Thursday, January 26, 2017

League of Dragons (Temeraire 9) by Naomi Novik

League of Dragons is the final book in the Temeraire series. After a travel-adventure around the world in the first eight books we see the series finally winding down. A global League of Dragons is in the offing; will Napoleon be its ultimate master or will the dragons develop something more egalitarian and human-friendly?
“But I have this to armor me against Napoleon’s most pleasant aims,” Laurence said, “that all he does has ever been for his own selfish vainglory. He wishes to be loved by the dragons of France not for their sake but for his. He has had no hesitation in spilling their blood, and the blood of his soldiers, to make himself a perfect tyrant, bestriding the world unopposed. He cannot suffer an equal—and so he cannot be suffered. His means, his immediate acts, may be noble; his ends are less so, and he has shown himself insensible to the wreck and horror of war.”
There is a need to paint Napoleon as the self-serving bad guy since England and Russia's views on dragon sentience and independence are at odds with our hero's (Laurence and Temeraire) views. Novik loosely parallels the events of the Napoleonic wars, including Napoleon's capture and exile.

The status of European and English dragons are addressed within the context of the political realities defined by the cultures involved.
The Bellerophon was visible out on the horizon, with Lien a little awkwardly disposed on the deck, a heavy band of chain marring the clean white line of her neck. They were making sail. Jane shook her head. “I shan’t give ha’pence for the chance, though. I dare say that beast could make shore from St. Helena in a day and a night if she put herself to the trouble, and it is sure enough he will find some excuse.”
This is the last book in the series and it seems like a good place to stop. As a fantasy series that roughly relates the events of the era of the Napoleonic wars, we've reached the natural conclusion. The series concentrated more on plot and world building than story, but I suppose the story of the dragons could roughly be the story of the end of slavery and the rise of middle class. Mostly it was some fun adventure with talking dragons. A fun read. I like to think of it as the British TV series Sharpe... with dragons.

Finished January 4, 2017