cover image Blood of Tyrants

Blood of Tyrants

Naomi Novik. Del Rey, $26 (448p) ISBN 978-0-345-52289-4

Novik’s eighth and penultimate alternate history novel (after Crucible of Gold) opens with series hero Laurence shipwrecked and taken prisoner in Japan in an extended tribute to Shogun. His reunion with Temeraire, his dragon companion, is awkward, as Laurence has suffered a head injury and entirely forgotten the past several years. As Laurence struggles to regain his health and memories, they journey to Temeraire’s native China for some court intrigue, then fly to Russia to confront Napoleon’s invading army. While each episode works well on its own, the ties between them are tenuous, leading to a less satisfying whole. Surprisingly, the amnesia plot is the highlight of the book; Laurence reflects movingly on how very strange his life has become, while often-self-absorbed Temeraire is humbled by Laurence’s sacrifices on his behalf. Despite the fast pace, Novik does fit in some interesting scenery, with glimpses of a Japan ruled by dragons and Temeraire’s discovery that dragons can be as corrupt and oppressive as any man. Fans will mostly find their appetites whetted for the series conclusion. Agent: Cynthia Manson, Cynthia Manson Literary Agency. (Aug.)