Warning: spoilers for previous Temeraire books.
After fulfilling their duties in exploring the continent of Australia, Laurence and Temeraire are content to live quietly on their new homestead, where Laurence is planting a farm and Temeraire is erecting a pavilion. However, an unexpected change of plans occurs when a British diplomat arrives in Australia, bringing word that Laurence has been reinstated as a British officer. Laurence and Temeraire now have orders to travel to the Portuguese colony of Brazil, which is currently under attack by Napoleon’s allies. En route, they encounter many difficulties, including a shipwreck, a mutiny, several unpleasant encounters with the French, and a detour through the vast empire of the Incas.
I really enjoyed this latest installment of the Temeraire series, especially since its predecessor, Tongues of Serpents, was probably my least favorite so far. Novik does have a tendency to turn her books into travelogues, describing every detail of a newly encountered civilization at the expense of furthering the plot. However, in this book there’s plenty of action to accompany the description, and the narrative never loses sight of Laurence and Temeraire’s ultimate objective. It was interesting to see a majority of the book’s events from Temeraire’s point of view, but I actually would have liked to get inside Laurence’s head a bit more. I love both characters, but I’m particularly invested in how Laurence’s story will turn out. As far as I know, there will only be two more books in this series, and I’m very eager to read them and discover what will happen in the end!