Friday, May 9, 2008

Victory of Eagles-Naomi Novik

Victory of Eagles
Naomi Novik
Del Rey, Jul 2008, $25.00
ISBN: 9780345496881

The war rages on between England and France, but Napoleon’s forces have landed on English soil. At the same Will Laurence knows he did the right moral thing when he betrayed his country but also feels anguish for doing so (see EMPIRE OF IVORY) as he realizes Napoleon is bringing the atrocities of war to his people thanks in part to his seditious act. Already convicted of treason, he believes he deserves to die even if he still feels he acted ethically as slavery is an abomination.

Meanwhile his dragon Temeraire is bored and grieving as he assumes Will is dead and cannot stand the haggling hags who he shares the Pen Y Fan breeding pen with in Wales as a guest of the state. However, having enough with their jealousies and constant bickering, Temeraire quickly turns them into a dragon force led by him.

When the ship bringing prisoner Laurence to England for his execution goes down in the Channel, he survives. He is given a stay if he reunites with Temeraire to bring the Divine Wind against Bonaparte, who controls London.

The fifth tale in this alternate historical fantasy is a superb entry even as Will and Temeraire stay home unlike the world traveling of the previous novels (see THRONE OF JADE, HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON, and BLACK POWDER WAR). The story line is fast-paced from the onset while once gain insuring dragons at war seem genuine. However it is Laurence’s conflicting anguish between knowing he did right vs. betraying his country and Temeraire’s doubts as to how to help him move past his angst make this a strong military fantasy. Fans of the Naomi Novik saga will appreciate this excellent entry even if Temeraire’s miraculous conversion of the cackling dragons into a precise aerial military unit in Guinness Book of Records time seems implausible as the heroes debate my country right or wrong.

Harriet Klausner

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