Title: Victory of Eagles (Temeraire #5)
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fiction: Historical-Fiction; Historical-Fantasy; Fantasy
For Britain, conditions are grim: Napoleon’s resurgent forces have breached the Channel and successfully invaded English soil. Napoleon’s prime objective is the occupation of London. Unfortunately, the dragon Temeraire has been removed from military service–and his captain, Will Laurence, has been condemned to death for treason. Separated by their own government and threatened at every turn by Napoleon’s forces, Laurence and Temeraire must struggle to find each other amid the turmoil of war. If only they can be reunited, master and dragon might rally Britain’s scattered resistance forces and take the fight to the enemy as never before–for king and country, and for their own liberty (from Goodreads).
Thoughts: This is the fifth book in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. I’m a big fan of this series, which I think I’ve mentioned before on here, for a couple of reasons: the writing is good, the plots are entertaining and fast paced, the word Novik has built is interesting, and each book, although related, can be read on their own- which is great for me because if a series drags on and on on one topic/plot for several books I usually lose interest and stop reading the series entirely. In fact, I think this is the first series since Harry Potter that I’m actually actively reading and looking forward to the new releases, although I am behind- the 9th book is being released this year so I have some catching up to do!
If you’re not familiar with this series, here’s the gist of it: Britain is at war with Napoleon who is bent on conquering Europe. Besides frenzied sea battles and fighting on land between both armies there is another element to the war in Novik’s books: dragons. Yes, dragons. Dragons used to run wild in the past, hunting and living in mountain passes and forests and stealing livestock – much like wolves – in the time of the Napoleonic wars most of the dragons in Europe have been rounded and either live in remote breeding grounds, producing eggs, or else serve in the military, specifically the aerial corps. Although dragons, and there are many types, are highly intelligent and emotional creatures and are able to talk (this is historical-fantasy after all!), they are still considered on par with other animals in the eyes of the law: dragons are assigned a captain and a team upon hatching from their egg, which is how Temeraire and William Laurence met.
Laurence, a captain in the navy in charge of his own ship, captures a French ship in the opening pages of the first book in the series and, along with the other loot brought from the commandeered ship onto his own, is a dragon egg about to hatch. A dragon hatching is usually a carefully orchestrated event as the first person the dragon sees, and approves of, is the only person the dragon will allow to command it, i.e. that person becomes its ‘captain.’ So when the dragon in Laurence’s possession hatches and immediately clings to his side, Laurence is forced to give up his naval career and become a member of the aerial corp, a harsh demotion in most people’s eyes, and learn to fight Napoleon from the air rather than the sea.
By the time the fifth book in the series rolls around, Victory of Eagles, Laurence and Temeraire are seasoned fighters and have taken part in many battles. I don’t want to give too much information out in case some of you are reading, or thinking of reading, the series, but at the beginning of book five,we are still dealing with the events that ended book four-events which have resulted in permanently altered circumstances for both Laurence and Temeraire. Victory of Eagles has its own plot but the previous book’s events are a strong undercurrent to the plot here which I like because Temeraire and Laurence’s relationship is both strained and altered by decisions made in book 4. Their relationship is one of the most great aspects of the series, in my opinion, and it was interesting to me to see how the reacted and responded to their new circumstances. They are both dealing with different aspects of the same issue and things are left unsaid between them for much of the book; previously their relationship has always been open, agreeable, and extremely close so I thought this shift was interesting and I liked that their relationship is not staying static but instead evolving.
Of course, the majority of the book deals with Napoleon, preparing for battle, skirmishes, close calls and escapes, and a major battle at the end of the book. I won’t say what the outcome is, but if you read the title of the book I thin you’ll figure it out 🙂 But once the climax of Victory of Eagles is reached, the lingering events of book four come to the forefront and rear their ugly head- book 5 ends with Temeraire and Laurence facing an uncertain future and new circumstances in book 6.
I know this review was very vague but if I had gone into more specific detail I would have had to reveal events that happened in previous books and I don’t want to spoil anybody as being spoiled in regards to a series is really terrible, in my opinion. Just know that I really liked this book, I think it was one of the stronger books so far in the series, and I’m excited to see what happens next!
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