This is the sixth Temeraire novel, and it is substantially different to those that have come before it, although it is somewhat similar to Empire of Ivory in a way. Laurence and Temeraire have been transported to Australia for treason, along with a few other characters, to start up a dragon-covert in Sydney Cove with three eggs, as there are few local humans, and no local dragons at all. They are sent off to survey the Blue Mountains and find a pass, and have a look for local smugglers. Of course, this ends up turning into a trip across the country, as given away by the map inside the front cover.
At one point there is talk of Laurence and Temeraire taking up privateering and preying on French ships in the East Indies trade, and I must say I would have much preferred to read that novel. I assume thought that this book is basically one - perhaps two - huge plot points for the final trilogy of Temeraire stories. Ok, but did it need all 350 pages to cover those off? Couldn't something else - possibly even something interesting - have happened as well as all that?
The story hums along well enough, but you get to the end and are still really waiting for something to happen. For a series with flying war-dragons and air-to-air combat as a selling point, there is none of that on show here. If you have enjoyed the first five books, read on and try to enjoy this, but don't expect much in the way of fireworks this time around. Its not as good as the first three books, but maybe this is some necessary legwork for a big finale, rather than books 7-9 being more of the same.
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