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Crucible Of Gold

Otherwise entitled "Incoherent Temeraire Flailing". For I have new Temeraire! Somehow they managed to sneak out a new book without me knowing anything about it. I did vaguely know that there was one due in 2012, but I had never thought to look for it as early as March. And then suddenly my very nice American friend was asking me if I wanted to borrow his copy, as I always wait for the British version (nicer covers - these things are important). So I not only had surprise!dragons, but I also had seriously awesome dragons. This all made for a highly unproductive weekend.

But to Crucible Of Gold. This may be the best installment of this series since Black Powder War, always the gold standard of Temeraire in my opinion. In many ways of course this new book mirrors that one, with overseas travel, new and exotic characters, and fighting. It's a good template, let's be honest. So, what's all this about Temeraire, I hear you cry (or not). Well, briefly... dragons, wars, guns, swords, sailing ships, treasure, fighting, more dragons, brief attempts at diplomacy, more dragons, diplomatic dragons, more fighting, wholesale cow slaughter. Everything you need for a good story, basically (except possibly the cow thing). I got hooked on the series back when the third one came out in paperback, and I bought all three at once. Or was it four? I don't know, I have no memory. It doesn't matter. It's all good. I admit that book #6, Tongues Of Serpents, was rather a disappointment, with too little happening, and too much that just seemed pointless. No worries of Crucible Of Gold being similar though. Aerial battles! Feathered Incan dragons! Gratuitous Granby abuse! Erm, and unexpected dragon sex is unexpected. Also sharks and crocogators, a massive explosion, and where is my Temeraire mini-series please, Peter Jackson? I want it now.

So, accompanied by faithful companion Granby (and slightly less faithful companion Iskierka), Laurence (human) and Temeraire (dragon) set sail across the Pacific from Australia to Brazil, get slightly distracted en route, and wind up having adventures high in the Andes with an Incan empress and a lot of dragons. Then they press on to Brazil, and have adventures in the jungle, on a beach, in the sea, and in the town, largely with dragons. I pretty much loved every minute of it, so the wait for book #8 is now going to be infuriating. Maybe it'll sneak up on me unexpectedly, like this one did. That would be nice.

Favourite bits... Kulingile being Kulingile; Hammond; Hammond and his unexpected dragon; Hammond and his tea - and anything involving Iskierka and Granby, basically. I can't remember the last time I became so thoroughly fond of a character in a book as I am of Captain Granby. And now he has a hook for a hand, which is somehow even cooler. Granby can't use a gun aboard Iskierka, as she's a fire-breather, and might inadvertently explodify him, so he has to have a sword instead. So now he has a sword, a hook, and a pirate dragon. I am seriously going to need a Granby and Iskierka spin-off someday, Naomi Novik, should you be chancing to read this, because really.

Loved Iskierka's plans to round up women for Granby to have children with. Not sure why she's so set on that. I think she just wants more humans. Also loved her determination to marry him off to the empress, even though (as it turns out, to nobody's great surprise) he doesn't like women in that way. I'm not sure if it says more about Granby or the readership of this series that we were all confidently expecting him to out himself sooner rather than later, and it was lovely when he did. Just as there has to be a bit in each book when Granby cheats death by a whisker, there also has to be a bit where Laurence dies of embarrassment, and this was it. Apparently Granby used a massively anachronistic term to describe himself there, which has annoyed some fans, but I confess I know little of early nineteenth century gay culture. Oddly that never came up when I studied this period in school (a shame, as my history teacher at the time was in fact gay, but there you are). Clause 28, how we don't miss you. Where was I? Oh, Laurence dying of embarrassment. When Granby's sometime boyfriend (earlier outed by Iskierka's splendid lack of tact) turned up, and Laurence then had to spend the rest of the evening pointedly not noticing anything, I was ridiculously overjoyed. Also, on a completely different note, I never knew that being beheaded by an alligator could be so funny. Gods, but that scene was wonderful. All in all, I haven't had so much fun reading a book in a long time.

More please, now. Thank you muchly.

(And perhaps more Lien next time would be nice, if at all possible. Also Tharkay. And swords).

PS: Huzzah!

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