but I have spent my spare time over the last few days immersed in the world of Naomi Novik's Temeraire trilogy, and regretfully have now finished volumes two (Throne of Jade) and three (Black Powder War), they are lovely but of course they make me want more. It's a series, really, rather than a trilogy (I hope they will publish these three together in a boxed set--I am very fond of that format, and really it's appropriate here because LOTR-style they're sort of like one long book split up into three parts); the ending of the last one is quite provisional though temporarily satisfying, and the story is clearly far from over.
The first one in the series is His Majesty's Dragon, and it will be released in late March (with the second and third to appear in April and May respectively, it's a lovely and ingenious publishing scheme whose genesis is described in a fascinating pair of short essays by Novik and her editor Betsy Mitchell at Writer's Digest (no subscription required).
Here was me a few weeks ago basically going crazy with love for the first one (everybody should read it!). The second and third are very enjoyable too, Novik is a remarkably confident and articulate writer who manages the global sweep of the narrative (Laurence and Temeraire and crew travel by sea to China, overland to Turkey, then on to Jena and the massed armies of Prussia meeting Napoleon's, etc. with culminating grand battle scenes) with impressive skill, but if I can for a moment resuscitate the Anne McCaffrey-meets-Patrick O'Brian conceit (which Novik must be completely sick of by now, though the sheer genius of the "Napoleonic Wars--with dragons!" thing makes it irresistible), I adored the first one partly because the McCaffrey was outweighing the O'Brian, and here the balance tips the other way. Which is undoubtedly in better taste, and O'Brian is addictive too (god, I remember reading those books my fourth or so year of grad school, I had been postponing it because I knew they would hook me at once and then I got the first two from Cross-Campus Library and basically for the next four days all I did was read, race back to campus to the library, check out the next four or five, read them all very quickly and race back for the next, until really about five days later I had read them all, it was a slightly sickening but very enjoyable experience), but I missed the charms of the dragon-inflected bildungsroman thing that you get in the first one. Also there is rather a shortage of female characters, though I trust they will be more prominent again in subsequent volumes. I will eat my hat, though (if I had a hat, and if it was edible), if this trilogy isn't the hugest thing for a long while--they are such good books, and the potential audience is enormous. Highly recommended.