Friday, January 11, 2008

Lisa's Take - Temeraire Book 3: Black Powder War (Naomi Novik)

Ok, so it took me a little more than a week to finish the 3rd Temeraire book - I blame the holidays. I fear this review is going to be a little light (in addition to being a little late) as any sort of plot review for a 3rd book is edging into spoiler territory. Also, I'm afraid I've committed one of the smaller sins of book-reading... gluttony. I enjoyed this series so much that I tore through it without leaving enough time for the bits to digest, meaning that plot points and pacing are all mooshed up in my head. It doesn't help that this particular "trilogy," while having fairly distinct endings to each of the books as well as a decent amount of closure, tends to pick of really fast where the previous book left off, making them harder to distinguish when I didn't leave any breather room between them.

Without further ado, the major points I wanted to hit on.

Point 1: Temeraire is not nearly as much as a character in this book. He's there, and he has some ideas, and while he's less whiny in this book than he was in the last one, he's... well, just sort of there, as I said when I started this sentence. I felt like he just wasn't as interesting, didn't have as many entertaining aspects, maybe didn't grow as much as in previous books. Who knows. I just didn't quite get the same connection.

Point 2: The rest of the existing characters aren't nearly as much of a character in this book. Grammatically incorrect, but I was going for resonance with the opening of the previous point. Everyone pretty much behaved the same as before, no surprises, few changes. I just wasn't that upset when characters died or were lost or moved on.

Point 3: This is the first book that seemed rather contrived. I called pretty much all the major plot points hundreds of pages before they happened, which is always a bit of a disappointment. At least this book wasn't just another boat ride.

Now, all those points sound pretty harsh, but let me be clear that this book was still delicious and wonderful and entertaining. The new characters that were introduced were quite good and a nice breath of fresh air to keep things moving along. I profess that I waited a little too long to finish this review, so my brain is starting to lose the details - but the book is definitely worth reading, and I'll be turning to the 4th book in the series to break up some of my harder fantasy very soon.

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