Saturday, August 6, 2016

Book Review: League of Dragons

League of Dragons
Naomi Novik

This is subtitled "The Last Temeraire Novel." That should give you a clue. If you like the Temeraire novels, you'll like League of Dragons. If you don't, you won't. If you've never read them, don't start here.

That's pretty much it. Novik is still good at the things she's good at, and still not good at the things she's not good at. She has no gift for creating memorable secondary characters. Her plotting is somewhat random; League of Dragons has a duel that leaves the main human character wounded, for example, which reads like an outtake and could easily have been cut. The action scenes can get a little bit repetitive, although they're well-written.

But her dragons are wonderful. They fully meet John W. Campbell's famous challenge ("Write me a creature that thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man"). If housecats could talk, this is what they'd be like--self-centered, vain, competitive, and somehow lovable. The series isn't as good as its first book, but for a fantasy fan it's worth reading just for the dragons.

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