Author :  Naomi Novik

Date of Publication: April 25, 2006

Publisher :  Del Rey Books

ISBN-10: 0345481291

ISBN-13: 978-0345481290

No. of pages :  432


The Story :

China gets wind of where the prized dragon egg, their  lost gift for Napoleon, is.  An  angry Chinese Prince Yongxing and his delegation  arrive in Britain and demand the return of their dragon.

Temeraire is discovered to be a Celestial dragon, the rarest of Chinese breeds.   Venerated like royalty, the Chinese believe that only those of royal blood are worthy companions to these Celestials.  To their utter mortification, they discover their dragon would take no other companion but a common aviator, Capt. Laurence.

Pressured by China with the gloomy spectre of a Chinese alliance with France,  Laurence’s superiors force him and Temeraire to go with the delegation back to China.

Through the perils of a long voyage, Temeraire finally arrives in a country where dragons are treated like humans, with rights to education, property, and remuneration.  Chinese dragons also have a social stratification according to breed and have the chances of gaining wealth or falling into poverty as much as any human.

For Temeraire, his life in China as a Celestial is every dragon’s dream; but, China is not all that ideal after all, for diabolical plans are afoot.

The Review :

Throne of Jade sees much more action. The story takes a on a faster pace than the first book as  Novik throws in a lot more danger for all characters involved.

She injects a lot of humor, too, about 19th century British exposure to the Orient, making her characters have a lot of droll moments coming to terms with unfamiliar things like chopsticks and century eggs.

Novik successfully mimics the dry, genteel British verbal and writing style of the early 19th century which has a tendency to downplay or understate everything, even such incidents as death, danger, etc.  so that the full emotional impact is not felt and comes across as trivialized.  Injury to a crew member, for instance doesn’t seem to be of importance; however, emotional emphasis is given when the principal characters, Temeraire and Capt. Laurence are at stake.

Throne of Jade makes one immediately reach for Black Powder War, the third book of what promises to be an exciting series.

My Mark :  Very Good

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Author : Lee Child

Release Date : April 26, 2005

According to a guy I met at the bookstore, I’d be doing myself a favor by picking up this book.  Well, why not, I said to myself, it’s on sale and it’s got all these glowing reviews by Newsweek, New York Times, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times,…

I was sadly disappointed.  The book did not live up to the hype.  Maybe I was just too ill (had a fever at the time I was reading it) to appreciate it or I was expecting too much from it.

I liked the beginning pages, though.  It was the middle part—where the hero, Reacher and his lieutenant, Summer, investigates the crimes — that left me flat and bored.

I had to read on though, because the good part might just be toward the end.  I was, in part, right. The end was a surprise as the hero, Reacher, does something I never expected a hero to do.  So, that was OK.

But overall, the characters were all too remote —so stingy with emotions.  It’s as if they actually reveled in their stoicism.  Maybe the author has this “macho thing”.   For instance, Reacher and Summer have sexual relations in the story but as the case closes, Reacher never sees nor hears from her again? Huh? What ever happened to cellphones and e-mails?  It’s not as if the story was set in the 50’s.

Oh well, the book was not a total waste of time.  The author peppers it with interesting bits of trivia on weapons, tanks, etc.   These made up for the book’s rather dull characters.

Entertainment Weekly commented, “[Child] emerges as a worthy successor to Tom Clancy. ”  I’ve read Tom Clancy and enjoyed him immensely.  I don’t think Lee Child’s style comes very close to Tom Clancy’s power to thrill.  But then, this is the first novel I’ve read by this author.  So perhaps his other lauded work, The Persuader, might just get me to change my mind.

My Mark : Mediocre