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Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik
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Crucible of Gold (2012)

by Naomi Novik

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Laurence and Temeraire have been living in an isolated part of Australia. It has been a simple and not unpleasant life of agriculture and an odd sort of freedom. But when Hammond arrives from China with a new and unexpected mission for the two they are torn. Laurence is reinstated, but the price is that he travels at once to South America in hopes of reconciling the African dragons Napoleon has shipped over. These angry beasts are in search of their kinsman who have been stolen and shipped overseas to serve as slaves. As a staunch abolitionist, Laurence has strong sympathies with the enemy dragons but he and Temeraire hope to influence a resolution that will see many souls freed.

All seems to have fallen apart when shortly after departure their ship is destroyed by a band of criminal sailors run amok. Stranded in the ocean without hope of reaching land the dragons fly to the point of exhaustion anyway. At the last possible moment they spot a transport and collapse. Alas, it is a French vessel and they are all taken captive. The French as it happens, are also headed to South America but they have a very different diplomatic mission. Deeming the enemy dragons too much of a liability the French maroon them on a desolate island without harness. It is up to the ingenuity of the remaining crew to escape the island and reach the mainland to accomplish their assignment in Rio.

I loved this installment of Temeraire's story and cannot wait to read the next one! ( )
  Juva | Dec 7, 2017 |
This is the seventh book in the Temeraire series. I enjoyed it a lot, on about the same level as the previous books, and definitely more than the sixth one. Unlike the last book, there weren’t as many unlikeable characters and I think that helped. I don’t have too much else to write about -- just a couple comments within the spoiler tags.

I expect that Riley isn’t really dead and will show back up sooner or later. When a fairly significant character dies, it’s usually made more obvious and definite. I won’t be terribly disappointed if I'm mistaken; I don’t much care one way or another except for the sake of the characters who do care. I haven’t cared much for him since his conflicts with Laurence in the earlier books.

I thought Granby was better developed in this book. I enjoyed learning more about him and seeing him play a slightly more prominent role in the story. I also was very happy to see him finally put his foot down with Iskierka. I hope he doesn’t back down in the remaining books.


Even though it took me 9 days to read this, it was only a reflection of my work schedule and not of my enjoyment of the book. I was on a business trip for a little over a week, with many 16-18 hour work days. I read most of this book within three days; the rest of the days involved reading the same paragraphs over and over with my eyes while my brain thought about work until I gave up the attempt. :) ( )
  YouKneeK | Jul 16, 2017 |
While Crucible is more entertaining than Serpents - things happen! There is derring do! Beards! Frenchmen! Feathered dragons! - this feels like a return to a well-established formula, which I have mixed feelings about (it's a fun formula, but formulae are why I don't like franchises). Still, it's a welcome return to form after Serpents... until we hit the third act, where Novik's narrative choices induced such rage that they spoilt my enjoyment of all the fun that had preceded them.

I'll be continuing with this series only because I have excellent reading companions; left to my own devices, this soured me to the point I'd usually revert to Wikipedia recaps to see how (if) the overarching plot resolves.

Full review (with spoilers) ( )
  imyril | Apr 15, 2017 |
I have become very fond of this series by Naomi Novik about the dragon Temeraire and his captain, Laurence, who fought in the Napoleonic wars. In the book before this one Temeraire and Laurence had been banished to Australia for treason. However, in this episode they have been pardoned and reinstated so that they can go to South America to help the Portuguese in Brazil. Accompanying them on the mission are the dragons Iskierka and Kulingilie and their captains plus an English diplomat. Everyone is aboard the ship Allegiance which sails across the Pacific as fast as it can. Disaster strikes when the sailors on board get into the rum ration and start a fire. The ship sinks but the dragons manage to get quite a few of the crew aloft. However, with no navigational charts the distance from the sinking to land is almost too far for the dragons when they spot a ship on the ocean. It is a French vessel bound for the Incan Empire trying to get the Incan Queen to side with them. The English surrender to the French captain who then leaves them on a remote island before they continue on their mission. Many more adventures in South America await Laurence and Temeraire so, of course, they do not stay on the island awaiting the return of the French. Read the book yourself to find out how it ends. I won’t spoil it for you. ( )
  gypsysmom | Mar 11, 2017 |
Following up my re-read round of the first six books in this series, I enjoyed this one more than I did book six originally (it improved on the re-read, but is still not a favourite): it's further travel, this time to and in South America. I think I enjoyed this one more than the book six because it was something of a return to more predominant preoccupation with the Napoleonic wars and to the Navy vs. Aviators culture clash. ( )
  queen_ypolita | Mar 30, 2016 |
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Arthur Hammond prided himself on a certain degree of insensibility in the cause of duty - an indifference to physical discomfort and even to social awkwardness - a squelching of the natural repugnances, when these should interfere with the progress of a diplomatic mission.
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Book description
Naomi Novik’s beloved series returns, with Capt. Will Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire once again taking to the air against the broadsides of Napoleon’s forces and the friendly—and sometimes not-so-friendly—fire of British soldiers and politicians who continue to suspect them of divided loyalties, if not outright treason.  For Laurence and Temeraire, put out to pasture in Australia, it seems their part in the war has come to an end just when they are needed most. Newly allied with the powerful African empire of the Tswana, the French have occupied Spain and brought revolution and bloodshed to Brazil, threatening Britain’s last desperate hope to defeat Napoleon.So the British government dispatches Arthur Hammond from China to enlist Laurence and Temeraire to negotiate a peace with the angry Tswana, who have besieged the Portuguese royal family in Rio—and as bait, Hammond bears an offer to reinstate Laurence to his former rank and seniority as a captain in the Aerial Corps. Temeraire is delighted by this sudden reversal of fortune, but Laurence is by no means sanguine, knowing from experience that personal honor and duty to one’s country do not always run on parallel tracks.Laurence and Temeraire—joined by the egotistical fire-breather Iskierka and the still-growing Kulingile, who has already surpassed Temeraire in size—embark for Brazil, only to meet with a string of unmitigated disasters that leave the dragons and their human friends forced to make an unexpected landing in the hostile territory of the Inca empire, where they face new unanticipated dangers.Now with the success of the mission balanced on a razor’s edge, and failure looking more likely by the minute, the unexpected arrival of an old enemy will tip the scales toward ruin. Yet even in the midst of disaster, opportunity may lurk—for one bold enough to grasp it.
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"Naomi Novik's beloved series returns, with Capt. Will Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire once again taking to the air against the broadsides of Napoleon's forces and the friendly--and sometimes not-so-friendly--fire of British soldiers and politicians who continue to suspect them of divided loyalties, if not outright treason. For Laurence and Temeraire, put out to pasture in Australia, it seems their part in the war has come to an end just when they are needed most. Newly allied with the powerful African empire of the Tswana, the French have occupied Spain and brought revolution and bloodshed to Brazil, threatening Britain's last desperate hope to defeat Napoleon. So the British government dispatches Arthur Hammond from China to enlist Laurence and Temeraire to negotiate a peace with the angry Tswana, who have besieged the Portuguese royal family in Rio--and as bait, Hammond bears an offer to reinstate Laurence to his former rank and seniority as a captain in the Aerial Corps. Temeraire is delighted by this sudden reversal of fortune, but Laurence is by no means sanguine, knowing from experience that personal honor and duty to one's country do not always run on parallel tracks. Laurence and Temeraire--joined by the egotistical fire-breather Iskierka and the still-growing Kulingile, who has already surpassed Temeraire in size--embark for Brazil, only to meet with a string of unmitigated disasters that leave the dragons and their human friends forced to make an unexpected landing in the hostile territory of the Inca empire, where they face new unanticipated dangers. Now with the success of the mission balanced on a razor's edge, and failure looking more likely by the minute, the unexpected arrival of an old enemy will tip the scales toward ruin. Yet even in the midst of disaster, opportunity may lurk--for one bold enough to grasp it"--… (more)

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