Review: League of Dragons

Cover of League of DragonsI’ve been reading the Temeraire series since high school and have reread most of the books multiple times. They are so fun! Plus Temeraire and Laurence are by far my favourite buddy/companion characters in literature. The Temeraire series also has a special place in my heart because a dear friend introduced them to me.  I always remember that connection when I pick up one of the books. So, when Novik announced that League of Dragons would be the final book in the series, it was quite bittersweet for me. Even so, you can’t have a series last forever and I was looking forward to seeing how the story would end.

Summary

League of Dragons returns to Napoleonic-era Europe to find Temeraire and Laurence hot on Napoleon’s heels after his defeat in Russia. Demoralized by his escape, the duo faces greater troubles when they learn the French have stolen Temeraire’s egg. Together, they must overcome dragons, armies, and tumultuous political landscapes in order to get the egg back and stop Napoleon for good.

Let’s get into it

Oh Naomi Novik, will you ever write something I don’t like? Probably not.

League of Dragons is everything I wanted from the series’ conclusion. It’s fun, has great characters, and includes all the wonderful dialogue I’ve grown to expect. There’s a bit of residual awkwardness from the events of the last novel, but for the most part Temeraire and Laurence are back to being the caring companions they’ve always been.

What makes this book different from the others is that both lead characters have quite a lot more responsibility this time around. Given their past, their leadership roles cause a good deal of conflict. These disputes build well on the dragonic rights themes present throughout the series. I particularly enjoyed Temeraire’s sway over other dragons. The political ramifications of his beliefs and Laurence’s support of them are truly interesting to read. Plus the humour that arises within conversations between dragons (and officers trying to figure them out) never ceases to amuse me.

True to form, Novik maintains a good balance of action. There are fight scenes and daring flights along with less high action, but equally entertaining, scenes at coverts, on the road, and at dinners. I really can’t say enough about the world Novik has created. Sure it’s based on history, but her additions of dragons and aviators are so complete and well thought out. She deserves all the credit I can give her.

With a fantastic retelling of history, you kind of have to resign yourself to knowing how the story will end. (Not-really-a-spoiler: Napoleon loses.) Still, Novik manages to include enough to keep you reading. As I neared the conclusion, I sort of hoped she’d forget history just so I could have more story, but I am ultimately satisfied with the way things ended. It left me content to imagine the characters beyond the ends of the series, living out their lives. I want to say more, but I’ll refrain so you have a chance to read it yourselves.

Final verdict: League of Dragons is an excellent conclusion to an excellent series. While I will always welcome more stories from the Temeraire universe, I feel I couldn’t ask for more. Fantasy readers, if you haven’t already do go and check out Novik.

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