Let’s be real: Temeraire is the Forrest Gump of dragons. He goes everywhere, just when the action where he happens to be is most important. World history hinges on his behavior. He meets all the famous people and gets to be on a first name basis with all of them. And we get to go with him and see the entire world. THE ENTIRE WORLD!
This time, we get on a dragon transport and travel with Will Laurence and Temeraire to Australia. Having had a whole bunch of martial success in knocking Napolean back a few steps in the previous book, now, in Book 5, Laurence has had his death sentence commuted, and he’s sent to Australia to start new dragon breeding grounds, as a civilian out of the military service. Of course! No complaints from me, even though I know eventually they’ll be called back into service, because what is a hero other than someone who has to answer the call?
But meanwhile, they bring some dragon eggs and some friends to Australia, and adventure ensues. As with their travels across Asia and Africa, I absolutely loved the descriptions of their travels across this new continent. The foreign serepentine creatures – in this case, sea serpents and bunyips – are fabulously interesting, and the adventures are fun, just scary and tense enough, and super satisfying, if vaguely annoyingly easy to cheer for.
International politics and war are mostly hinted at as a background layer this time around, Australia being so far away, physically, from everything going on with Napoleon and the slave trade. But you know, just as you know that Laurence will be “back” soon, that this is just a break from that business.