Premise: The Chinese have come to demand their stolen dragon back. And the British Empire seems inclined to kowtow to their demands. Laurence defies them when he refuses to lie to Temeraire just to make his kidnapping back to China any easier. In the end, there is no choice but to take him along as well.
Review: Still in the midst of the war with France, Laurence and Temeraire are forced to leave their friends and embark on a long ship voyage to China. Yet within days, there are problems, their ship is unexpectedly attacked, series of seeming accidents. And when they reach China itself, there is the issue of the totally unexpected and different treatment of dragon kind in the Asian country – here, dragons can own property, shop, walk the streets. They even are allowed to mature for a time before choosing their human companion. With Temeraire’s exposure to the slave trade on the way there and then his education of how dragons are treated in China, Laurence finds himself in the midst of questions and moral issues he never had thought of or expected. Worse, he finds himself the continued target of assassination attempts. Will they be able to find a resolution to the dilemma of Temeraire keeping Laurence as his companion, or is the decision to be taken from their hands and made for them?
As with His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik continues weaving a wonderful world mired in our historical past, but integrated with dragons as a norm. It was a lot of fun watching her show us the clashing of two distinct cultures not only on the human but also dragon level. Thoroughly enjoyed this second romp into this world. ***3/4.