At long last, we reach the end of the “Temeraire” series. Hot dang, it’s been 9 books… where would our heroes travel? how would they encounter Napoleon? would Laurence have complicated feelings about women in the military? would Temeraire rake his giant claws into the ground in distress over something? where would they settle down for retirement? all these questions had to be answered, and more!
It’s no secret that I’ve adored this series, even though it became deeply repetitive and predictable. And in a surprising twist, this was the least repetitive and predictable of the last several books in the series. Which is actually kind of a hit and a miss. In some ways, delightful, because I never had the ol’ internal groan over any regularly repeated sentiments, but in other ways, disappointing, because, you know, “one last tiiiiiiiiime.” But if a person’s going to complain, they’ll find something to complain about, and I love me some Temeraire, so I’m not going to complain.
I was, however, ready to be done with the series. I’ve been out of discoveries, and was becoming progressively more offended by the various characterizations of the “ethnic” dragons. This was all about conclusion of plot for me, and, I think, for Novik as well. Laurence and Temeraire are the Forrest Gump of the Napoleonic Wars, as I like to say, and they got to see it through to the end, and we along with them.
But this was a little bit perfunctory in a lot of ways, just wrapping things up. Over time, Lien has become a less scary villain (remember the super terrifying poem she wrote on the gate out of China? what happened to that Lien?), and Napoleon a less alarming adversary. Novik wrapped up the war and the subplots pretty handily, and landed the plane without any major turbulence.
The conclusion is comforting and comfortable, and most of all believable. Which, for historical fiction with added big-ass dragons, is a mission well-accomplished.