Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik: Book Review

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Cover of Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

4 Stars

Captain Will Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire–or is it the other way around?–are in something of a bind. Temeraire was meant to be a gift from the Chinese emperor to Emperor Napoleon. The Chinese people are not happy when they find out that Temeraire is a mere captain’s pet and he’s being used to wage war on France. To resolve the issue, Laurence, Temeraire, their flight crew and a diplomatic delegation are sent on a journey to China.

This did feel a little like filler. But it was such fun filler that I didn’t really mind.

The pacing was just a little off. The whole point is supposed to be resolving this conflict, but most of the book is taken up with the journey. All of that was mostly pretty interesting, but the best part was the part that takes place in China–only the last third of the book. I would have preferred more of that.

It was really cool to read about how the dragons and people interact in China. It’s not like Britain, that’s for sure. Novik came up with this whole different dragon culture that fit in with my vague ideas of Chinese culture. All those parts were really fun to read.

Temeraire’s special fighting ability continues to crack me up. It’s not supposed to be funny, but I find the whole idea so ludicrous that it’s funny to me. Don’t ask me why I’m willing to believe that a dragon can fly around with a crew of something like 15-20 men running around on his back, but I draw the line at this. I just do. But I mostly accepted it and just read this for a good yarn.

Laurence has finally learned to loosen up. He was such an uptight stick in the mud that he wasn’t much fun in the first book. Now the airmen’s slack ways are finally working on him and he’s learning to have fun. And are there hints in this one that he might find a way to fit a woman into his life in the future? I hope so. He could turn into a book crush if a woman gets him completely out of his uptight Royal Navy ways.

I still adore Temeraire. I love the way he thinks outside the box and constantly questions things that others just accept as the status quo. He’s curious as a cat but loyal to a fault. He’s by far the best character of the book. Although I do have to say that Captain Roland and her daughter intrigue me. I wouldn’t mind a spinoff series about them.

There is one very cool battle scene that I would have liked to read more about. But there’s another one that just dragged on and on and on. I guess we’re back to that pacing thing. But I really did like the one battle.

So, this might not have been the strongest second-in-the-series book I’ve ever read, but it was still pretty good. I’ll definitely keep reading the series. If you liked the first one, I think you’ll be pretty pleased with this one too.

Reviewed April 6, 2009

Read an excerpt.

My review of the first in the series, His Majesty’s Dragon

Find author Naomi Novik on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy Throne of Jade at

Friday Flashback Reviews, a feature at The Introverted Reader

Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

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