*Warning: Spoilers for the first book and parts of this one are below*
After devouring the previous book, I immediately tracked down the sequel and risked reading it in the car! Yeah, haven't done that in years; turns out the phone screen makes it possible - for short bouts at least. I still feel asleep quickly on the interstate as a passenger.
This was...extremely interesting but at times very frustrating. We'd discovered at that end of the last book that Temeraire is a Celestial Dragon from China. We knew it was a huge deal but this volume drops us into the middle of a diplomatic s***storm. China's dragon population, not to mention its army is a huge threat to hold over a nation already at war with Napoleon, so the Military and Diplomatic corps (who don't understand the intelligence nor the bonds of dragons) are ready to give up - and the young dragon and Laurence are having none of it.
So they, their flight crew (he he), and diplomat set off with the Chinese contingency on a Naval Dragon ship (like an aircraft carrier?) to China. Along the way, both Temeraire and Laurence have to face betrayal and danger from both sides, insidious undermining of their relationship by the Chinese prince who travels with them, and issues with sea travel. Most of the was the sea voyage and...it was long. And boring. Also, both of our heroes have to carry the idiot ball in order for the conflict the machinations going on around them are attempting to work.
It wasn't until the last third of the book that they reached China (finally! I felt like I was on that stupid sea voyage the full time with them) and there it got very interesting. The culture, etc. was melded well with Dragons walking around and I found it fascinating. Both the boys are surprised by what they find there and things get difficult for both of them. The ending was...crazy but very rewarding in its own way. While this might not be my favorite volume of the series, it should be well worth the occasional re-read.
Since I got a three-in-one composition of the series, I can't wait to read the next story; hopefully it will go back to the war with Napoleon. I'm a bit more interested in that.