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Bottom line: If you have come this far in the Temeraire series, you will definitely want to grab Blood of Tyrants and you will enjoy much of it. This series is one that must be read in order and if you haven't started it, I recommend it as wonderful alternate history fantasy - start with His Majesty's Dragon.
This is not the best book in the series - actually, I'd say it is the weakest. But if you have gotten to book 8, you have probably come to love these characters as I have and spending time with them again is enormous fun in spite of a rather frantic inconclusive plot line for this edition. Laurence's amnesia that begins the book is silly, but does serve as a reminder not only of past events in the series (catching us up for the home stretch I guess) as Laurence slowly recovers, but also calls up one of the central elements that makes this series truly grand. The walk down memory lane recalls the moral/ethical development of both Temeraire who started his life as a blank slate and Laurence who started the series with a moral code externally dictated by his station, government, and culture. Watching Temeraire and Laurence both grow in the development of personal conscience and understanding of the the other's perspective has been a delight and has made this series special in the world of fantasy. (In addition to having the best dragons since Pern!)
Novik takes her human/dragon duo to Japan, China, and Russia in this installment of the Napoleonic wars as fought with dragons. However, in spite of an inordinate number of skirmishes and all-out battles in this book, the over-arching plot line is little advanced, the Laurence/Temeraire relationship is only explored from the past (because of the hokey amnesia thing) with little opportunity for the two to grow as they have in previous episodes, and the book has a rather graceless ending with everything up in the air.
Although Blood of Tyrants seems to be mostly a set-up for the Grand Finale of the Temeraire series, I still really enjoyed it and recommend it to all Temeraire fans. A little time with not only our heroic duo, but also some fun moments with clever Emily, long-suffering Granby, and the hilarious, narcissistic Iskierka, in addition to the ever-so-fabulous voices of Simon Vance makes this a good listen. I think and hope Novik is prepping us for a really great conclusion.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
I thought this was an excellent addition to the Temeraire series, faster paced and with more adventure and emotion than books 6 and 7. This is among my favorites in the series, nearly up there with books 1 and 5.
Amnesia is certainly a tired potboiler plot device, but after all this is an adventure serial.
I thought Novik handled it well and delicately, using it to highlight how much Laurence has changed over the course of the series and how his relationship with Temeraire has developed as well. She also uses the device to get some emotion and tender moments, without wringing it dry.
It's good to see Temeraire moving to more of a general's position, which is very difficult for him but gives the readers a better idea of the big picture. There are a number of nice plot twists and bits of clever strategy which I thought were quite interesting. I only wish that Temeraire had been able to use his eloquence more to persuade other dragons, as he did in book 5. As usual we get to see some new countries and the different ways their cultures deal with dragons, in addition to some old familiar friends from earlier in the series. And of course the difference between human and dragon perspectives on events and characters is a source of humor and some deeper philosophy.
Simon Vance's narration is fantastic as always - I only disagreed with him on one voice (Granby's), but otherwise all the voices he choices were suitable and distinct, with accents noticeable but not intrusive.
This is the first Audible book in which I've found a technical problem - a bit from earlier in the book spliced in between 5:39 and 5:42 in the first section. Annoying, but on consideration I didn't feel that it detracted from my enjoyment enough to remove any stars.
The book ends on a cliffhanger, but not a horrible cruel one - just enough to have me looking forward eagerly to the next book!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful