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Black Powder War: A Novel of Temeraire
 
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Black Powder War: A Novel of Temeraire [Format Kindle]

Naomi Novik
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Chapter 1

The hot wind blowing into Macao was sluggish and unrefreshing, only stirring up the rotting salt smell of the harbor, the fish-corpses and great knots of black-red seaweed, the effluvia of human and dragon wastes. Even so the sailors were sitting crowded along the rails of the Allegiance for a breath of the moving air, leaning against one another to get a little room. A little scuffling broke out amongst them from time to time, a dull exchange of shoving back and forth, but these quarrels died almost at once in the punishing heat.

Temeraire lay disconsolately upon the dragondeck, gazing towards the white haze of the open ocean, the aviators on duty lying half-asleep in his great shadow. Laurence himself had sacrificed dignity so far as to take off his coat, as he was sitting in the crook of Temeraire’s foreleg and so concealed from view.

“I am sure I could pull the ship out of the harbor,” Temeraire said, not for the first time in the past week; and sighed when this amiable plan was again refused: in a calm he might indeed have been able to tow even the enormous dragon transport, but against a direct headwind he could only exhaust himself to no purpose.

“Even in a calm you could scarcely pull her any great distance,” Laurence added consolingly. “A few miles may be of some use out in the open ocean, but at present we may as well stay in harbor, and be a little more comfortable; we would make very little speed even if we could get her out.”

“It seems a great pity to me that we must always be waiting on the wind, when everything else is ready and we are also,” Temeraire said. “I would so like to be home soon: there is so very much to be done.” His tail thumped hollowly upon the boards, for emphasis.

“I beg you will not raise your hopes too high,” Laurence said, himself a little hopelessly: urging Temeraire to restraint had so far not produced any effect, and he did not expect a different event now. “You must be prepared to endure some delays; at home as much as here.”

“Oh! I promise I will be patient,” Temeraire said, and immediately dispelled any small notion Laurence might have had of relying upon this promise by adding, unconscious of any contradiction, “but I am quite sure the Admiralty will see the justice of our case very quickly. Certainly it is only fair that dragons should be paid, if our crews are.”

Having been at sea from the age of twelve onwards, before the accident of chance which had made him the captain of a dragon rather than a ship, Laurence enjoyed an extensive familiarity with the gentlemen of the Admiralty Board who oversaw the Navy and the Aerial Corps both, and a keen sense of justice was hardly their salient feature. The offices seemed rather to strip their occupants of all ordinary human decency and real qualities: creeping, nip-farthing political creatures, very nearly to a man. The vastly superior conditions for dragons here in China had forced open Laurence’s unwilling eyes to the evils of their treatment in the West, but as for the Admiralty’s sharing that view, at least so far as it would cost the country tuppence, he was not sanguine.

In any case, he could not help privately entertaining the hope that once at home, back at their post on the Channel and engaged in the honest business of defending their country, Temeraire might, if not give over his goals, then at least moderate them. Laurence could make no real quarrel with the aims, which were natural and just; but England was at war, after all, and he was conscious, as Temeraire was not, of the impudence in demanding concessions from their own Government under such circumstances: very like mutiny. Yet he had promised his support and would not withdraw it. Temeraire might have stayed here in China, enjoying all the luxuries and freedoms which were his birthright, as a Celestial. He was coming back to England largely for Laurence’s sake, and in hopes of improving the lot of his comrades-in-arms; despite all Laurence’s misgivings, he could hardly raise a direct objection, though it at times felt almost dishonest not to speak.

“It is very clever of you to suggest we should begin with pay,” Temeraire continued, heaping more coals of fire onto Laurence’s conscience; he had proposed it mainly for its being less radical a suggestion than many of the others which Temeraire had advanced, such as the wholesale demolition of quarters of London to make room for thoroughfares wide enough to accommodate dragons, and the sending of draconic representatives to address Parliament, which aside from the difficulty of their getting into the building would certainly have resulted in the immediate flight of all the human members. “Once we have pay, I am sure everything else will be easier. Then we can always offer people money, which they like so much, for all the rest; like those cooks which you have hired for me. That is a very pleasant smell,” he added, not a non sequitur: the rich smoky smell of well-charred meat was growing so strong as to rise over the stench of the harbor.

Laurence frowned and looked down: the galley was situated directly below the dragondeck, and wispy ribbons of smoke, flat and wide, were seeping up from between the boards of the deck. “Dyer,” he said, beckoning to one of his runners, “go and see what they are about, down there.”

Temeraire had acquired a taste for the Chinese style of dragon cookery which the British quartermaster, expected only to provide freshly butchered cattle, was quite unable to satisfy, so Laurence had found two Chinese cooks willing to leave their country for the promise of substantial wages. The new cooks spoke no English, but they lacked nothing in self-assertion; already professional jealousy had nearly brought the ship’s cook and his assistants to pitched battle with them over the galley stoves, and produced a certain atmosphere of competition.

Dyer trotted down the stairs to the quarterdeck and opened the door to the galley: a great rolling cloud of smoke came billowing out, and at once there was a shout and halloa of “Fire!” from the look-outs up in the rigging. The watch-officer rang the bell frantically, the clapper scraping and clanging; Laurence was already shouting, “To stations!” and sending his men to their fire crews.

All lethargy vanished at once, the sailors running for buckets, pails; a couple of daring fellows darted into the galley and came out dragging limp bodies: the cook’s mates, the two Chinese, and one of the ship’s boys, but no sign of the ship’s cook himself. Already the dripping buckets were coming in a steady flow, the bosun roaring and thumping his stick against the foremast to give the men the rhythm, and one after another the buckets were emptied through the galley doors. But still the smoke came billowing out, thicker now, through every crack and seam of the deck, and the bitts of the dragondeck were scorching hot to the touch: the rope coiled over two of the iron posts was beginning to smoke.

Young Digby, quick-thinking, had organized the other ensigns: the boys were hurrying together to unwind the cable, swallowing hisses of pain when their fingers brushed against the hot iron. The rest of the aviators were ranged along the rail, hauling up water in buckets flung over the side and dousing the dragondeck: steam rose in white clouds and left a grey crust of salt upon the already warping planks, the deck creaking and moaning like a crowd of old men. The tar between the seams was liquefying, running in long black streaks along the deck with a sweet, acrid smell as it scorched and smoked. Temeraire was standing on all four legs now, mincing from one place to another for relief from the heat, though Laurence had seen him lie with pleasure on stones baked by the full strength of the midday sun.

Captain Riley was in and among the sweating, laboring men, shouting encouragement as the buckets swung back and forth, but there was an edge of despair in his voice. The fire was too hot, the wood seasoned by the long stay in harbor under the baking heat; and the vast holds were filled with goods for the journey home: delicate china wrapped in dry straw and packed in wooden crates, bales of silks, new-laid sailcloth for repairs. The fire had only to make its way four decks down, and the stores would go up in quick hot flames running all the way back to the powder magazine, and carry her all away.

The morning watch, who had been sleeping below, were now fighting to come up from the lower decks, open-mouthed and gasping with the smoke chasing them out, breaking the lines of water-carriers in their panic: though the Allegiance was a behemoth, her forecastle and quarterdeck could not hold her entire crew, not with the dragondeck nearly in flames. Laurence seized one of the stays and pulled himself up on the railing of the deck, looking for his crew in and amongst the milling crowd: most had already been out upon the dragondeck, but a handful remained unaccounted for: Therrows, his leg still in splints after the battle in Peking; Keynes, the surgeon, likely at his books in the privacy of his cabin; and he could see no sign of Emily Roland, his other runner: she was scarcely turned eleven, and could not easily have pushed her way out past the heaving, struggling men.

A thin, shrill kettle-whistle erupted from the galley chimneys, the metal cowls beginning to droop towards the deck, slowly, like flowers gone to seed. Temeraire hissed back in instinctive displeasure, drawing his head back up to all the full length of his neck, his ruff flattening against his neck. His great haunches had already tensed to spring, one foreleg resting on the railing. “Laurence, is i...

Booklist

*Starred Review* Captain Laurence had commanded a ship in the Royal Navy (see His Majesty's Dragon, 2006) but was relegated to the aviator corps after bonding with the hatchling from the dragon egg his ship found aboard a French prize his ship had seized. He and Temeraire, the hatchling, are a team now. In Throne of Jade (2006), the admiralty want sent Temeraire to China with Laurence. Temeraire is a Celestial, hence among the very finest of dragons. Indeed, Temeraire, or Lung Tien Xiang, is an imperial prince. At the end of Throne of Jade, the British party, including Temeraire, is free to return to England. In Black Powder War, urgent orders lead them overland to Turkey, where they encounter a vengeful Lung they had worsted in Peking. Laurence and Temeraire reach German lands in time for the battle of Jena, where they face Napoleon's corps, a ferocious French dragon, and the disgruntled Lung. Novik's magical eighteenth century, peopled with sympathetic characters, induces avid reading. Long may she write! Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Apprendre l'histoire ludiquement 28 octobre 2011
Format:Broché
La serie de Temeraire est tres passionante pour les personnes aimant les livres de fantaisie. C'est tres amusant d'ecouter (mentallement) un dragon parler plusieurs langues et de philosopher sur le traitement des dragons!
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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  101 commentaires
31 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Better than before-drama, politics, action and high fantasy for dragon lovers 27 juillet 2006
Par Lilly Flora - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche|Achat authentifié par Amazon
Easily the best of the bunch, "Black Powder War" is the third in the historical fantasy Temeraire series. We start as Laurence and crew are leaving China, Laurence having just become the adopted son of the Chinese emperor so that he is worthy of a dragon of Temeraire's class. All our friends are on a slow ship heading back to Britain when a fire breaks out on board, nearly gutting the ship and causing a possible three month delay while its repaired, The dragon crew considers going overland, but are forced to when an urgent message comes from England-three dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman empire by England and they need Temeraire to pick them up and deliver them.

Of course the journey overland is hard, and involves a meeting with a large group of feral dragons-who turn out to be not so feral after all. While they tell Temeraire a soap opera story about dragons he continues on his quest to get better treatment, including city residences and pay, for the British dragons. Laurence is worried about such thoughts, because he knows that nothing like that will ever come to pass and he doesn't want Temeraire to desert for China and a better life.

Once in the Ottoman Empire there are problems, and the shadow of the mad and evil white Celestial dragon hangs over Laurence's head as she follows them west. Soon problems from Napoleon and the eggs overthrow any of Laurence's concerns about Temeraire, and everyone's lives are thrown into peril.

Temeraire really gets a personality in this book, and even Laurence's worrying and duty bound personality begins to improve. The feral dragons are a riot, and the action in this book is breathtaking. This one actually had me up all night reading, and it won't disappoint anyone who even sort of liked "His Majesty's Dragon" or "Throne of Jade". This book ranks an easy four stars, and the letter at the end of it, from an unknown person talking of the dragons as stupid beasts casts a great shadow of drama for future books, as does the prequel for the next.
17 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Dragon Duels and Derring-Do 6 août 2006
Par M. T. Campos - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
I was hesitant in buying this last one because the reviews I was reading seemed to dwell on the military campaigns of Napoleon (yes, he makes a cameo appearance). I supposed the title of the book didn't help. But really the Napoleonic War doesn't start until Page 200 of a 365 Page Book. And I was surprised to see how skillfully and plausibly the author wove the dragons into the war. It was a WORTHY and Most Exciting finale to the Temeraire Trilogy.

Do not miss any of it. You will see how expertly the dragons are used in battle. How Lien, the outcast albino dragon, who lost her captain, the perfidious prince Yongxing (read THRONE OF JADE), defected to the side of the French, in order to effect a most ingenious revenge on Temeraire and Laurence.

Most noteworthy is the development of the dragon psyche. We are introduced to the feral dragons of the Turkish mountains . . dragons in their natural state who have never known the harness but consequently aren't that well-fed either. (Comic relief after a particularly intense journey through the desert). And Temeraire beg us to consider the emancipation of all dragons though his fascinating discussions with Laurence concerning the issues of choice and freedom. THere's also the dragon eggs themselves-- whose value-- figures a greal deal in all the books. How do the dragons feel about separation from their eggs?

5 Stars! (Some heartbreak in the fate of some members of Temeraire's crew.) I do so hate these moments when I have to whip out a hanky for characters in a Fantasy! But I guess that tells you how well-written this book truly is!

I look forward to more, Ms. Novik! Consider me a life-long fan!
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Continues to be good, but where is the ending? 5 juillet 2006
Par L. Daub - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
This book is quite similar to the previous two in the series, which I count as a point in its favor. I might have liked more dragon-master relationship building, but I was not displeased overall on that count.

This book was however severely wanting in any kind of satisfactory ending. Maybe it is because I rarely read fantasy, and tend to stay away from "endless" epic adventure stories...but I would have imagined that three books would have contained enough pages to have fully told a complete story. With this book's ending, I really get the feeling that I am being strung along. I know this is probably wise marketing, and that some fantasy readers love a series that promises never to end. I however, and I am sure some others of you out there, want an engaging tale told over one, or at most a few, books.

As it is Novik seems to have taken at most two books worth of material, stretched it out to three, and STILL not managed to tie anything of consequence up in the process.

So, while the book was still on the whole enjoyable, this is a warning to others like me who were hoping for a nice trilogy and not a never-ending story.
8 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 As engaging and fun as ever, even if the war is getting a bit tiresome and drawn out 19 février 2007
Par N. Andersen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
While the third volume in the ongoing series (not a trilogy as it initially appeared) sticks fairly closely to the mold of the first two, there is enough novelty and interesting development here to keep the reader eagerly reading. The end is only disappointing insofar as at the finish of this volume there appears to be no real end in sight. On the one hand, that is cause for minor celebration, since it means that the characters who have been introduced in the first three volumes will be around for some time -- I wouldn't be surprised if this draws out to nine or ten volumes. On the other hand, some kind of real closure would be nice -- even if it were to begin again with another trilogy. What distinguishes this fantasy series from many other popular fantasy pieces is that it is tied to historical events (that are reimagined and tweaked, to accommodate within an alternate reality like our own the existence of intelligent dragons). That means it can't have some kind of artificial ending (Harry Potter finishes at Hogwarts, and/or he or Voldemort die; the Ring gets destroyed; etc.), but only the relative kind of ending that is possible in real history (a battle ends and there is a time before a new one begins; a king is crowned; a revolution takes place, etc.). This one ends, it seems, with no more certainty than the series began with. Temeraire has greater ambitions for dragonkind, but it is gradually becoming clear that these ambitions will have to take second place to the war with Napoleon. While that makes sense, and the war even in this reality took a long time, I'm not sure how much patience I will continue to have with the series if the plot continues to be, roughly: crises leading to character development and then some drawn about battle after which they need to rest and there are crises leading to character development and then another drawn out battle ... in this one, especially, she found ways to introduce a great deal of variety into this general schema, but at least this reader can only get so far interested in battle formations and dragons and ships and infantry fighting back and forth. What is really interesting in the story are the various characters, and the insights into dragon intelligence and ways of thinking and especially Temeraire's growing understanding of the world and increasing dissatisfaction with the position of dragons in the West. I can't help but wish, like Temeraire in the story, for the war to end soon so that these other issues can become the focus.

While this theme is the most intriguing, and gives the whole series a political and social edge that serves at least allegorically to encourage thinking about the kinds of oppressions with which our own history has been replete, it still continues to stretch credibility the extent to which the abilities and intelligence of dragons are, it seems, only just becoming known. The parallel with slavery, that is alluded to here, and the delusions about slaves that for so long justified the practice in the minds of their oppressors makes some sense of the way dragons are treated here -- and if you combine that with the idea that in their affections dragons are something like dogs, who become attached to the first person they imprint upon, and therefore less likely to revolt than they might otherwise, it can be further explained, but the dragons are not stupid and it is really difficult to credit that human beings would not know more about such powerful beings.

Still, there is inevitably some need to suspend disbelief in a story about dragons, and Novik treads a fine line between immersing us in a fantasy realm and developing parallels with our own history. It remains much more fun to read than most science fiction/fantasy I have seen in some time, and it is a bit silly to complain that there is more to come.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 L-- and T-- meander across Asia and Europe 17 juillet 2008
Par Margaret P. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
"Black Powder War" is an alternate history novel, set in Europe and Asia at the time of the Napoleanic war. This novel continues where "Throne of Jade" leaves off with the (untrue) promise that this novel will focus on T--'s attempts to reform Brittish law concerning dragons. Instead, this novel follows L-- and T-- as they meander through a series of loosely related adventures across Asia and Europe. Along the way, they are confounded by new orders, frustrated by stupid managers, and delighted with new dragon friends.

This novel is fairly intersting and creative, and the new dragon friends absolutely delightful. My problem with this novel is that it doesn't deliver what was promised, doesn't really seem to go anywhere, and relies too heavy on the "stupid boss" theme. The reader is left at the end with another (untrue) promise that the next book will delve into T--'s attempts to reform Brittish law concerning dragons (it doesn't, either). The overall feel of the novel is "the continuing adventures of L-- and T-- as they meander through life", and it feels somewhat like an awkward middle child, mainly consisting of backdrop for future plot lines. The novel has all of the usual sequel problems -- the unique premises being conveyed in the first two novels, the third novel was left in a weaker position. Readers who prefer books with multiple sequels may disagree on this issue and should probably add one star to my rating.

"Black Powder War" is an entertaining read and pleasant escape, though perhaps not worth keeping on your shelf after. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Hero Strikes Back or Forged Without Fire: A Champion for Catlover or perhaps The Hawk Eternal (A Novel of the Hawk Queen).
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