The 8th book in the series.
Publication year: 2013
Page count: 432
Publisher: Del Ray
William Laurence washes up in a sea shore. He has no idea who he is and how he has gotten there. Fortunately, he’s saved by a local nobleman.
Meanwhile, Laurence’s dragon Temeraire, the dragon transport ship, and the rest of the dragons have problems. Laurence fell overboard during a storm and the ship was damaged. Temeraire wants to go immediately to look of his captain even though the nearest land mass is Japan which doesn’t allow foreigners. However, he has to help with the ship and Iskierka is having their egg and wants Temeraire to make sure it’s safe before he goes.
Back in Japan, Laurence has remembered his name… but doesn’t remember anything about the last eight years. He thinks that he’s still a ship’s captain and dealing with the very suspicious Japanese is difficult. Fortunately, he speaks Chinese and lots of the Japanese speak it, too. Laurence manages to escape but not without help and he meets the local dragons, too.
The book has three parts. The first is set in Japan, the second in China, and the third part returns our favorite dragons to the fight against Napoleon.
The amnesia forces Laurence to take a long hard look at his life and the people around him. This brings quite a lot of angst and slows the pace a lot. However, I quite liked the Japanese dragons and the clash of different sort of honor definitions and rules.
The rest of the book advances the overall plot and the book ends in a cliffhanger. And I have no idea when the next book might come out.
Overall I liked this book a lot. Amnesia plots are a bit hit or miss with me. They can be hilarious (Buffy’s “Tabula Rasa” comes to mind as well as Star Trek TNG “Conundrum”) but can also go very, very wrong. This is in between for me. Not hilarious at all, since it just brought more angst to, well, everyone and it seemed that Laurence is really unsatisfied with his life which is sad. Other things bring to humor to the book, though: Iskierka is jealous of Temeraire’s Chinese lover and it was fun for a few incidents but got old really fast.
The clash between cultures is always interesting and there are several cultures here compared to the British (and each other). Novik also references a few historical incidents which I almost always like.
The first part has a lot of introspection and so it’s pretty slow but the last third makes up with that when the dragons join the war effort again.