fast and too easy given the historical time, especially because it was considered a crime; now, I understand that Laurence is very open minded for his time, but even so he accepted it with too much naturality.
-In the same way, Granby’s acceptance of losing an arm was too natural and fast, especially for an aviator.
-The lack of interaction between Laurence/Granby and their old friends (the captains from the old formation): Given the time of their absence, Laurence’s condemnation and prison time and Granby’s missing an arm(!) you think they would have more to say to each other.
-The african dragons and humans accepted everything too easily, and Temeraire, being so possessive and protective of Laurence, forgave the african dragons too easily for kidnapping and torturing him. I thought that dragons on this universe were more stuborn than that.

And I agree completely with Lucas’ post above. I’m brazilian too and the lack of species in our country was really frustating. Actually, it makes no sense when you think of it, because Granby said to Laurence that the Incan’s have a great variety of dragon species, but that biodiversity just vanishes when they cross the Andes? Dragons have wings and are really large creatures, so I imagine that the only thing barring their movements are the great oceans, if much (if in real life small birds and butterflies can cross the globe, so can some dragons in fantasy).

From the posts I’ve read above it seems I share my opinions with others. Well, I apologise for my poor english and the long post.

Well, Brazil didn’t appear to have any dragons of their own – they had to call for reinforcements from Mexico – and any they did have would have been European breeds brought with the colonists. Either the native South American dragons never lived in areas colonised by Europeans, or they all shifted to inside the Incan Empire’s borders when the colonists arrived – after all, the colonists wouldn’t see them as sentient, and they’d attack them.

I really like the China by way of the US (and Russia!) idea – I figured that every book but 2 has been centered around one continent/major country (2 was China, 3 was Europe, 4 Africa, 6 Australia, 7 South America) with 1, 5, and probably 9 reserved for England…so a trip to North America doesn’t seem at all out of line.

And now I’m curious why the comments are covered with Brazilians apologizing for their excellent English. Few of my native-speaking high school students write as well as Cindy and Lucas Corso.

Just finished the book and, of course, want more. I tend to agree with the high points – Gong Su, Granby standing up for himself (twice over!), Laurence showing more confidence in himself. I have to say, it usually bothers me greatly when historical characters take modern views of such things as gender, race, and sexuality, but I don’t think Laurence is actually being that anachronistic – the book clearly implies that Laurence knew several homosexuals in the Navy. Actually knowing people makes it harder to stereotype them – combined with Laurence’s general distancing from social norms and sense of egalitarianism, I think it’s perfectly fair for him to feel merely extremely awkward about a respected friend’s revelation. So, contrary to several comments, I think this was done pretty well. Especially given how quickly he took aviator sexual mores in stride in HMD!

I also suspect that Laurence may be more concerned about young Roland now that she is, presumably, more noticeably female. The fact that her honor and personal safety are threatened in Sydney is likely another thing that makes him concerned – I like how he compares it to making sure the young male officers act sensibly. It’s hard for him, poor man, to figure out the line between “innocence needs guarding” and none.

Anyone else notice Hammond’s liking of coca leaves? Anyone else concerned that he may develop an addiction? (Seven cups of tea in the first day!) I have no idea how coca works in reality, but in a story its connection with cocaine makes me nervous for Hammond’s well-being.

i loved the book!it was kind of short though i tried to read it slower but it ended up going quicker.the thought of a temeraire/iskierka egg raises so many problems.lets say a an egg is made but the hatch ling is a fail and dies but the Chinese probably never tried to breed a celestial with another species, the species being their greatest creation.also I don’t believe mei and iskierka will have much conflict as mei doesn’t seem very loyal at her lack to help temeraire against lien and there doesn’t seem to be much love between temeraire and iskierka .maybe it will develope and going back to china and leaving the war behind doesn’t seem much good either.i never want this series to end EVER!!!!!

Despite hearing in belgium that I had to wait some months for the book, I am happy ebooks exist!! I must say I really loved it. The australian trip was a little too long for me, but here the imagination has gone wild. China & GB vs Napoleon, tswana & Inca. Wonder what hammond will try to force there ;0) Can’t wait too see what’s coming. Tharkay’s comeback with hordes of trained wild dragons, 2 beautifull big eggs from temeraire and iskierka and a little less depresive Laurence. Oops, now my imagination is going wild, thanks Naomi

Argh, I just noticed a line where Temeraire remarks “his uncle” is the current Emperor’s Celestial dragon, which completely messes up the family tree as we thought we knew it. Apparently it’s eight Celestials making up four or five generations, and yet the evidence we have makes it look like it’s only three; “Grandfather (Xian?)” for the first generation, Temeraire, Chuan & Lien for the last generation, and the others (Qian, Chu, Ming & Zhi) for a second generation!

First of all, let me thank you for writing such a fantastic series.

Here are a couple things I noticed (please excuse my harsh choice of words; I’m trying to make this as brief as possible):

1. Temeraire does not seem to mature at a fast enough pace. He is still clinging to unrealistic ideals. He has always tried to break unnecessary conventions (especially social in nature), but by now (in my opinion) he should have developed a better understanding, not just of military tactics, but politics as well. I would like to see him try to think of clever (and realistic) options to solve a specific problem instead of coming up with justifications to his and his companions’ immature behavior.

2.a) Conversations, especially between Laurence and Temeraire, are way too rare and short. They are usually only told with one or two directly quoted sentences, then summarized in one of the participant’s thoughts. I would really like to see more arguments actually carried out verbally. Since the story is about Temeraire and Laurence and they are supposed to be very close, I would very much like to see the two of them actually devise a political or tactical plan and then only quickly discuss it with the rest of the team.
2.b) Instead Laurence is constantly hatching plans with everyone else (especially Hammond and/or Granby) and Temeraire and the other dragons have to be convinced of it. I thought the dragons by now have been recognized as creatures that have their own opinions (especially in this circle of individuals) and have a military rank as well. That’s what Book 5 was all about.
Sure, occasionally one of the dragons does not what is asked of them. The problem here lies in the way it is handled. The dragon’s only argument is “I don’t want to”. Then everyone treats the dragon like a child and tries to coax him/her into doing what is asked of them. I would like to see the dragons get over their anxiety for the safety of their captains and try to focus on the big picture, once; have a real discussion with pros and cons.

3. Some of the problems addressed during the adventure were dismissed too easily later in the story. First there is the chaperon for Emily. She did have some small use to the story later on, but generally she was just there to please Laurence’s sense of propriety. Nothing too wrong with that, but she felt like baggage at some point. At the same time the supposed relationship that might have been developing between Emily and Demane was just dropped and nothing ever heard from again.
Then there are the unruly sailors. There has been quite a focus on them. Yet, as soon as the company makes any progress through the Inca realm, they are not aggressive or even complaining any more. Just because one (maybe two) important mutineers are gone? Not that I actually wanted to read more about them, but they were silenced too easily. Maybe they should not have been advertised as such a big problem in the first place or dealt with in a harsher manner earlier.

4. Temeraire and Iskierka. I must admit that I have not been the biggest fan of Iskierka – not at all. She was quite annoying with her stupid actions and Granby’s inaction. However, once Granby and Laurence had their talk about the intentions behind Iskierka’s actions (to impress Temeraire), I have begun to actually like her more. I don’t exactly know why, but somehow this behavior makes her seem clumsily cute instead of simply destructive. It puts her closer to the stereotype of unsocial warrior and away from menacing lunatic.
Now, I know that dragons differentiate between a relationship and having eggs, and I don’t expect the two of them to “fall in love”, but I would very much like to see them grow closer and more affectionate towards each other, maybe even protective; that is, if Iskierka becomes a little more responsible (at least when it matters) and with that actually impresses Temeraire.
On that note, I would have expected the two of them to disappear occasionally (even if only mentioned briefly) after that first time. Maybe Laurence and Granby would wonder why always after dinner only their two dragons were suddenly out of sight. I don’t think the actual biology behind the copulation of dragons has ever been clarified in the books, but I would suspect that they would have to try more than once to increase the chances of success (especially since Temeraire wants to make sure that he can actually sire children on non-Imperial dragons).
In any case, the story didn’t allow for any more pleasure after that first time, sadly. Curious inquiry: do dragons feel pleasure/lust when “making eggs”? ;) I hope that’s not too inappropriate to ask.

5. As mentioned before by others, the ending felt rushed. The battle was over quite quickly. Everything went as planned. The injuries to the dragons didn’t matter at all.
Also, I didn’t quite understand the whole purpose behind taking over the dragon transports, except to hurt the French. What was the deal they made with the African dragons? To take some of them back to Africa? I thought the French promised to do the same thing. Only now the British did it to strengthen their alliance with the Africans?
Gong Su being on a secret mission was very unexpected, accepted too quickly, and explained too little. Apparently everyone of the characters thought that it just made sense. It felt like a plot device (to bring them on a course to China) that had just not been hinted at enough. Not that I dislike the twist itself, just it’s exposition.

And that’s the sentiment I have for the whole book. I like the general direction Naomi Novik took and enjoyed seeing the overarching plot progress. However, to me it seemed like too many unimportant bits and pieces were focused on and quite a lot of the stuff that I find entertaining (i.e . character development and interaction of/between many of our beloved characters, and how they solve problems) was cut short.

I know a lot of this seems overly critic. I’m just trying to help by expressing some of my thoughts. :D

about the ending to your #4, in real life dogs cats etc. do so why not dragons? Also in B.P.W., tem. does something that suggests yes, im not going to say what, but I am going to say it is somewhere towards the front of the book.

I was sad about Riley, too, partly because I hoped he and Harcourt might eventually develop a nicer relationship. At least one of more mutual respect, if not love. I could see where Harcourt was coming from, but at times she was so cold, treating Riley like some inconvenient leach she couldn’t get off her leg. Not a nice attitude toward the father of your child.

Not sure what to say that hasn’t already been said, so just gonna say I loved this book and hopes Naomi doesn’t take too long for the next one. :)

Hi Naomi!

Just finished CoG. Fantastic story!

Such a shame that Riley’s probably dead–it is possible that he may have survived and simply been overlooked before Lawrence & Co had to depart, but even if that were the case, the chances of anyone on those boats ever being rescued are pretty much remote to none :( Although some of the earlier comments about there being a lack of reconciliation between Lawrence & Riley does have merit–it would’ve made the loss all that more dramatic & devastating had there been some re-warming of their friendship. Still, you’ve really did a great job writing about the unfairness of fortunes that come from war, that all too frequently, un-expectantly & tragically, good men die while virtual criminals live.

Simply awesome how you wrote about Granby having to deal with the marriage plots concocted by both Hammond & Iskierka. And just how Iskierka outted Granby’s “partner” (no need for too many spoilers) was an absolute hoot! Had me rolling!!

I hope there is some interaction that took place between Temeraire & Lien that simply got cut out of the story…with luck, we’ll see it in one of your short stories. Looking forward to reading the next book (curious if there’s a thread for suggested book titles–“Scales of Silk” would sound nice :D )

Please don’t keep us waiting so long for the next in the series. Also, I’m very anxious to seeing Temeraire on the big screen. But now that Gong Su’s been “outted” too, perhaps Peter Jackson should consider Steven Seagal for the roll ;)

Thank you, Naomi! Please be sure to pass our love to Temeraire & the Gang!

I absolutely loved Churki and think that her’s and Hammond’s storyline will be very amusing to read about! I actually thought that the Incan dragons was portrayed beautifully. I’m very interested in the Incan culture and Naomi captured it very well with the feathered creatures, but the only thing I’m wondering about (since English isn’t my native language and Naomi uses rather difficult language) is if the feather that I fell in love with is part of the dragon or just used as ornament. I believe that the first is the correct since they “ruffles them up” from time to time, but if someone would like to clarify that for me that would be awesome!

And at first I felt disappointed with Granby’s storyline just because I’ve had a crush on him ever since he first got on Laurence’s nerves :P But it’s all well. I think that Iskierka kind of destroyed him for me a little bit since I’ve never really liked her :3

And I want something to happen between Roland and Demane! Although I like Novik taking a stand against “teen-age love” and make relations at their age more real!

And last but not least I must say that I was scared to death when I came to the last chapter of the book because I thought it was the last! I was just scared that this would be the end to an era, and a bad end at that!

I’m a true temeraire fan and I’ve been so since I was about 11 and picked his majestys dragon from a dusty old book shelf at my school library!

Still dreaming about Dragons being true!
Josefin