Tag Archives: Napoleonic wars

Friday Faceoff – Every great story seems to begin with a snake… #Brainfluffbookblog

Standard

This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is SNAKES, so I’ve selected a book from one of my favourite series, Tongues of Serpents – Book 6 of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik.

 

This edition was produced by Del Rey in July 2010 and features two snakelike dragons entwined around a porthole showing a ship. I really like the rippled sand as a backdrop, but I do think the fonts are very boring, given what an amazing premise this series offers.

 

Published in June 2011 by Voyager, this is the cover of the book that I read. I confess to loving this series with the black and white etched illustrations relating to incidents within the book and featuring amazing dragons. I also like the coloured font that is in keeping with the strong period feel of the cover and nicely pops against the black and white. This is my favourite.

 

Produced by Pocket in March 2013, this French edition follows the theme of the dragon coiled around a porthole or some sort of orb. I love the font – I think it works beautifully and picks up the gilding around the porthole very effectively. However, the stormy backdrop isn’t sufficient foil to the dark crimson/brown dragon and while those half-furled wings are wonderful, I’d rather the head was more of a feature. I’m also rather distracted by the shadow of the dragon against the clouds – surely that shouldn’t be happening?

 

This German edition, published by Penhaligon Verlag in 2010, is my favourite of all the similar designs where a dragon is coiled around some sort of globe. For starters, this dragon looks properly fierce and I love the way it has grasped the patterned globe, which is also beautifully patterned in colours that contrast very well with the hot reds and oranges of the dragon and the scaled background – another nice feature. It was so nearly my favourite, but I found the font both plain and a poor contrast to the rest of the cover.

 

This Polish edition, published by Rebis in October 2010 is the cover that gave me the chance to actually choose this book. Instead of dragons, we have two snakes battling on this cover. While it all looks very dramatic, I’m not sure the snakes are all fully in proportion – it seems one of them is rather on the short side, but perhaps the hidden part of the body conceals several coils… Once again, that rippled sand effect is a great backdrop, but disappointingly this Polish cover has gone down the route of also duplicating the very dreary, if clear, font from the Del Rey cover. Which is your favourite?

Advertisements

Sunday Post – 4th September

Standard

Sunday PostThis is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Firstly, a massive thank you for all the kind encouraging messages I received last week. I was blown away by everyone’s kindness. As for the situation – it isn’t going to sort itself out in a hurry, but at least I now don’t feel quite so overwhelmed. Regarding my mega-rewrite, I managed to complete the first draft in the early hours of Monday morning. I haven’t yet returned to look at it in detail – I need to get some distance from the words before I start the editing round – but my sense is that the book is tighter and sharper. I shed 12,000 words from the manuscript, so it is certainly leaner. In the meantime, I’m cracking on with my course notes for the beginning of term later this month.

My summer break is definitely over. I attended a training session at Northbrook College on Tuesday afternoon and my wonderful friend, Mhairi, came over for the day on Wednesday, offering tea and sympathy on industrial quantities. We even managed to get some work done.

This week-end I’m back in granny mode as the grandchildren have come to stay for the last time before they restart school, along with my niece so we have a houseful. Lovely! Now all we need is the rain to stop…

This week I’ve only managed to read:
League of Dragons – Book 9 of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
The deadly campaign in Russia has cost both Napoleon and those allied against him. Napoleon has been leagueofdragonsdenied his victory…but at a terrible price. Lawrence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the fleeing French army back west, but are demoralized when Napoleon makes it back to Paris unscathed. Worse, they soon learn that the French have stolen Termeraire and Iskierka’s egg. Now, it is do or die, as our heroes not only need to save Temeraire’s offspring but also to stop Napoleon for good!

I’ve loved this Napoleonic alternate history series, where dragons are pressed into service in the battle between the French and British armies as troop carriers and bombers. In League of Dragons Novik has brought Temeraire’s adventures back full circle to the European theatre of war and finished the dragon’s story arc in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of this series, it comes highly recommended.

 

 

The Changelings by Christina Soontornvat
thechangelingsIzzy’s family has just moved to the most boring town in the country. But as time goes on, strange things start to happen; odd piles of stones appear around Izzy’s house, and her little sister Hen comes home full of stories about the witch next door. Then, Hen disappears into the woods. She’s been whisked away to the land of Faerie, and it’s up to Izzy to save her. Joined there by a band of outlaw Changelings, Izzy and her new friends set out on a joint search-and-rescue mission across this foreign land which is at turns alluringly magical and utterly terrifying.

This entertaining children’s offering is a delight, with a strong fast-paced story, appealing protagonist and sufficient twists to keep me reading far later than I should to discover what happens. I shall be reviewing this book in the coming week.

 

 

My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 28th August

Review of League of Dragons – Book 9 of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik

Teaser Tuesday – featuring The Changelings by Christina Soontornvat

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Thousandth Floor – Book 1 of The Thousandth Floor series by Katherine McGee

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Unraveled – Book 15 of the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep

Friday Faceoff – Hell is Empty and All the Demons Are Here… featuring The Amulet of Samarkand – Book 1 of The Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud

The Versatile Blogger Award

Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Harry Potter Month (30) https://lynns-books.com/2016/08/30/harry-potter-month-30/
Lynn has unearthed this very amusing piece of nonsense which had me giggling…

10 x 10 + 1 = The 101th Dalmation – Give it a sniff –
http://marelithalkink.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/10-x-10-1-101th-dalmation-give-it-sniff.html?spref=tw This amusing and accomplished post by Mareli was to celebrate her 100th blog post. With material like this, no wonder her blog is growing so fast…

Calling All Applicants – http://writerunboxed.com/2016/08/30/calling-all-applicants/
Steven James writes a wry article about the joys of writing..

How to Plan Your Glacier National Park Family Vacation Including the Best Hikes for YOU, Camping and Relaxing – https://roamwildandfree.com/2016/08/31/how-to-plan-your-glacier-national-park-family-vacation-including-the-best-hikes-for-you-camping-and-relaxing/ Yes – I’ll grant you the title doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, but once more Becca and Alex demonstrate their experience and common sense approach to travelling – along with breathtaking pics…

Presumptions https://jeanleesworld.com/2016/09/01/presumptions/ Jean writes an honest, unsentimental account suffused with love on the challenges she faces bringing up a daughter and twin boys. And the writing is wonderful, too…

Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

Review of League of Dragons – Book 9 of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik

Standard

League of Dragons is the final book in this remarkable series, set in Napoleonic times, where dragons are roaming the world in significant numbers, both in feral groups or domesticated. And in their gritted struggle, the English and French are using dragons to wage war on each other. The series starts with Temeraire when a very special egg Captain Laurence is transporting on his ship suddenly starts to hatch… And as the hatchling immediately bonds with Laurence, his naval career is abruptly over and he finds himself seconded to the less prestigious Dragon Corps. I’m not good at following long-running series, but I fell in love with Temeraire and have made a point of reading every book. The first four books predate my blog, so my reviews start with Victory of Eagles, the fifth book in the series.

leagueofdragonsThe deadly campaign in Russia has cost both Napoleon and those allied against him. Napoleon has been denied his victory…but at a terrible price. Lawrence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the fleeing French army back west, but are demoralized when Napoleon makes it back to Paris unscathed. Worse, they soon learn that the French have stolen Termeraire and Iskierka’s egg. Now, it is do or die, as our heroes not only need to save Temeraire’s offspring but also to stop Napoleon for good!

So does this final episode satisfactorily wrap up the story, tying up all the loose ends and give us a suitable conclusion to the adventures Temeraire and Laurence have endured? Oh yes. Inevitably over such a long-running series, the quality of the stories will vary. But League of Dragons is back in the original theatre of war that caused all the initial mayhem. And the book starts during the closing stages of the terrible defeat Napoleon’s army suffered at the hands of the Russians – only in this version there are brutalised, starving dragons in the mix…

I was immediately sucked into the story, enjoying the blend of fact and fiction Novik weaves around this grim chapter in European history – and enjoying the warm relationship between Laurence and Temeraire all over again. Novik is a highly accomplished writer, who manages to give us a strong sense of 19th century sensibilities and customs without lapsing too much into the flowery, highly descriptive writing style of the time. I also love the humour that runs through the book engendered by the draconic desire for a hoard and decoration. In some of the books, when the pair have been stranded on the other side of the world, fighting for their lives, that humour hasn’t been in such evidence. It was also lovely to meet up with some of the original supporting characters, again.

There are some wonderful battle scenes, alongside the ongoing drama as to whether Napoleon will prevail in his vision of dividing the world up into draconic territories to bribe the majority of the world’s dragonkind to support his campaign in Europe. I whipped through this book in just over two days, reluctant to put it down as I was engrossed in the story, really caring for the two of them – and genuinely concerned that Novik might just have them go out in a blaze of glory… As it happens, the ending is entirely satisfactory and while I’m sad to think I won’t again be pulled back into this vivid, engrossing world, I’m delighted it was so successfully concluded.

My firm recommendation is to go back to the beginning of this enjoyable, original series and start there – I really wish I could join you and do it all over again…
10/10

Review of Blood of Tyrants – Book 8 in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik

Standard

I have enjoyed this unusual alternate history series for two reasons – firstly, I’m a sucker for dragons and secondly, Novik’s handling of the main characters has been imaginative and skilful. She has managed to provide Termeraire and Laurence with a variety of challenges and different landscapes as they have roved across the planet trying to survive, or halt Napoleon’s ambition. See my review of Victory of Eagles here, my review of Tongues of Serpents here and my review of Crucible of Gold here.

Shipwrecked in Japan, along with no memory, Laurence quickly draws attention and becomes untangled (sic) in political intrigues blood of tyrantsthat could not only prove deadly to him, but also destroy England’s position in the Far East. Old enmities and suspicions have turned the region into a powder keg, and Temeraire’s search for his captain may unwittingly ignite the gunpowder, providing new enemies for Britain just when they most desperately need friends. Napoleon has turned on his former ally, Emperor Alexander, and is leading an army of unimaginable size to the gates of Moscow.

And there you have most of the back cover blurb – complete with spelling blooper… Shame on the editor who let that through – if traditional publishers cannot even provide a faultless cover, they are thoroughly letting down their authors. However, in fairness, I don’t recall seeing any mistakes within the reasonably long book. But then I was seriously engrossed in the story…

This is, for my money, one of the best instalments in this long-running series for a long time – and as you’ll see from my reviews, this isn’t to say that any of the books have been bad. But I loved the opening, which immediately took us away from the familiar scenario. And while Laurence and Temeraire have been separated in the past, Laurence’s amnesia takes him back in time to before he met and bonded with Temeraire – so the crisis in their relationship is that Laurence isn’t even aware of what he has lost. As ever, Novik’s restrained 19th century feel in her prose still managed to depict all the emotional undercurrents which means that I really care about the protagonists and remain hooked by the storyline.

I love Temeraire, anyhow – the impulsive, hot-headed nature of the dragons always comes across very clearly. But if you haven’t read this series before – don’t begin at this point, go back to the first book Temeraire – while Novik is far too skilful to keep any stray readers adrift for long, there is so much enjoyable, riveting backstory you are denying yourself if you plunge in that this point in the narrative arc. However, while listening to Temeraire squabbling with Iskierka may lull you into a sense of their charming contrariness – seeing how the Russian ferals behave also provides an insight into why the Russian military treat their dragons with such savagery. It comes from fear…

This book tips into the beginning of one of the most remarkable and terrible times in history – Napoleon’s foray into Russia. This dragon-added version is no less gripping – and those of you who may have some knowledge of the historical facts will appreciate Novik’s exhaustive research and clever weaving of fact with fiction that has been the hallmark of this series. As for me – I was bitterly disappointed when the book came to the end, which is always a symptom of a really good read – and very much looking forward to the next slice of Laurence and Temeraire’s adventures. If you haven’t come across this series, I highly recommend it.
10/10

Review of Crucible of Gold – Book 7 of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik

Standard

I finally settled down to read the latest exploits in this entertaining alternative history adventure. Novik’s premise is the Napoleonic Wars that convulsed Europe now have the addition of fighting dragons, but can she continue to provide fresh twists in this long-running series? See my review of Victory of Eagles here

Former Aerial Corps captain Will Laurence and his faithful dragon, Temeraire, have been put out to pasture in Australia – and it seems their part in the war has ended just when they are needed most. The French have invaded Spain, forged an alliance with Africa’s powerful Tswana empire, and brought revolution to Brazil. With Britain’s last desperate hope of defeating Napoleon in peril, the government that sidelined Laurence swiftly offers to reinstate him, convinced that he’s the best man to enter the fray and negotiate peace. So the pair embark for Brazil, only to meet with a string of unmitigated disasters that forces them to make an unexpected landing in the hostile territory of the Incan empire.

Novik has been very smart in the way she has managed to use the on-going war to shift Laurence around the globe. The last book crucible of goldTongues of Serpents – see my review here – had Laurence and Temeraire transported to Australia and enduring the hardship and disgrace of the raw penal colony. However, when Britain is hard-pressed, the authorities have no trouble in reinstating the pair and sending them across the ocean to South America. As ever, events don’t run according to plan – and the twist that overset everything was a complete surprise. It didn’t take long for me to bond once more with Temeraire – I love the high-handed, temperamental dragons and their constant vying for honour amongst each other, along with their devotion to their handlers.

Though once more, the issue of slavery surfaces to create tensions – Laurence is violently against the practice, an unusual stance for a serving officer. There can be a problem in historical adventures when the protagonist’s anomalous views and tastes clash with the time in order to make him sympathetic to modern readers. However, Novik has effectively established where Laurence’s  anti-slavery ideas come from in previous books – while watching Temeraire suffer at the hands of the British Navy, who are reluctant to treat the dragons as anything other than fighting monsters – only serves to harden his attitude. The interesting spin that surfaces in this book, is that in South America the human population has been decimated by smallpox brought in by the Spanish conquistadors, so the local dragons are desperate for more humans, whom they rule and take care of. Increasingly, Temeraire and the other British dragons find this idea appealing…

Novik continues to find intriguing themes within the variety of adventures and hardships she has her intrepid duo endure – and once again I fell right under her spell. Though, whatever you do – don’t start with Crucible of Gold. If you haven’t yet encountered this series and you have ever enjoyed 19th century deeds of derring-do, Novik’s evocation of the time and the fabulous Temeraire are a must-read addition. And I need to track down the next in the series sooner, rather than later.
10/10