After a year of adventuring from China to the Ottoman Empire and across Europe, Laurence and Temeraire finally land upon the familiar shores of Britain.
But instead of enjoying a jubilant homecoming, they are hushed and herded to a camp far from their usual covert. Laurence soon discovers that during their time in the east, a virulent epidemic swept through the Aerial Corps and the British have lost many of their dragons. Entire formations have succumbed to the disease, and now only the appearance of an aerial defence keeps Bonaparte from invading.
Laurence and Temeraire are ordered to prepare for another long journey, this time to save the lives of their friends and British autonomy. But to do so, they must venture into the most mysterious of places, Africa.
After the disappointment of book #3, I was rather hesitant about giving "Empire of Ivory" a go, but wanted to see how the saga of Captain Laurence and Temeraire continued. In the end, I was very glad I did, as this was up to Novik's usual standard, and once again, I found myself totally hooked from beginning to end, as, once again, dragon and Captain embark on a long boat journey, only this time with the desperate task of trying to save the rest of the British empire's precious dragons- their friends. Politics, war, slavery, and stinky mushrooms all feature strongly in Naomi Novik's latest novel, and once again, she's managed to entwine history and fantasy in a way that makes for a very enjoyable read. This just even more makes me think that the reason I struggled so much with "Black Powder War" is simply due to lousy timing- trying to struggle through a rather intense, serious book (certainly not the type of books for those that love the light-hearted, "fun" style one normally expects with fantasy), while trying to move house. Not the best combo it seems!!
This still remains a series I would happily go back and reread later on, and I certainly hope there are a few more books to come! With the way it left things happening, there is definitely at least one more book on the way!
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W. Heath Robinson (1872 - 1944)