Anything is better with added dragons, right? This series adds dragons to historical fiction, and it works wonderfully. Napoleon has French dragons! England has British dragons! There are dragon battles by sea and by air. It’s all pretty tremendous, and it’s anchored by dragon Temeraire and his British captain Laurence. Laurence was in the Navy, but when his ship captured a French vessel and took its dragon egg as spoils of war, he ended up with an unexpected hatchling that bonded/imprinted on him, and now the two are an unstoppable team. Their backstory was told in the first book. This is the second in the series, and concerns the Chinese Empire. China had given France Temeraire’s egg, but when he hatched, he was an unexpectedly rare and valuable breed, and now they want him back. Temeraire and Laurence don’t want to go, but rather than face starting another war, off to China they go.
This diplomatic mission leads to some surprising soul-searching and philosophizing, as China treats its dragons very differently than the British style they’re used to. Temeraire learns more about who he is and what he could be, as Laurence frets about the war against France continuing on without him. Watching Temeraire learn and grow is great, and seeing Laurence support him and work hard to overcome his preconceived notions about everything is heartening.
There are fewer battles in this book, but it still has some action. I can’t wait to see where this pair goes next.