Review of Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novick

I had almost completely forgotten about the imminent publication of the next chapter in the Temeraire saga until just days before release, which was also right before my birthday. I figured that I would buy it for myself only to be pleasantly surprised that my husband had already bought it for me. I put off reading it until after I finished critiquing my husband’s completed manuscript for his first fantasy novel. In spite of reading it in short segments while nursing my son, I’ve still been able to follow the story very well.

Novick previous books have taken us from Europe to Asia to the Middle East, Africa and then Australia as we explore the use of dragons in her alternate history taking place in the Napoleonic era. In the Crucible of Gold we travel along with Lawrence and Temeraire to South America and explore the unique society of the Incan empire. My historically minded husband reminded me that the Incan civilization was long gone by this point in history, but Novick’s alternate history seems to imply that with the addition of dragons the Incan civilization had the ability to overcome the powerful conquerors of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. Ship wrecks, mutinous sailors, another new language for linguistically inclined Temeraire to learn are just a few of the major events as the British party attempts to forge an allegiance with the Incas, keeping their eyes peeled for their French competitors. This book is an improvement over Tongues of Serpents, (which in my opinion was a bit of a low point in the series) but still doesn’t rank as high as my favorites like His Majesty’s Dragon and Empire of Ivory. But overall a worthwhile read and definitely leaves the reader looking forward to the next installment of the Temeraire saga.

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