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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes You Want Part Four
Black Powder War is the third novel in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, following the adventures of the eponymous dragon and his 'Captain', Lawrence, during the Napoleonic Wars of an alternative 19th Century where dragons are real and live, mostly, in harmony with mankind.

Along with the two books that proceed it, Temeraire (aka His Majesty's Dragon) and...
Published on 6 Mar 2007 by C. Green

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An insubstantial interlude
From the very outset of this third book in the saga of Temeraire the dragon, I found myself distinctly unengaged by the material and far less engrossed by this story in comparison to the previous two. Consequently, the largely stellar reviews here surprise me more than a little...

Even if you're immediately aware and pleased by the fact that this series acts as...
Published on 20 Nov 2008 by Fantasy Lore


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes You Want Part Four, 6 Mar 2007
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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Black Powder War is the third novel in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, following the adventures of the eponymous dragon and his 'Captain', Lawrence, during the Napoleonic Wars of an alternative 19th Century where dragons are real and live, mostly, in harmony with mankind.

Along with the two books that proceed it, Temeraire (aka His Majesty's Dragon) and Throne of Jade, Black Powder War is the latest episode of an ongoing story. As such it is not the place for uninitiated readers to start. Go read Temeraire and Throne of Jade. Both are wonderful, evocative and exciting adventure novels bursting with great ideas.

For those already familiar with Temeraire and his adventures to date the question will be 'is Black Powder War as good as the books that proceeded it?'. The answer is....not quite.

Don't misunderstand me; this is still a wonderfully enjoyable book and deserving of four stars. What it doesn't do however, is quite measure up to its predecessors and this is due, mostly to issues of plotting.

With both previous Temeraire novels there was a sense of self-containment, even if they were just episodes in an onging saga. With Black Powder War by contrast, the episodic feeling is definitely to the fore and the book feels more like a transitionary tale rather than a self contained story. Mostly this is down to the story being split into very distinct halves; the first covering Temeraire's journey overland through Asia from China and the second his involvement with Napoleon's Eastern Campaign against the Prussians. Whilst both halves are related it is only loosely and they feel like two separate episodes rather than parts of a uniform whole.

The episodic feel continues through the narrative of the second half of the book, which is far busier this time, with multiple 'real life' battles & other events to contend with. Consequently it jumps around in an effort to keep events moving on at a pace. The transitionary nature of the book is then reinforced by an ending which, although unexpected and interesting, is very much open-ended.

All this results in a book that is less satisfying that either of Temeraire's earlier adventures. Its flaws aren't great enough however, to detract greatly from its strengths. As with the two previous books pimary amongst these is characterisation, with all of the principles from Temeraire, to Lawrence and on to the other members of his crew developing further as interesting individuals. Even the supporting cast, from Prussian Officers to members of the Turkish Sultan's Court to a bunch of fantastic feral mountain dragons are provided with depth so that they don't merely become dramatic devices there to service the plot.

A plot that as mentioned previously is far more complex than the previous efforts, especially in the latter half. Whilst the early stages dealing with the land crossing from China and an enforced stay in Turkey are relatively simple, linear affairs, once Temeraire and his crew cross into Austria and then head north towards Prussia things become far more complicated. Drawn back into the Napoleonic War, both Dragon and author must navigate the constantly shifting fortunes of war. For Temeraire and his crew this is difficult enough so far from home. For Novik it is a larger challenge. Whereas in previous novels she was free to invent her own narrative here she must craft fiction around real military events whilst keeping the reader's attention and understanding. That she does a credible job of both is a testament to her talent as a writer.

That she also manages to include new details of the world she has created amongst the constantly shifting narrative is also a great acheivement. This is another of the series strengths and she doesn't forget it, introducing new concepts such as feral dragons whilst making them seem utterly normal and conceiving further differences in cultural attitudes towards dragons for the Prussians and the Ottomans. It is such incidental details that gives all three books such a feeling of depth and grounds the reality that Novik has created.

It is also one of the many reasons why I am looking forward to the next episode of Temeraire and Lawrence's adventures. Whilst Black Powder War might feel like a bridging episode, moving the story along but not reaching any specific turning point, it hasn't lessened my enjoyment of the series as a whole. Whilst not as satisfying by itself as either of the earlier stories it has however, served its purpose by starting new interesting plot strands and further expanding the Draconian world. Roll on Autumn 07 when Temeraire will fly again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Fantasy! Packed Full Of It!, 8 Jan 2007
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Oh my word...

When an author takes on history, it tends to be a battle of wills from the first.

A battle between the yearning for what could have been and the solid truths of what actually happened.

With a wealth of historical facts at Novik's fingertips, the author produces a richly developed character soup full of reason, treason, gunpowder plots and wings.

The rich tapestry of the Napoleonic Wars and it's possible intrigues are laid out before us with the inclusion of DRAGONS!

I feel if I had been able to read Novik's books during my cramming for history exams, that I may have found more interest in history and achieved a somewhat higher grade!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An insubstantial interlude, 20 Nov 2008
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Fantasy Lore - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Powder War (The Temeraire Series, Book 3) (Paperback)
From the very outset of this third book in the saga of Temeraire the dragon, I found myself distinctly unengaged by the material and far less engrossed by this story in comparison to the previous two. Consequently, the largely stellar reviews here surprise me more than a little...

Even if you're immediately aware and pleased by the fact that this series acts as one large story, and the individual books are only chapters in it (with much less identity as stand-alone novels than is customary for historical fantasy tales of this type) I still feel that `Black Powder War' is woefully slow to start. It has a pace that can only be described as meandering throughout and the lack of big set-pieces that have previously acted to offset Novik's minimal attempts at character exploration are only magnified by this story. The plot is non-existent; it's comprised of one errand that should only have taken a hundred pages at most for Novik to develop. It feels like very slim basis for a novel.

Something else that's difficult to avoid about Novik's style in this story is how poorly she lays the groundwork for climactic events. She rarely creates a feeling of real tension during various plot developments, because she doesn't set-up future events, which results in twists falling flat on the page when they occur. The few number of (relatively) significant incidents in the story feel as if they were designed purely to punctuate long periods of inactivity by Laurence, Temeraire and his crew, ones that have no lasting consequence. Even more so than in `Throne of Jade' (which saw the crew on a ship for a large portion of the story) in this third story it felt to me as if the author didn't know where her story was going, or had perhaps decided to reserve all the really big character and plot developments for some later point in this series. Plus, all these incidents can be attributed to one thing- Laurence's incredibly inept leadership.

So for me personally, while I continue to enjoy this series, `Black Powder War' is one long interlude with very little to distinguish it as a story in it's own right.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Powder War, 2 April 2008
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This review is from: Black Powder War (The Temeraire Series, Book 3) (Paperback)
The third in the "Temeraire" series gives Captain Lawrence and Temeraire an uncertain new mission. In order to accomplish this they must travel from the orient into the deadly territories further west, into the depths of the European continent. Novik continues her alternate history thread to great effect, pulling the characters into darker waters with a guide they don't entirely trust.

As with the previous instalments, the writing is beautifully fluid and expertly constructed. Whatever niggles her narrative had at the start of her career have now been entirely ironed out, leaving the narrative and dialogue very smooth and easy to digest. This novel is not quite as fast-paced as the first two, and the excitement of the title and blurb is a little misleading. This is a much more sedate story but with fine character development and cleverly placed action sequences to keep the story going. Wonderfully paced, but not action-packed - still well worth a read if you enjoyed the earlier books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Missingthepoint, 3 Jan 2007
Unlike the above poster, I don't think that the series was intended to be read as an alternative to our current history, but simply as a fantasy story of an alternative world, which happens to share our own history and have dragons.

Given that, I have found the series very enjoyable, and would reccomend to other fantasy/sci-fi fans. Despite being set in 'our' world, it still brings the same feeling of a different world to be immersed in, unlike some stories set in our world.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stereotyped and superficial, 17 Aug 2010
By 
S. Hartwell (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Powder War (The Temeraire Series, Book 3) (Paperback)
A mishap aboard the dragon transporter leads to an overland foray across the desert (i.e. oases, camels) into the Ottoman Empire to collect some valuable dragon eggs. Novik again resorts to stereotypes (to the point of caricature): the gold-hungry untrustworthy Turkish Sultanate and pedantic German Prussians with inflexible formation flying. A summary of the book would be: Trek across desert, attacked by baddies on horseback, Temeraire saves the day. Captured and imprisioned by greedy Sultan, plucky British raid on harem, Temeraire saves the day. Join beleaguered Prussian troops, attacked by French, Will & Temeraire correct Prussian aerial tactics. Meanwhile, Temeraire is proselytising draconic rights to various European dragons in a thinly disguised anti-slavery lecture.

In a formulaic 350 pages, a region of the world is reduced to a set of stereotypes while draconic rights becomes a slavery metaphor. After a promising first book, the subsequent volumes read like a standard quest story that reads like a dungeons/dragons game. Had this been written in the 1980s it would probably have been picked up by someone like TSR and aimed at young adult role play gamers.

Lightweight books for an undemanding audience. Stereotyped and superficial.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 26 Jun 2014
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Real edge of the seat stuff, excellently written. I particularly like the mix of period detail with the fantasy, and the archaic flow of speech - exactly how they would have spoken then. The mix of fighting dragons in the historical setting of the Napoleonic wars is a stroke of genius. I have bought the entire series and am enjoying them immensely (and reading them back-to-back). Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, 8 Jun 2014
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Novak does it again! Excellent, a great read, good characters and adventures. The mix of real history and fantasy is inspired.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 15 Mar 2014
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Chris (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Was a bit slow in places but worth sticking with. Can not wait for the next one ... And the next
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 30 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Black Powder War (The Temeraire Series, Book 3) (Paperback)
It's a fun and light book. its a jurney diferently discribed and i enjoyed it.
Hopefully she will set a faster pace on the next one,
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Black Powder War (The Temeraire Series, Book 3)
Black Powder War (The Temeraire Series, Book 3) by Naomi Novik (Paperback - 6 Aug 2007)
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