cover image Crucible of Gold

Crucible of Gold

Naomi Novik. Del Rey, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-345-52286-3

In a delightful return to form, British aviator William Laurence and his dragon companion, Temeraire, are recalled from Australian exile (described in 2010’s Tongues of Serpents) for their seventh adventure. In the Incan Empire, European plagues have devastated the human population, and dragons have taken charge. As the Inca empress considers a personal and political alliance with Napoleon, British dragon Iskierka promotes her captain, Granby, as a marital alternative—very much against his will. Meanwhile, the African Tswana tribe have begun raiding Brazil to rescue black slaves with French help, putting British abolitionist Laurence in an uncomfortable position. While delivering an absorbing adventure complete with shipwreck, mutiny, field surgery, and a difficult journey across a strange new land, Novik weaves in complex moral questions about the blurry line between freedom and possession on personal and societal scales. This is a must-read for series fans and an intriguing fantasy story in its own right. Agent: Cynthia Manson, the Cynthia Manson Literary Agency. (Mar.)