Here’s the schedule of chapters for this read along:
- Week 1: Sunday 12th June, Chapters 1-4
- Week 2: Sunday 19th June, Chapters 5-8
- Week 3: Sunday 26th June, Chapters 9-12
- Week 4: Sunday 3rd July, Chapters 13-End
Twitter reading session started at 9pm BST, with the Week 2 chat tonight, and we’re using the hashtag #throneofjade.
Continue past the read more for my thoughts on Week 1…
Week 1! We’re back with Temmy and Laurence, and to my surprise, we’re not picking up at the end of Book 1. Instead, a few months have passed, and everything’s gone to shit.
The Chinese have arrived and want their dragon back. Laurence and Temeraire have been separated for weeks. Laurence is miserable and about to lose his job, Granby is standing up for his doomed squad at risk of his own career, and Captain Roland is back home and keeping an eye on him to make sure Laurence doesn’t do anything stupid.
The first chapter truly was a spectacular way to kick off a sequel: plenty of action and tension; a clear and obvious display of Laurence’s history and fondness for his dragon, as well as his crew’s loyalty; and really smooth exposition covering the events of the previous book.
Chapter One was a heartbreaker, plunging is right into the deep end with Temmie and Will is dire straits again. Which is a lot of nautical metaphors that add to: IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD. Effing Rainbow and One More sum up the heartbreak in further details, if you want to relive that pain.
It was a really flawless way to kick off a sequel, and Chapter Two continued in fine form, with a aerial battle, an injured Will, and the introduction of the badass salt-and-pepper haired dragon surgeon Keynes (who I hope we see more of!). Will’s delirious letter to Temeraire was hilarious.
I love how fiercely, foolishly loyal Granby has become to Will and Temeraire. That character arc has been fascinating to watch, and from the very beginning of the book Granby’s been taking impossible risks for Will: throwing away a reassignment, climbing up the rigging without any hooks to save Will from the French, and then arranging his men between Temeraire and the armed marines. I don’t think Will quite grasps the extent of Granby’s affection for him yet — I’m looking forward to the moment that penny drops (*waves shipping flags*).
There’s a line in chapter two that sums it up perfectly:
Granby’s loyalty was as obstinate as his initial dislike had been, if not more gratifying.
A less satisfying thing about being back with Will Laurence is his continued sexism. He’s still so oddly against Harcourt (a female, twenty-year-old Captain). He calls her formation unimposing, is well-prepared for errors from Harcourt’s flying despite having less flying experience than her, and expresses clear relief when two senior pilots are there to keep an eye on her.
That alone wouldn’t be anything surprising, but at the end of chapter two we meet Hammond: a male, twenty-year-old political aide who’s been sent to help Will navigate foreign customs on his trip to China. Almost as soon as they meet, Will acknowledges that his “willingness to go to China on a moment’s notice [are far from] his only qualifications” — he listens bewildered but rapt as Hammond babbles on about past Chinese-British political relationships, even though the guy can barely speak in clear sentences.
Oh, Will. You daftie.
Chapter Three had some serious political talk that will have long-reaching implications, but Chapter Four BROUGHT BACK REYNES so I’m gonna focus on how cool that chapter was instead. HELLO NEW FAVOURITE. Nothing helps a reader recover from the shock of dragon injury like a grumpy surgeon complaining that Will is being a mother hen.
Predictions for tonight’s read-along? Will’s leg is hella infected, that boy’s coming down with serious blood poisoning. Sun Kai, as the only Chinese dude the narrative actually cares about, will get some character development. Reynes will either treat Will, like a passive-aggressive vet, or Sun Kai will get the Chinese therapists to use alternative medicine on him. The ship will continue on to China, because as exciting as British battles are, there’s no way Novik is missing out on a chance to show us the Chinese breeds and different training styles up-close.
Roland better not get discovered as a woman on-board a navy ship, especially when she’s mourning and fragile, or I’ll be very upset and will personally ring up Captain Roland to get over here with her longwing.