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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik

Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical fiction
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: May 19, 2009

Series:  Temeraire #5

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

For Britain, conditions are grim: Napoleon’s resurgent forces have breached the Channel and successfully invaded English soil. Napoleon’s prime objective is the occupation of London. Unfortunately, the dragon Temeraire has been removed from military service–and his captain, Will Laurence, has been condemned to death for treason. Separated by their own government and threatened at every turn by Napoleon’s forces, Laurence and Temeraire must struggle to find each other amid the turmoil of war. If only they can be reunited, master and dragon might rally Britain’s scattered resistance forces and take the fight to the enemy as never before–for king and country, and for their own liberty.

In the last novel, the British had contaminated Napoleon's dragons with the wasting disease, and Temeraire and Laurence recognized that this would spread to other countries and all dragons would die. Temeraire and Laurence made a choice to bring the cure to France's dragons though all of Britain would see this as betrayal and Laurence would lose everything and be branded as a traitor. Upon their return to Britain, Laurence and Temeraire were separated and have been sent to their respective fates: Temeraire to the breeding grounds and Laurence captive in a ship's brig to await his hanging.

Things do seem the lowest of the low for our two heroes. Still, with a war on, Temeraire is the most valuable dragon in their arsenal, and things don't quite pan out to the expectation. This book is where Temeraire begins to shine separate of Laurence. When he believes Laurence is dead, he wins the allegiance of the dragons at the breeding grounds and takes them to war against Napoleon, who has launched a campaign on British soil. However, the dragons are also acting without military orders. Laurence, who has only been called to duty since the war needs Temeraire, must act as Temeraire's representative (once reunited) for the canny dragon has made himself a commander, with dragons and militia under his orders. Temeraire begins to grasp the chain of command and the hurdles resulting while also confronting the outcomes, bringing a better understanding of what Laurence has done for him in choosing treason to make the moral choice. Finally, with Temeraire's military rise, he uses this newfound power to command respect from the men and bargain for dragon rights, though we have not yet fully seen how this will play out.

Laurence, too, has his own inner battle, finding he readily accepts martial consequences of his actions for himself but not for many others it has affected. This is a subtle conflict, and Laurence chooses safeguards to prevent this from occurring again under his command by withholding their true orders from the other captains and crew. This obedience to orders to save his companions further complicates matters, though, as their orders goes against his moral code. And after everything Laurence has suffered, we finally see this take a noticeable toll on him through Temeraire's observation.

 Despite the separation and chaos of this novel, I really enjoyed the character development and the opportunities for Temeraire to both lead and learn, mostly without Laurence's guidance or influence. I still like Laurence, and with him so miserable, it would be nice to see him afforded a bit of happiness soon. I don't see how this is likely with them headed to Australia, but I guess I will have to keep reading!

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.


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