Review: Crucible of Gold

Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When we last left Laurence and Temeriare, they were in Australia, contemplating retirement. This book has them dragged back in because Napoleon continues to scheme. Thanks to the deviation from our history in which Africa has been wrested from colonialism, Napoleon makes a deal with the largest “country” on the continent to provide them with transportation to South America to try and get back/get revenge for their family and ancestors recently sold into slavery. As a bonus, this means they harass Brazil and give Napoleon the chance to take a distracted Portugal, leaving Britain without allies.

Our protagonists – Laurence/Temeriare, Granby/Iskierka, and Demane/Kunigile head off to South America from Australia. Of course, as is the case with any voyage involving our main characters, things go awry. Eventually they arrive I guess where Chile would have been in our timeline. Yes, the European diseases have still wreaked havoc on the Amerindians, but, thanks to dragons, the Incan Empire remains a concern on the continent. I love the complex human/dragon society that Novik sets up in the Incan lands. We have now seen 4 different variations on how human/dragon societies could have evolved: the European model (slightly better than beasts of burden), the Chinese model (revered and treated with higher status than humans), the African model (a belief system that some humans are reincarnated dragons), and the Incan model (which I won’t spoil).

As always with these books, I enjoy (in order of enjoyment value) the world building, the societal things/education (or removal of naivette) of Temeriare, and the action scenes. So I found the voyage a bit boring. I was happy when they finally made it to South America. I hope our protagonists can catch a break soon because for these later books in the series, they have been put through the wringer.

I happily look forward to the next one.

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