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Throne of Jade: A Novel of Temeraire
 
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Throne of Jade: A Novel of Temeraire [Format Kindle]

Naomi Novik

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Chapter 1

The day was unseasonably warm for November, but in some misguided deference to the Chinese embassy, the fire in the Admiralty boardroom had been heaped excessively high, and Laurence was standing directly before it. He had dressed with especial care, in his best uniform, and all throughout the long and unbearable interview, the lining of his thick bottle-green broadcloth coat had been growing steadily more sodden with sweat.

Over the doorway, behind Lord Barham, the official indicator with its compass arrow showed the direction of the wind over the Channel: in the north-northeast today, fair for France; very likely even now some ships of the Channel Fleet were standing in to have a look at Napoleon’s harbors. His shoulders held at attention, Laurence fixed his eyes upon the broad metal disk and tried to keep himself distracted with such speculation; he did not trust himself to meet the cold, unfriendly gaze fixed upon him.

Barham stopped speaking and coughed again into his fist; the elaborate phrases he had prepared sat not at all in his sailor’s mouth, and at the end of every awkward, halting line, he stopped and darted a look over at the Chinese with a nervous agitation that approached obsequity. It was not a very creditable performance, but under ordinary circumstances, Laurence would have felt a degree of sympathy for Barham’s position: some sort of formal message had been anticipated, even perhaps an envoy, but no one had ever imagined that the Emperor of China would send his own brother halfway around the world.

Prince Yongxing could, with a word, set their two nations at war; and there was besides something inherently awful in his presence: the impervious silence with which he met Barham’s every remark; the overwhelming splendor of his dark yellow robes, embroidered thickly with dragons; the slow and relentless tapping of his long, jewel-encrusted fingernail against the arm of his chair. He did not even look at Barham: he only stared directly across the table at Laurence, grim and thin-lipped.

His retinue was so large they filled the boardroom to the corners, a dozen guards all sweltering and dazed in their quilted armor and as many servants besides, most with nothing to do, only attendants of one sort or another, all of them standing along the far wall of the room and trying to stir the air with broad-paneled fans. One man, evidently a translator, stood behind the prince, murmuring when Yongxing lifted a hand, generally after one of Barham’s more involved periods.

Two other official envoys sat to Yongxing’s either side. These men had been presented to Laurence only perfunctorily, and they had neither of them said a word, though the younger, called Sun Kai, had been watching all the proceedings, impassively, and following the translator’s words with quiet attention. The elder, a big, round- bellied man with a tufted grey beard, had gradually been overcome by the heat: his head had sunk forward onto his chest, mouth half open for air, and his hand was barely even moving his fan towards his face. They were robed in dark blue silk, almost as elaborately as the prince himself, and together they made an imposing façade: certainly no such embassy had ever been seen in the West.

A far more practiced diplomat than Barham might have been pardoned for succumbing to some degree of servility, but Laurence was scarcely in any mood to be forgiving; though he was nearly more furious with himself, at having hoped for anything better. He had come expecting to plead his case, and privately in his heart he had even imagined a reprieve; instead he had been scolded in terms he would have scrupled to use to a raw lieutenant, and all in front of a foreign prince and his reti- nue, assembled like a tribunal to hear his crimes. Still he held his tongue as long as he could manage, but when Barham at last came about to saying, with an air of great condescension, “Naturally, Captain, we have it in mind that you shall be put to another hatchling, afterwards,” Laurence had reached his limit.

“No, sir,” he said, breaking in. “I am sorry, but no: I will not do it, and as for another post, I must beg to be excused.”

Sitting beside Barham, Admiral Powys of the Aerial Corps had remained quite silent through the course of the meeting; now he only shook his head, without any appearance of surprise, and folded his hands together over his ample belly. Barham gave him a furious look and said to Laurence, “Perhaps I am not clear, Captain; this is not a request. You have been given your orders, you will carry them out.”

“I will be hanged first,” Laurence said flatly, past caring that he was speaking in such terms to the First Lord of the Admiralty: the death of his career if he had still been a naval officer, and it could scarcely do him any good even as an aviator. Yet if they meant to send Temeraire away, back to China, his career as an aviator was finished: he would never accept a position with any other dragon. None other would ever compare, to Laurence’s mind, and he would not subject a hatchling to being second-best when there were men in the Corps lined up six-deep for the chance.

Yongxing did not say anything, but his lips tightened; his attendants shifted and murmured amongst themselves in their own language. Laurence did not think he was imagining the hint of disdain in their tone, directed less at himself than at Barham; and the First Lord evidently shared the impression, his face growing mottled and choleric with the effort of preserving the appearance of calm. “By God, Laurence; if you imagine you can stand here in the middle of Whitehall and mutiny, you are wrong; I think perhaps you are forgetting that your first duty is to your country and your King, not to this dragon of yours.”

“No, sir; it is you who are forgetting. It was for duty I put Temeraire into harness, sacrificing my naval rank, with no knowledge then that he was any breed truly out of the ordinary, much less a Celestial,” Laurence said. “And for duty I took him through a difficult training and into a hard and dangerous service; for duty I have taken him into battle, and asked him to hazard his life and happiness. I will not answer such loyal service with lies and deceit.”

“Enough noise, there,” Barham said. “Anyone would think you were being asked to hand over your firstborn. I am sorry if you have made such a pet of the creature you cannot bear to lose him—”

“Temeraire is neither my pet nor my property, sir,” Laurence snapped. “He has served England and the King as much as I have, or you yourself, and now, because he does not choose to go back to China, you stand there and ask me to lie to him. I cannot imagine what claim to honor I should have if I agreed to it. Indeed,” he added, unable to restrain himself, “I wonder that you should even have made the proposal; I wonder at it greatly.”

“Oh, your soul to the devil, Laurence,” Barham said, losing his last veneer of formality; he had been a serving sea-officer for years before joining the Government, and he was still very little a politician when his temper was up. “He is a Chinese dragon, it stands to reason he will like China better; in any case, he belongs to them, and there is an end to it. The name of thief is a very unpleasant one, and His Majesty’s Government does not propose to invite it.”

“I know how I am to take that, I suppose.” If Laurence had not already been half-broiled, he would have flushed. “And I utterly reject the accusation, sir. These gentlemen do not deny they had given the egg to France; we seized it from a French man-of-war; the ship and the egg were condemned as lawful prize out of hand in the Admiralty courts, as you very well know. By no possible understanding does Temeraire belong to them; if they were so anxious about letting a Celestial out of their hands, they ought not have given him away in the shell.”

Yongxing snorted and broke into their shouting-match. “That is correct,” he said; his English was thickly accented, formal and slow, but the measured cadences only lent all the more effect to his words. “From the first it was folly to let the second-born egg of Lung Tien Qian pass over sea. That, no one can now dispute.”

It silenced them both, and for a moment no one spoke, save the translator quietly rendering Yongxing’s words for the rest of the Chinese. Then Sun Kai unexpectedly said something in their tongue which made Yongxing look around at him sharply. Sun kept his head inclined deferentially, and did not look up, but still it was the first suggestion Laurence had seen that their embassy might perhaps not speak with a single voice. But Yongxing snapped a reply, in a tone which did not allow of any further comment, and Sun did not venture to make one. Satisfied that he had quelled his subordinate, Yongxing turned back to them and added, “Yet regardless of the evil chance that brought him into your hands, Lung Tien Xiang was meant to go to the French Emperor, not to be made beast of burden for a common soldier.”

Laurence stiffened; common soldier rankled, and for the first time he turned to look directly at the prince, meeting that cold, contemptuous gaze with an equally steady one. “We are at war with France, sir; if you choose to ally yourself with our enemies and send them material assistance, you can hardly complain when we take it in fair fight.”

“Nonsense!” Barham broke in, at once and loudly. “China is by no means an ally of France, by no means at all; we certainly do not view China as a French ally. You are not here to speak...

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, and at the opening of Throne of Jade, he won't accept that the admiralty wants to send Temeraire back to China and him, Laurence, to trick the dragon into going. But Temeraire, it turns out, is a Celestial, hence among the very finest of dragons, and the Chinese ambassador insists he be returned. Temeraire agrees to go only if Laurence does, too, and after an adventurous transit--transporting dragons by sea from England to China with eighteenth-century sailing technology is no picnic--the English party arrives to face the intrigues of the Chinese court. The court is an eye-opener for the aviators. Dragons aren't treated as servants or beasts of burden, as they are in Europe, but as lords and princes. Temeraire, or Lung Tien Xiang, is an imperial prince, with kin in Peking. But Cain and Abel also exist among dragons, and a trail of intrigue begun in London excitingly climaxes at the imperial court. At the end of Throne of Jade, the British party, including Temeraire, is free to return to England. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 585 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 432 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0345481291
  • Editeur : Del Rey (25 avril 2006)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000GCFG8I
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  110 commentaires
27 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Even better than its predecessor! 30 mai 2006
Par Nichola F - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
Novik succeeds admirably in creating a novel which follows on neatly where 'Temeraire' (US title 'His Majesty's Dragon') left off - and yet which could be read very satisfyingly as a stand-alone by anyone who had not read the previous tale. I was very impressed by the elegance and clarity with which she provided the whole 'Previously, on Temeraire' information in the first few pages without ever resorting to obvious expositiony tactics. The opening scene drops us into the thick of things and immediately wins the reader over to worrying about the future for Lawrence and Temeraire, and when they *are* reunited - well, I for one was quite choked, and rooting for them, and wanting to *punch* the wretched idiots who were treating them both so badly. And the story had barely begun, at that point.

Other reviewers will tell you that Novik evokes an alternative history with verve and clarity through her attention to period detail, and they're right. They may also praise the fascinating way that she envisions her dragons (and similar beasts) interacting with humans, whether in Europe, at Sea, in Africa or in China. And they're right too - she gives us thoroughly intriguing and carefully considered glimpses into this unprettified fantasy world, and raises real questions about how humans would interact with other sentient beings - and how they do interact with other people.

But the thing that I enjoy most about both 'Temeraire' and 'Throne of Jade' is how very rounded and real and touching are the relationships that Novik delineates. Most obviously being that between Lawrence and Temeraire - but all the interpersonal dynamics are interesting and well observed, and it is this, perhaps even more than the marvellously detailed evocation of naval life or the aerial corps, that really breathes life and soul into the books. Certainly there is an interesting plot full of swashbuckling at sea and political machinations; certainly there are fire-breathing dragons and peril and bravery and all that jazz, and there's even a dash of sex. But the heart of the novel, and its predecessor, is the relationship between Lawrence and Temeraire, and how this relationship shapes and changes them both.

Look, just stop dithering, and buy the bloody thing already! It's a Very Good Book Indeed.
11 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Not as good as the first. 2 janvier 2008
Par Peter Shermeta - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
I am through two books of the series and I am conflicted. I mentioned after His Majesty's Dragon that I love Naomi Novik's dragons. While that still holds true, I now wonder how much, if at all, I truly love the rest of the story.

Throne of Jade is over 400 pages long and I felt like very little happened for the first (roughly) 300 pages. Once it was time for the few important events to take place, they happened so abruptly I wondered if they were as important to the story as they seemed that they should be.

Ms. Novik brought dragons into our world in the first book and here she broadened our horizons with a look at dragons from the far ends of the Earth. I will continue to read the series, at least for now. But I am beginning to wonder if it is the idea that I love and not its execution. It may become difficult to get through what is now already a five-book series if I cannot get excited about what happens on dragonless pages.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 pleasant continuation -- not a stand alone book 1 mai 2006
Par Margaret P. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
"Throne of Jade" is an alternate history novel, set in Europe and Asia at the time of the Napoleanic war. This novel continues where "His Magesty's Dragon" leaves off. The story is told from the point of view of L--, a dragon captain to a rare and precious Chineese dragon, T--. Dragon T-- was a gift from the Chineese to the French, captured by L-- in battle, and the Chineese demand T--'s return. To facilitate this, L-- is asked to lie to T-- and claim to no longer likes him. An honorable man, L-- refuses, causing problems for all of the politicians. Bound by affection, L-- and T-- set of for China, and are surprised by what they find there.

This novel is wonderfully creative and interesting. The personalities are well developped, and the dragons and setting quite unique. The setting is a reasonably accurate portrayal of history except for the dragons -- no magic, no mystical creatures, no fantasy in the traditional sense -- simply "what would the world be like if there were dragons." Personalities are varied and there are a few surprises. The author's portrayal of China is fascinating. This novel progresses at a moderate pace.

My problem with this novel is that the rise and fall of plot are a bit rough; that is, this novel is not intended to stand alone, but rather reads like the middle portion in a much longer multiple book novel, and the reader is left at the end wondering what happens next. The overall feel of the novel is "the continuing adventures of L-- and T-- as they meander through life", and I would have prefered a coherent thrust to the plot. The novel has all of the usual sequel problems -- the unique premise being conveyed in the first novel, the second 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.

"Throne of Jade" is wonderfully entertaining and overall a pleasant book, well worth reading.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Another wonderful novel from Novik! 29 avril 2006
Par Armchair Interviews - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
Second in the Temeraire trilogy, this story begins shortly after the events in the preceding novel, His Majesty's Dragon. Novik again captures the period perfectly, seamlessly introducing her dragons into the Napoleanic Era.

Temeraire is a Celestial dragon, the most highly-prized of all draconian breeds; famed for their intelligence, agility, and most of all for the Divine Wind--their earth-shattering roar capable of sundering the heavy timbers of warships. He was meant to be the companion of Napolean himself, not to be a companion for a mere English officer.

The Chinese are very angry, and demand his return, forcibly separating him from Captain Laurence. Temeraire balks at the separation, and in a show of power, demolishes the building in which he is being held. In the end it is decided that Laurence will accompany him to China, where it is assumed that Temeraire will come to his senses.

On the journey, several attempts are made on Laurence's life to no avail. The plotting and machinations only become worse once they arrive in China as the Chinese use means both fair and foul try to come between Laurence and his dragon. Eventually a resolution is achieved that allows the pair to remain together formally.

Temeraire is astonished to find that dragons are honored members of society in China, earning their own money, and taught literacy. Being of a philosophical bent, this encourages him to speak out against the injustice done to the dragons of England much to Laurence's chagrin, as Laurence can't deny the inequity, even though Laurence is afraid that attempts at change will be futile.

Having discovered how much nicer life is in China for dragons, will Temeraire willingly return to England?

This episode has less focus on combat than the first, but still manages to provide enough action to be exciting. It also deepens and develops the relationship between Capt.

Laurence and Temeraire, adding depth and yet another dimension to the story.

Armchair Interviews says: Novik has written another highly character-driven novel, which keeps the pages turning as the reader has to discover what will happen next.
12 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 A very disappointing sequel to an excellent first book 22 novembre 2006
Par Elkensteyin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
I truly enjoyed "His Majesty's Dragon", the first book of the series. I eagery started the second book, and ended up forcing myself to have to finish the book. I will agree with most observations that the development of Tereraire is very good in this book. Unfortunately, it seems that the author forgot about the main human character in the book, Laurence. The problem is, is that Laurence started out as a Captain of a Royal Navy Ship, and served for more than three years, yet for all of that, his character appeared to be as green as a raw recruit in everything in this book except the single fight scene. I felt that he was immature and had almost no common sense in this book, which is completely at odds with his character in the first book. True, this is more of a diplomatic area than wartime, and I could forgive a little uncertainty on his part, yet it just seemed like less thought was put into his character development than in Temeraire's.
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I am very tired of this Government, which I have never seen, and which is always insisting that I must do disagreeable things, and does no good to anybody. &quote;
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You may as well say, that if a creature will not serve people, and learn their habits, it is not intelligent, and had just as well be killed, &quote;
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