A woman of a certain age who has three cats underfoot, and has the dream of filling her passport with stamps. Books, classical music, tea, cats, movies, art, fancy needlework, and anything else I can think of.
Ever since I read His Majesty's Dragon, the first of Naomi Novik's series that blended high fantasy with the Napoleonic wars, I've been a fan. Now the series has built up to massive levels, sweeping over continents to show a world at war.
But this time, William Laurence is out of the action. While Napoleon and his legions of dragons has swept over Europe, Laurence and his dragon Temeraire are in the Far East, seeking to have the Chinese send their own armies to the West and defeat Napoleon once and for all. But a storm has separated them, and Laurence wakes up on a strange beach without any memories of his own.
As we quickly discover, Laurence is in Japan, a country that wants nothing to do with the outside world, and views strangers as fit for the edge of a sword. Laurence is in some deep trouble, but fortunately, Temeraire is able to find him and rescue him from a disasterous situation. The next stop is China, and Laurence needs to convince the Chinese that it is in their best interests to back the British, despite a few problems, such as opium and the like.
When Laurence and his friends reach Russia, Napoleon and his legions have invaded, and the outcome is certainly favouriing the French. But winter is coming, and the Russians are not about to give up...
I'll be honest. This one left me with a very average feeling about the story. The amnesia trope is rather overused here, and to see Novik restort to that is to me a rather cheap shot. Too, we get very little details about crossing Russia and Siberia from China. Not only that, everything about the story just felt -- tired. For a series that started out with quite a bang and intriguing premise, this is not a good sign.
I was hoping for more exoticism in this, what with the settings being in China and Russia, but it all came out very blandly, and without very much excitement. Napoleon's march to Moscow with the largest army ever assembled to that time, and the disasterous events that followed, make for exciting reading, and can make for some real plot to chew over. However, here the Russians are little more than barbarians, Laurence is going through constant angst over his situation, and the amnesia twist was a bit too much. Also, the Japanese section felt as though it was lifted wholesale from James Clavell's Shogun, and not nearly as interesting.
I understand that there is to be another book in the series, quite possibly the last one. Following as it does our own universe and history, I'm guessing that we'll have the Allies marching into Paris, Napoleon's first exile, and then Waterloo, or whatever the equivalent will be in this alternate history.
While I will go on to read the rest of the series, I was very disappointed by this volume. The excitement, and the thrill just wasn't there, and Novik can certainly do better than this. Only three stars for this one, and a not recommended.