Throne of Jade - A Review

Throne of Jade
Del Ray, 432 pages

If you haven't read the first installment of this series, His Majesty's Dragon, you must read that first, as Ms. Novik doesn't spend time rehashing the first book and its characters.

Will Laurence has to give up Temeraire, his dragon (a Chinese Celestial), to the Chinese. Problem is, he won't do it.

And Temeraire? He won't have anything to do with it, either. After Temeraire escapes from where he's being held (and after attacking a blowhard from the diplomatic corps), Laurence learns that he won't have to give up Temeraire--at least, not right away. Instead, he's told he'll deliver Temeraire to the Chinese emperor, all the while having to deal with the emperor's currently out-of-favor son, Yongxing.

En route, on a specially-made ship with a dragondeck, all sorts of hell break loose, from an attack by one of the entourage (or was it an attack?), to a mini-war, all in the name of bringing back a Celestial that was originally meant for Napoleon.

The historical facts are still in this book as in the first; I'll leave it to those who are up on this period of British history as to whether or not Ms. Novik got everything down pat. For me, it seems thoroughly awash in the dress and flavor of that time; even the way this book and the prior book were written sounds as if it was part of that time period.

There are a few twists and turns in this book (especially an horrific one that ends in the death of one of the British on the ship), most I didn't see coming. There's a wrap-up at the end of the book--as to why Yongxing brought everyone to China--which sounded a bit too pat; I was left scratching my head, until I re-read it a couple of times. I'm still not sure if it makes sense, as I didn't think it was foreshadowed all that much, but that might be one of my shortcomings as a reader; of all the mysteries I've read through the years, I've yet to figure out whodunnit.

Other than that, this was a good, interesting read. I found Temeraire even more precious and believable than in the first book, and Laurence was just as good a character in this book; I could really feel the bond gel between him and Temeraire.

I've taken a temporary respite from the series, but I'll be tuning in for the 3rd installment, Black Powder War, once I finish what I'm reading now.

For once, the hype is spot on!