Book Review: Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

Posted August 5, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Book Review: Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
Genres: Alternative History, Science Fiction
Published by Del Rey Books on April 25, 2006
Pages: 398
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

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Also by this author: His Majesty's Dragon, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, Tongues of Serpents, Crucible of Gold, Blood of Tyrants

Second in the Temeraire science fiction and alternate history series revolving around a former navy captain and his dragon, Temeraire.

It really needs to be a “7”!

My Take

The start of Throne of Jade will infuriate you!! You’d think the Chinese would have a better handle on a dragon’s temperament when they go after Temeraire. As for Barham…hmph…what a dishonorable fool! Treating Temeraire as an animal! Demanding that Laurence lie! Ya gotta laugh even in your fury as Barham reveals even more what an idiot he is, that he has no idea that dragons are sentient, protective beings.

Which only makes me wonder why the Chinese allow Barham to do any of this???

It impresses me every time how beautifully Novik has created Temeraire’s voice…

Oh, lord, that scene where Barham is trying to arrest Laurence and threatens to tie Temeraire down and Maximus gets curious about why Temeraire needs to be tied down. You will laugh and eagerly read as fast as you can to see what happens next.

I had thought the Chinese too arrogant for words, but then the ship’s dinner came up. Oh. Boy. And it only gets worse. I did enjoy Laurence’s defiance. The whole voyage will be a nasty battle of will, enticement, and insult with Hammond slowly revealing his true colors. There’s also the battle with the sea dragon that finally rehabilitates Temeraire in the crew’s eyes.

And, yes, worse continues when Temeraire and his crew reaches China proper, and it’s only their reverence for Celestial dragons that keeps the men, sort of, safe.

China is an eyeopener for Laurence and Temeraire. The equality dragons enjoy in China, that dragons can write and conduct business, have jobs, create poetry, and purchase goods. You can imagine how excited this all makes Temeraire! Between these experiences and the encounter at sea, a number of philosophical discussions crop up between Temeraire and Laurence that force Laurence to re-think how dragons are viewed and what they suffer in western countries. Laurence’s eyes are further opened by the classes of young dragons and how they are treated compared to those of the West.

No, I don’t believe in that attack at the palace. There have been guards on Laurence and his crew, and all of a sudden they can’t protect them? They disappear and the bad guys get access to them? No, that doesn’t make any sense.

I certainly did not expect either ending! The accommodation that makes everything all right and the choice Temeraire makes. Oh, yeah…now I can’t wait to read Black Powder War!

The Story

Such a lowly soldier cannot possibly be partnered with such a distinguished breed as Temeraire, but Temeraire doesn’t see it that way, and his attitude is quite at odds with Lord Barham’s lack of discernment!

It takes a rebellious, belligerent Temeraire before the Chinese delegation is forced to acknowledge the truth of how they will return Lung Tien Xiang to China where they are confident that Temeraire will realize his true station in society.

Fortunately, or is it unfortunately?, Temeraire’s crew is ordered to accompany him. It will certainly be safer for them after their almost mutiny.

The Characters

Captain Will Laurence is now in the Aerial Corps with Temeraire, a Chinese Celestial dragon with his divine wind, as his partner. Temeraire’s proper Chinese name is Lung Tien Xiang. Lung Tien Qian is his mother. Lung Qin Gao is an Imperial dragon and Temeraire’s father. Gao’s companion is a prince of the third rank. Lord Allendale is Laurence’s disapproving father.

The Admiralty in London
Lord Barham is the officious idiot who is First Lord of the Admiralty.

The Aerial Corps is composed of…
…men and dragons partnered into squadrons. Admiral Powys is there in London. The supportive Admiral Lenton hasn’t broken up Laurence and Temeraire’s crew, which includes Lieutenant John Granby who is refusing any new post. Willoughby and Porter are harness-men; Harley is an ensign; Second Lieutenant Evans; Lieutenant Riggs; Johnson and Miggsy are bellmen; the twelve-year-old Allen, Quarle, and Martin are wingmen; Calloway; Therrowes; Lieutenant Ferris is captain of the topmen who include Croyn, Portis, and Macdonaugh; Digby is the forward lookout; young Emily Roland, Morgan , and Dyer are cadet runners; Dunne is one of the riflemen; Blythe is the armorer’s mate; and, Keynes is Temeraire’s dragon surgeon with Baylesworth as one of his aides.

Captain Chenery and Dulcia and Nitidus partnered with Captain Warren are part of Laurence and Temeraire’s formation along with Sutton on Messoria and Immortalis. Berkeley is partnered with Maximus, a Regal Copper, who has had a growth spurt.

Captain Jane Roland is partnered with Excidium and is Emily’s mother. Sanders is her new first lieutenant. Lloyd is to be put to Obversaria’s egg — she’s the flag dragon, an Anglewing, partnered with Admiral Lenton. Captain Harcourt and Lily are doing much better. Volly is a Greyling courier with Captain Langford James as his partner.

Patson is the gatekeeper at the London covert where the powers-that-be have put Temeraire. Jervis is overseeing Temeraire’s care. Hollin (he’d been a leather worker on Temeraire’s ground crew in His Majesty’s Dragon, 1) and Elsie, a Winchester, are couriers.

The Allegiance is…
…the dragon transport that will return Temeraire and the Chinese delegation to China. One of Laurence’s naval friends, stuck while Reliant is in dry dock, Captain Thomas Riley, will captain the Allegiance. Lord Purbeck is the first lieutenant Franks is the third lieutenant, and Beckett is another lieutenant. Tripp is the youngest midshipman. Garnett is the master. Macready is the Marine lieutenant and his men include Harris. More of the crew includes Jenkins, Harvey, the snotty Reynolds, Leddowes and Eklof are carpenters, Cornell, Sacker is a master’s mate, Dyfydd, and Chervins.


Lung Li Po of the Tang Dynasty was a great poet. The Son of Heaven is the Qianlong Emperor. Lung Tien Chuan is Temeraire’s older twin and the companion of the crown prince, Mianning. Lung Qin Mei is an Imperial female with whom Temeraire is, ahem, consorting. It’s why he forgot the time. Miankai is a young boy whom Yongxing is trying to partner up with Temeraire. Zhao Wei is a functionary at court.

The dangerous De Guignes is the French envoy. His nephew is Lieutenant Jean-Claude De Guignes.

The Chinese delegation is…
…headed by His Imperial Highness Prince Yongxing, the emperor’s brother. We will meet the white Celestial, Lung Tien Lien, who is considered unlucky but a great scholar and partnered with the prince. Sun Kai appears to be the prince’s aide and is quite intelligent…and sneaky. Liu Bao is the older envoy open to new possibilities; he is related to the emperor’s mother and is an official in the Manchu White Banner. Feng Li and Ye Bing are some of the prince’s attendants. Li Honglin is quite adventurous aboard ship.

Arthur Hammond is the diplomat assigned to accompany Laurence and the Chinese delegation back to China. Some years ago, the English envoy to China, Lord Mccartney, had refused to perform the kowtow before the emperor and was forced out of China.

South Africa
General Baird is temporarily in command of Capetown.

Major Heretford is angry over the seizure of the East India Company’s ships captained by Mestis, Holt, and Gregson. Sir George Staunton is the chief of the commissioners and very angry over Chinese treatment of the English.

The Dragons

The English dragons include Angelwings, Regal Coppers, Longwings, Greylings, Xenicas, and Winchesters.

There are very few Celestial dragons: Temeraire’s mother and father; Lien who is with the prince, Grandfather, Chu, Chuan, Ming, and Zhi. They must breed with Imperials to become pregnant. The lower breed of Chinese dragons partner up with women and go into the army. The Emerald Glass are lazy and slow on their tests, and the Scarlet Flower like fighting too much.

The French dragons include the Flamme-de-Gloire, Papillon Noirs, and Fleur-de-Nuit. Accendare is a Flamme-de-Gloire and notorious for her fire.

Canada has its own breeds, including a Dakota. The kiao is a sea dragon.

The abolitionist, Lord Wilberforce, is one of Lord Allendale’s political allies.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a a swirl of malachite greens with a white dragon curled around a pocket watch inset with the image of a Chinese temple. The title is an embossed gold at the top while the author’s name is outlined in black at the bottom.

The title is the ultimate authority in China, the emperor, the Throne of Jade.

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