Tongues of Serpents

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A dazzling blend of military history, high-flying fantasy, and edge-of-your-seat adventure, Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels, set in an alternate Napoleonic era in which intelligent dragons have been harnessed as weapons of war, are more than just perennial bestsellers—they are a worldwide phenomenon. Now, in Tongues of Serpents, Naomi Novik is back, along with the dragon Temeraire and his rider and friend, Capt. Will Laurence.

Convicted of treason despite their heroic defense against Napoleon’s invasion of England, Temeraire and Laurence—stripped of rank and standing—have been transported to the prison colony at New South Wales in distant Australia, where, it is hoped, they cannot further corrupt the British Aerial Corps with their dangerous notions of liberty for dragons. Temeraire and Laurence carry with them three dragon eggs intended to help establish a covert in the colony and destined to be handed over to such second-rate, undesirable officers as have been willing to accept so remote an assignment—including one former acquaintance, Captain Rankin, whose cruelty once cost a dragon its life.

Nor is this the greatest difficulty that confronts the exiled dragon and rider: Instead of leaving behind all the political entanglements and corruptions of the war, Laurence and Temeraire have instead sailed into a hornet’s nest of fresh complications. For the colony at New South Wales has been thrown into turmoil after the overthrow of the military governor, one William Bligh—better known as Captain Bligh, late of HMS Bounty. Bligh wastes no time in attempting to enlist Temeraire and Laurence to restore him to office, while the upstart masters of the colony are equally determined that the new arrivals should not upset a balance of power precariously tipped in their favor.

Eager to escape this political quagmire, Laurence and Temeraire take on a mission to find a way through the forbidding Blue Mountains and into the interior of Australia. But when one of the dragon eggs is stolen from Temeraire, the surveying expedition becomes a desperate race to recover it in time—a race that leads to a shocking discovery and a dangerous new obstacle in the global war between Britain and Napoleon.

PRAISE FOR TONGUES OF SERPENTS:

“The somber sixth installment (after 2008’s Victory of Eagles) of the Napoleonic era adventures of Capt. Will Laurence and Chinese-British dragon Temeraire opens with the pair exiled to New South Wales for saving French dragons from a plague while England and France were at war. The government of the colony is hotly disputed, and both the deposed royal governor and the insurrectionists hope to ally with Laurence and his draconic companions. When a dragon egg is kidnapped, an expedition over the Blue Mountains turns into a frantic hunt for the culprits. Novik fans will be glad to see their old favorite characters growing and changing yet still very much themselves, but the lack of significant interaction with native Australian humans or dragons leaves a certain emptiness at the heart of the story, exacerbated by long stretches of travel through physical and emotional desolation.” — Publishers Weekly

“The sixth installment of Novik’s fantastic series introduces Temeraire and former captain Laurence to New South Wales. Laurence, technically a transported prisoner, is escorting three eggs to form a covert in the colony there. The eggs are destined for such second-rate officers willing to make the long trip to the remote colony, including Captain Rankin, whose cruelty killed his former dragon. On arrival, the ship is met by former governor William Bligh, deposed through mutiny by the New South Wales Corps. Bligh wants the dragons to reinstate him in his post; the mutineers are determined to retain the upper hand. Discipline is lax and quarrels are the order of the day, including those between Temeraire and Iskerria, a snobbish beast. To escape all this, Laurence and Temeraire take a mission to find a way through the Blue Mountains and explore the interior of the continent. But one of the dragon eggs is stolen, and the exploration turns into a desperate rescue mission. Temeraire fans have waited two years for this book but should find themselves richly rewarded. The characters are as riveting as ever, the setting is new but convincing, and the plot, with its first-class balancing of Laurence’s and Temeraire’s internal and external struggles, shows Novik’s continued excellence as a novelist.” — Booklist