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21 August, 2013
Book Review: Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
Title: Empire of Ivory
Author Naomi Novik
Series: Book 4 of the Temeraire books
Publication date: September 25, 2007
Publisher: Del Ray
It starts with tragic event:. As Captain Lawrence and Temeraire return to England with the rescued Prussian soldiers they discover that tragedy has struck the dragons of the country. An unknown illness, first thought to be a cold has been introduced by a Native American dragon and has turned deadly. Temeraire however, does not contract the illness and in fact is discovered to have had the cold and been cured during his previous trip to China.
Lawrence and Temeraire set off with the ill members of their formation on a journey to Africa to try and find the mushroom that the Imperial chefs made into a tasty stew while they were in Cape Town that might have been a cure for the mystery illness. They are accompanied by a former slave turned missionary and his family who are bound for Africa to try and bring the Christian faith to the people in their former homeland. However, when they get to Cape Town, they find that the mushroom they are seeking is considered bad as it makes the cattle ill and is destroyed by both European settlers and the cattle raising tribes in the area. Their search takes them further into the interior, where they are captured by members of an African tribe that has ancestor ties to the dragons of the land. Worse, the mushrooms that they found are considered property of the King of the tribe.
Will Laurence and Temeraire be able to get back to England with the medicine they require? or will their African captors do them harm before they can trade for the medicines.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I found it captivating. As well I enjoyed the fact that it delved into the issues of slavery and slave trade both for humans as well as dragons. This book also allows for another break from the War being fought by Napoleon (although the end brings us back to the conflict), and allows the reader to explore another part of the world. Africa at the time was being divided up between the Dutch, Portuguese, British and French without any thought for the people already living there. In modern times there are still repercussions to colonization. I enjoyed seeing this alternate look at what might happen if 1. there were dragons to help protect these people and 2. what would happen is they decided enough was enough.