Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik

Tongue of Serpents.jpgAt this point I think I’m just reading these books out of tenacity. I really liked the first few books in this series. The premise, that of dragons during the Napoleonic Wars, is fascinating and it is still amazing how much Novik has developed how that plays out in the different societies of the world.

I have enjoyed seeing how each country and continent has learned to live with dragons in a different way.

The problem is that, at this point, it begins to feel like Novik is taking us on a tour of the world so she can show us all these strange dragons and the ways that all these different societies have found to deal with giant lizards in their midst.

In this book Lawrence and Temeraire find themselves exiled to Australia. No sooner do they get there than some natives steal two dragon eggs that they have been put in charge of and they must set off at once to cross the uncharted continent in order to get the eggs back. The rest of the book is a slow chase across Australia with some suspense and a bit of action here and there.

Novik is never boring. Her prose and her command of characters is so sharp that it continually feels like I am reading an actual account of people crossing Australia on an expedition of dragons. The world feels so real and her ability to write in the language of the day and the voice of the time period is almost uncanny.

The problem comes from the fact that this is yet another book in the series that doesn’t really have a clear villain or enemy. The series itself has no clear enemy and so the books start to feel like there is little progression to them. Temeraire and Laurence have things happen to them and they are interesting but the whole things feels like it is beginning to stretch out and it becomes hard to maintain interest.

I did like this book, though. I enjoy the the characters of Novik’s world. I like the story she is telling. It feels like it is spinning wheels at times but it’s great fun while it’s doing it.


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