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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Review: Throne of Jade

It would have been easy for the follow up to His Majesty's Dragon to be another conventional story about the Napoleonic Wars with Dragons with tactical set-pieces, but Novik cleverly declines and takes us into a completely different direction. We visit the China of that region, but of course, a China completely infused with dragons and with dragons as part of the society.

Throne of Jade starts of with what seems to be a really contrived plot, with the Chinese demanding one of the stars of the first book to return to China. For all sorts of political reasons, our protagonists are bundled onto a boat and shipped off to China. There are some minor adventures on the way, but what's great is upon arrival, we get a view of a society that's completely integrated another sentient species into its society, as opposed to our view from the first novel, which treated dragons effectively as replacements for fighters and bombers.

I thought this was a very clever twist, and wondered how Novik would draw the plot to its conclusion, having written herself into a corner as far as the characters were concerned. Unfortunately, her solution's not very novel, with palace intrigues and betrayals being par for the course, but with some not very believable situations (even given the presence of dragons).

Nonetheless, the book had me engaged all the way to the end. While I don't find myself in a hurry to read Novik's follow on novels in this series, I'd be happy to read them in the future. Mildly recommended.

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