Throne of Jade

Naomi Novik
Throne of Jade Cover

Fun and engaging; a worthy sequel


A really neat sequel to Novik's awesome His Majesty's Dragon. Laurence and his dragon Temeraire are back, and this time they're going on a trip to China, to the land whence Temeraire came.

I was concerned at first that Novik would somehow stereotype or fetishize the Chinese. For sure, the first encounters with Chinese characters involved the blank face cliché, but I was glad to see that Ms. Novik had other ideas in store. By the end of the novel, we're treated with a China that is complex, multilayered, filled with its own heroes and villains. Not only that, but when it comes to their treatment of dragons, the Chinese are clearly superior to the British, a fact even the nationalistic Laurence begrudgingly admits. The book is peppered with great little details about China, which added to its verisimilitude: Ms. Novik gets the food right, for instance, and the little Mandarin Chinese she throws in sounded correct to me.

Everything I liked about the first novel made a return here. The relationship between Laurence and Temeraire is explored further, and we learn a lot more about Temeraire's origins. There are exciting air battles and one pulse-pounding fight near the end. All that, plus we get to see a lot more naval action and life this time around.

This series is quickly turning into one of my not-so-guilty pleasures: smart, lighthearted, fun, fast-paced, and engaging. Looking forward to Black Powder War.