This fantastic second volume of the Temeraire series opens with Captain Will Laurence facing off against members of the British military and representatives of the Chinese emperor over the fate of the dragon Temeraire, who has, up until this point, valiantly defended England from Napoleon's military might. However, this is about to change.

The Chinese are demanding that Temeraire -- or, as they know him, Lung Tien Qian -- be repatriated to China unaccompanied by Laurence. Laurence and Temeraire quite rightly refuse this demand and, eventually, the Chinese allow Laurence to accompany Temeraire on his return to his ancestral land. Upon arrival, it soon becomes clear that Chinese and English notions of proper treatment of dragons are very much at odds, and Laurence's realization that dragons should be treated as free creatures is a highlight of the book.

Once again, Novik has created a cracking good story jam-packed with interesting ideas and wonderful characters. Her characterization is note-perfect and Temeraire remains one of the most interesting dragons ever to grace the printed page. (May, 425 pp., $7.50)
Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs