League of Dragons (Temeraire)
by Naomi Novik
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345522924
Date: 14 June 2016 List Price $28.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The war against Napoleon reaches its conclusion in the last Temeraire novel. The fate of dragons and the world are on the line as the scale of the French breeding program is revealed. There may be one chance to defeat the French, but it may be hopeless as the weight of losses and war bear down on the British and their allies.
Temeraire has often gotten Lawrence into tight spots through impulsive action. This time around, a threat to his egg with Iskierka, sends Temeraire rushing back towards China. But the path is dangerous and not everyone is kindly disposed to dragons. An encounter with an old friend starts Lawrence onto the path of a final conflict with Napoleon's forces and Lien.
Although he loves Lawrence, Temeraire is not pleased with the treatment of dragons in Britain. Lien has convinced the French to follow the Chinese model of husbandry and treatment. This better treatment makes the French seem to be a better bargain for dragons. Parliament is slow to move forward on dragon rights. Without greater concessions, the war will be lost.
This is the ninth and final volume of the series that details an alternate set of Napoleonic Wars. The adventures span the world. Each volume brings a little more of the world into focus. At each stop more is learned about dragon society and treatment. The final volume focuses on Europe's advancement of dragon rights.
As in any world, there are people who are not willing to change, and others willing to change for power. The cost of stagnation is high, but some are willing to lose everything rather than admit they were wrong. Fate depends on the willingness of those in between the extremes to accept and push for change. Lawrence epitomizes this place. He comes from a hidebound part of society, was in the Navy, by happenstance comes to bond with a dragon. He has to overcome his prejudices but also he needs to act as a counter to the more radical idealist portrayed by his dragon. He sees the unfairness of the situation and ultimately must decide if France or Britain should lead the way.
As a concluding volume of a long running series this is not a launching point for new readers. The whole series is worth reading. Fans of Napoleonic Era novels will find a lot to enjoy here. I find the series much better than Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I recommend people take the time to pick up the series and see the world through the eyes of a dragon and his best friend.