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Naomi Novik – Victory of Eagles

August 10, 2009

91. Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik (2008)
Temeraire, Book 5

Read my review of:
– Book 1: His Majesty’s Dragon
– Book 2: Throne of Jade
– Book 3: Black Powder War
– Book 4: Empire of Ivory

Length: 376 pages

Genre: Fantasy; Historical Fiction

Started: 23 July 2009
Finished: 29 July 2009

Where did it come from? Borders.
Why do I have it? I wasn’t planning to read this one until it came out in paperback, but I was poking around the bookstore right as I was finishing Empire of Ivory, and, wouldn’t you know it, there Victory of Eagles was on the “New Paperbacks” table.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 04 July 2009.
Verdict? Keeper, and anxiously awaiting the next book.

What’s more awesome than
dragons fighting in your war?
Dragons leading it!

Summary: As this book opens, Temeraire is an unhappy resident of the breeding grounds, and his captain Will Laurence is in prison, awaiting death for treason, each of them held hostage as surety for the other’s good behavior. Unfortunately for Britain, it is a bad time to have taken their most powerful dragon out of active service: Napoleon has successfully invaded England, and British forces are scattered, and forced to beat a hasty retreat. However, neither Laurence nor Temeraire are the sort to sit inactive while there’s a war to be fought, and this time the stakes are higher than ever before… for they’re fighting not only for their country and their homes, but also for their lives and their freedom.

Review: Action-wise, a lot less happens in this installment of the Temeraire series than in the previous few books. There’s a lot more talking, a lot more military maneuvering, and a lot more tiny skirmishes (plus one blow-out of a book-ending battle) in this one, and less of the constant (if episodic) adventure that characterized Black Powder War, for instance. Given my general dislike for military strategy and big battle scenes, you might think that this would cause me to dock the book some serious points. Novik, however, has cleverly figured out a way to keep even me interested in military strategy and troop movements: make one of those troops entirely out of captain-less dragons… and put Temeraire in charge of it.

Temeraire’s so charming and intelligent that I think we tend to forget he’s only a few years old, and watching him grow up and mature piece by piece is one of the pleasures of this series. In this case, watching him have to simultaneously accept the consequences of his and Laurence’s choices at the end of Empire of Ivory and accept the responsibility that comes with a leadership position was fascinating, and further cemented Temeraire’s place as one of the best dragons out there.

This book also kept up Novik’s amazing trick of writing in period style while keeping it easy to read, and even though it wasn’t all-action-all-the-time, it was still very absorbing, and pulled me through the book at a good clip. Overall, while Victory of Eagles does mark a change in tone and plotting style from previous books, it’s not an unwelcome change, and once again, the book ends promising interesting adventures to come. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I can’t imagine anyone getting to the end of Empire of Ivory and not immediately wanting to read the next one, so of course this book is recommended. The series as a whole is also obviously recommended to fantasy fans, and suggested to historical fiction fans who are willing to dabble a little outside of their comfort zone.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Naomi Novik’s Website, Naomi Novik’s LibraryThing Profile

Other Reviews: Stella Matutina, Medieval Bookworm, Jenny’s Books, Dear Author, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell, Strategist’s Personal Library, Bibleeohfile
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The breeding grounds were called Pen Y Fan, after the hard, jagged slash of the mountain at their heart, like an ax-blade, rimed with ice along its edge and rising barren over the moorlands: a cold, wet Welsh autumn already, coming on towards winter, and the other dragons sleepy and remote, uninterested in anything but their meals.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 177: ““That is quite enough, Martha; Peyle, take her back to the house and give her hartshorn,” Lady Allendale said, putting an end to the noise[.]” – The antler of a hart, formerly used as a source of ammonia and in smelling salts.
    .
  • p. 262: ““Do you imagine any of that upstart parvenu‘s circle to be content with something as mealy-mouthed as governorship?” Wellesley said.” – a person who has recently or suddenly acquired wealth, importance, position, or the like, but has not yet developed the conventionally appropriate manners, dress, surroundings, etc.
    .
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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2009 6:44 am

    I like the way this series is going. I definitely think Novik’s writing style and Temeraire’s personality are the best parts of the books. I’m really looking forward to the next.

  2. August 10, 2009 9:58 am

    Excellent review! I am totally with you on the fight scenes – my attention wanders – but it’s more fun when they are all dragons! Temeraire is such a delight. :)

  3. August 10, 2009 8:57 pm

    I’ve been meaning to get His Majesty’s Dragon! I saw it yesterday, at the bookstore, but at the last minute, I didn’t pick it up. I’m really regretting it now. Sounds like Naomi Novik is not to be missed out on!

  4. August 12, 2009 12:04 pm

    So, there is another book. There was another book on a website, but then like the next day it vanished so I wasn’t sure if there was more to the series or not. Since I still haven’t read this book I wasn’t sure how it ended. I will really have to make a point to catch-up! Something I keep saying on your reviews of this series… lol

  5. August 16, 2009 9:48 pm

    This book really got me looking forward to the next one. I do find Novik a little hit-or-miss, but I love that she’s willing to take risks with this series.

  6. August 18, 2009 9:17 am

    Meghan – Victory of Eagles was definitely a huge change in the course of the series… I can’t wait to see what Novik does next.

    Jenny – After complaining about the big battle in book 3, this one made me have to eat my words. :)

    Sharry – Oh, the next time you see it, grab it, for sure! They’re a ton of fun to read, and so charming!

    Kailana – I read somewhere that Novik’s planning nine total? But I can’t find any news on book six yet, so…

    Memory – Agreed. Although even the parts that are not my favorite are still good enough to keep me reading.

  7. September 2, 2009 2:10 pm

    I can’t wait for the next one, I lust love Temeraire and Laurence :)

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