The historical society featured in the latest installment of the fantastic “Temeraire” series is the Inca. Their dragons feature brilliant, feather-like plumage, and a completely new take on human-dragon society. The human population has been decimated by disease, so human companions are worth far more than the abundant gold. Still more interestingly, dragons are considered the owners of their men – a neat reversal of British convention. Temeraire, already somewhat of a revolutionary for dragon rights since his trip to China, is getting even more dangerous ideas.
By now Laurence and Temeraire are considered fundamentally intractable, so the representative of the British Empire who asks them to form an allegiance with the Inca phrases it somewhat more as a favour than an order. It is a sad irony, when Laurence was loyal to the British Empire beyond reason at the beginning of the series. Temeraire is most definitely a bad influence, but one that readers heartily approve. The new, badass Laurence makes a lot more sense to modern readers.
The latest imagining of human-dragon society is fascinating, and the relationships between humans and dragons even more so. I really enjoyed the book for those reasons – although I still feel we need Napoleon to be far more evil in order to care about the many difficulties of the British Empire.
Rating: PG for battle violence.
Free sample (when the British Ambassador to China has just arrived in Australia, exhausted):
%%He lifted [his face] out [of the water] dripping and rolled over onto his back, gasping, for once wholly aware of his body and grateful beyond measure for warmth and sated thirst, and then a pair of clawed, scaled limbs lunged flashing out from the bushes, seized upon [his] pile of bundling, and dragged it out of sight: he had only a glimpse of a saw-toothed maw and glittering black eyes, and then all vanished.
Hammond stared, and then leapt to his feet: his legs wavered and shook, and he fled in a shambling stumbling run, shuddering away from every branch and leaf which trembled in the wind. Horror gave him strength, and the hissed disappointment behind him showed the mistake had been discovered.%%