Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, Book 4)

Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, Book 4)
Naomi Novik, 2007

Premise: (Follows Black Powder War) Lawrence and Temeraire return to Britain after a long and difficult journey, only to find that their troubles are still far from over. Sickness has struck the dragons of Britain, and Temeraire and Lawrence are eventually sent south with their squadron in search of a cure. While there, they run into more dragons, some feral, and some less so. A new potential world power is emerging, and their squadron is right in the middle of it!

Thematically, the events of Empire of Ivory continue the general trends of this series. This one explores the parallels between Temeraire's hopes for the future of British dragons with Lawrence's father's work with the abolitionist movement, and then deals with the realities of the aftermath (including possible world war) of the slave trade, as well as decisions made by government officials who aren't on board with the idea that dragons could have rights.

Although I was frankly a little surprised that there had been a slave trade, given the presence of dragons in Africa, the exploration of the coalescing nation there was fascinating.

The minor characters solidify their places a bit in this one, and there's some funny scenes where Lawrence struggles with the fact that he hasn't fully left his stuffy upper-class upbringing behind after all, at least not when it comes to relations between men and women.

This is a good entry in this series, but not fantastic, except that it has a really amazing ending. Heartrending, gorgeous, perfect cliffhanger of an ending. Time to look up Book Five.

4 Stars – A Very Good Book


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