Title: Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, #4)
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fiction: Fantasy; Historical-Fantasy
Tragedy has struck His Majesty’s Aerial Corps, whose magnificent fleet of fighting dragons and their human captains valiantly defend England’s shores against the encroaching armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. An epidemic of unknown origin and no known cure is decimating the noble dragons’ ranks–forcing the hopelessly stricken into quarantine. Now only Temeraire and a pack of newly recruited dragons remain uninfected–and stand as the only means of an airborne defense against France’s ever bolder sorties.
Bonaparte’s dragons are already harrowing Britain’s ships at sea. Only one recourse remains: Temeraire and his captain, Will Laurence, must take wing to Africa, whose shores may hold the cure to the mysterious and deadly contagion. On this mission there is no time to waste, and no telling what lies in store beyond the horizon or for those left behind to wait, hope, and hold the line. (from Goodreads)
Thoughts: The fourth in Novik’s Temeraire books, the series is an alternate reality at the time Napoleon, in which dragons exits and play a crucial role in Bonaparte’s struggle for control of the continent. In Empire of Ivory, Laurence and his dragon Temeraire return to England only to find that the entire aerial corp’s dragons are gravely ill with a mysterious illness. They have been sick for months and are beginning to die. In order to save their dragon friends, Laurence, Temeraire, and a few others head to the South African Cape, where there is a slight possibility that there is a native cure for the disease can be found there.
I am a big fan of Novik’s Temeraire sereis; they are quick, entertaining reads, full of action and adventure, with good writing to boot. If I’m feeling in a reading slump or have been reading too much heavy non-fiction or chunky, slow-moving classics, I grab one of these books, plow through it, and emerge re-energized. That being said, this book was probably my least liked one in the series so far. This book was sort of an interlude, a set up for the main plot points in the next couple of books so that might have been why: it was a little slow and sort of divergent from the direction the story had been heading in in the first three books. Novik herself in the author’s notes even admitted that this book was the hardest one in the series to write so far and to a certain extant it shows.
However, I still enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was interesting that a small point in the previous book that was just mentioned formed the main plot point of this one. This book was entertaining enough and a fun read but it didn’t completely hold up to the rest of the series in terms of the plot and execution, at least for me. But it set up a good storyline for the next two or so books which I am excited about. Overall, this was a good book in the series because it really moved the plot forward and was a good read that I got through quickly. I really enjoy this series, especially Temeraire, and I can’t wait to read more!