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Book Report: Victory of Eagles

Gentle Readers will remember that I’ve been reading the Napoleonic dragon series by Naomi Novik, and that I had been warning myself against reading them too quickly. Like that was going to work.

I suppose it might have, if I hadn’t come across Victory of Eagles on the new books shelf at the local public library. I certainly wasn’t going to buy it in hardback, and it doesn’t come out in paperback until late spring, by which time plenty of time would have passed. What? I could have just walked past the shelf and not picked it up, or brought it home and not read it? Who are you? How did you get in here?

Sorry about that. Anyway, I did enjoy Victory of Eagles, albeit not as much, probably, as I would have after a good long break away from the series. I was worried that most of the book would be taken up with political/legal machinations, with the effects on the characters of their actions, and how everybody felt about all that. Whew! Ms. Novik does clearly believe in character development, and series arc, and all that, and there are a couple of draggy bits where Laurence is all angsty and covered in malaise and nobody likes him and everybody hates him and he’ll just be in the backyard, eating worms and saying everything flatly. But there is ass-kicking to done, and we can’t just mope around listening to some sort of early-nineteenth-century Morrisey (although we can, presumably, wear black eye-liner) when the French are being so foreign and un-British. Well, and invading. Which is just like them.

I suspect that a lot of the people who liked the military fiction aspect of the earlier books will be a tad disappointed in this one, not because of the lack of action but because the action is largely skirmishes and described experientially. There are Big Battles, but those may disappoint some people as well—I know there was a substantial subset of people for whom the first book was what if there had been an air force in the Napoleonic wars?, with explorations of the strategies and whatnot. As more of the dragons become full-fledged (or even mostly-fledged) characters of their own, the Air Corps has stopped acting like an Air Force whose planes happen to be alive and sentient, and more like, well, a bunch of dragons and humans. Which change is one of the arcs over the series, and is quite clearly deliberate, but means that the dragons’ involvement in battles (on land and sea) is very different in this book than in His Majesty’s Dragon.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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