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While entertaining, especially if one is a fan of the series, this novel is a weak effort overall by Novik. The politics of the fledgling colony do little to intrigue and the threat of war is mostly absent. The reintroduction of Captain Rankin creates intrigue, one cannot help but know that Rankin will earn the trust of his hatched dragon and work to be a captain. Of course, a rival captain that disdains and distrusts Laurence creates tension, but at times both Temeraire and Laurence feel as if they have grown depressed, whiny, and sad. Temeraire does succeed in rescuing the seemingly decrepit Kulingile, but even these encounters leave him lacking bite and flare. He simply lacks the elegance and strength of his early renditions. Either way, the Chinese eventually enter the fray bringing an epic battle with them, one that fails to disappoint even if its placement is not fully needed.