Tongues of Serpents
Author: Naomi Novik
Length: 355 pages
Up until now, I had only read one other book by Naomi Novik. I had loved Spinning Silver and the unique take on a classic fairy tale it presented. While I understand Tongues of Serpents is the sixth book in the Temeraire series, I found it to be inferior to Spinning Silver in many ways. I will also grant that I’m not necessarily the target audience for this genre of historical fantasy when it takes a more nautical tilt (like Far Side of the World does). Still, there was enough of a standalone element to Tongues of Serpents that I was able to pull a story out of it and write a review of it.
Some things I had trouble getting used to in this book were the fact that the dragons all spoke in the same English as the human characters. I had a tough time identifying which characters were dragons and which were humans, and I didn’t know why they sounded so similar (I’m sure a previous book explains this). Additionally, I eventually gained a slight sense of the overarching goal of the series (I think it’s to get to China), but I didn’t feel like the characters’ motives were very clear in this book.
I almost gave up reading this book until the end of part one when something interesting happened, but even that sub-plot felt like it never went anywhere and was only an excuse to use a lot more words to describe very few actions. In the end, there was a lot of fluff in this book, and I’ll chalk it up to the way authors write these historical nautical books. Perhaps if it were slanted more toward fantasy or more tied to history (like in the Alvin Maker series), I would have enjoyed it more. As it was, I just kind of skimmed through it and donated it to the next person who might like to read about dragons in Australia.
A historical fantasy that was too light in both history and fantasy, I give Tongues of Serpents 2.5 stars out of 5.