I like fantasy novels more or less, but I find them to be rather hard to review. I think that while on the one hand, I enjoy them and even respect them, I don’t always find myself with much in the way of salient topics to discuss.
So for this one, it’s more or less the case. I enjoyed it. I did take my a long time between the first in the series and this one, because I listened to that in audiobook form. And then I found that pretty much all my resources to listen to this one next were dried up. So many places I normally turn…public libraries and overdrive primarily….had books 1, 3,4,5…etc but not two. Anyway, I finally got to it.
I do really like the premise. I am a minor fan of the Aubrey/Maturin Navy books, which are clearly the primary influence here. There, like here, we are dealing with the British Royal Navy, there is the Navyman, and the non-Navy actors who find themselves enmeshed in the story.
The obvious difference is that this book has dragons.
So that’s going to really decide whether or not you like these. But this book also has its feet in the same kind of history overlaid with fantasy that something like Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver/Baroque Cycle has, and then also a book like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Novik even takes her cues from the Patrick O’Brien books in the way you learn a lot about different kinds of boats, you learn here about the different dragons.
So as you can see, I find it hard to do much more than sell you on the series rather than this particular novel. They go to China, and that’s cool because there’s lots of dragons there, and also cool because Novik does a good job not making the Chinese characters heinous villains or magical Easterners. Not that I was worried for her–she perfectly competent—but plenty of other authors can’t even manage that.