League of Dragons
League of Dragons heralds the end of Novik’s stunning Temeraire series. Laurence and Temeraire, along with their crew and a host of Russian dragons, pursue Napoleon as he retreats to France after a decisive route on the part of the allied nations. Brutal weather chases defenders and invaders alike as a Russian winter begins to sink its claws into the land. Dragons and humans begin to succumb to the below freezing temperatures. Novik described these conditions, wrought, no doubt, by the global ‘Little Ice Age’, in such a manner that I felt I was there. Like the previous books, large swathes of time and space are crossed. Laurence survives the Russian campaign, only to end up captured by the French, along with Granby and Iskeirka. Yet, Napoleon still respects Laurence and treats him as an honoured prisoner, more a guest really. Nice it may be, a gilded cage is still a cage, and the prisoners manage to escape. Temeraire and Laurence have more adventures and battles. The book’s end sees the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars with Bonaparte’s exile. Napoleon is a favourite historical personage of mine, and this book, and the series as a whole, gives a new perspective. He is ambitious, certainly, yet a sympathetic character nonetheless.
I devoured this book. I love this series and was so bummed this was the last book. When I finished, I sat in a kind of stupefied state that I get when a really grand series comes to its inevitable denouement. I’ve enjoyed this most marvelous journey with Temeraire and crew over the years. I would so love to see these turned to movies. Indeed, from the first, I’ve always pictured Laurence as Russell Crowe a lá the Master and Commander movie, and Granby to me has always been Christian Bale, as he was in the movie Equilibrium. I will miss the sweet anticipation of new Temeraire adventures, yet there is a certain satisfaction that the series is ended, and I can revisit as often as I desire. The long waits are over (now if only George R.R. Martin would wrap up the Song of Ice and Fire series before I die of old age….) Though set on an alternate world, one with dragons, the tone and voice of the story remind me of Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander series. I felt fully immersed in the language and customs of Temeraire’s time. Novik does a brilliant job of bringing this era to life. One thing I really love about the entire series is the dragon politics that develop because of Temeraire’s different personality and his egg upbringing. This intensifies after his visit to China, where dragons and people interact in a very different manner. Dragons in China are regarded as people, as sentient beings with intelligence, which just seems logical to me. I also love all the varied dragon types encountered over the years and making appearances in this spectacular finale. Highly recommended if you enjoy dragons! And alternate world fiction. And dragons!! Or historical fiction/fantasy, especially of the Napoleonic War. Did I mention DRAGONS!?