Golden Age and Other Stories
by Naomi Novik
Cover Artist: Sandara Tang
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Subterranean Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596068292
Date: 31 August 2017 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Over the decade that followed the publication of His Majesty's Dragon, legions of fans have flocked to the nine book series which was recently concluded with League of Dragons. Fans have seen Lawrence and Temeraire find success and failure, love and loss, and travel around the world. Their adventures make up but a small part of the world developed by author Novik. Fans of the series get another taste of the world with this collection of six stories and a group of short shorts (drabbles). Each of the stories has a related sketch, each relevant to the accompanying story.
In "Volly's Cow" readers will find out how jealously dragons guard the things they treasure. This story shows some of the growth Temeraire goes through learning to be civilized.
"Planting Season" takes place in America. Fan favorite John Wampanoag is shown in his early dealings with commerce and trade. He goes from simple hauler to much more.
"Dawn of Battle" is set off the coast near Alexandria in the hours before the Battle of the Nile. Jane is in command of Excidium. She must prepare for battle and the challenge to her authority which will decide how her career will go.
In "Golden Age", illness and chance allow dragons get a taste for plunder. Lawrence and Temeraire must end this threat to shipping. It isn't easy to convince a dragon to give up its gold.
The path to leadership can be fraught for both humans and dragons. A pair of Celestial eggs creates a potential crisis in "Succession".
"Dragons and Decorum" shows the difficulty a dragon may cause for its riders when it decides upon a course. That is a constant problem for Lawrence and Temeraire and it is no different for Elizabeth Bennet and Wollstonecraft. This tale of romance is complicated by the wants and desires of a dragon.
There are 26 drabbles included, each with a sketch. Each drabble is on a separate page and gives a little slice of the world the stories are set in.
This was a nice collection of stories. I particularly liked "Planting Season" and "Dawn of Battle". The backstory of Wampanoag was made more interesting by the delve into trade in the Americas. The challenge which Jane faced is a clue into how she became the leader she was in the mainline stories.
As the stories are not dependent upon the action of the mainline stories, people new to this universe will be able to pick up and follow the stories. Longtime fans of the series will find some new stories to enjoy as the main adventures set in the Napoleonic Wars ends.
Temeraire has a special place in my heart. I read it around the same time as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I believe the Temeraire series is far superior to the much acclaimed Suzanna Clarke novel, as Novik doesn't bog readers down with long and pointless footnotes and a slow dull telling of the war against Napoleon. She keeps the action rolling while exploring the rights of sentient beings and the nature of friendship and honor.