Empire of Ivory - Naomi Novik I think this was beyond a doubt the best of the series so far. The author is bringing up a number of issues, including the general treatment of dragons as mere animals, despite the fact that they are intelligent creatures. In many cases they demonstrate intelligence beyond which most people are capable. Like Temeraire's gift for languages. He picks them up so quickly.

It seems after having tread this that Britain is the worst as far as its treatment of dragons. In China, dragons walk the streets among people. They have their own money and make purchases. They're deeply respected. Indeed, Celestials are borderline worshipped. In the parts of Africa they travel to in this book, dragons are considered to be the reincarnated spirits of ancestors, and are elders and kings. Even in France, they are making accommodations to allow dragons to walk the streets, and treat them more the way they're treated in China. It seems to be only in Britain where the idea of even giving them shelter when they're sick is seen as preposterous and frivolous, where people fear them as monsters and can't stand the sight of one even flying overhead.

This book dealt heavily with the issue of slavery as well. It has come up in past books, as well, but it was most prominent so far in this one. Temeraire is deeply disgusted by the practice, mainly because as a dragon he relates heavily to the slaves. Laurence is also against it, in part, I believe, because of his father's political beliefs (as an abolishonist), and also because he is constantly learning from Temeraire, and becoming a better and better person as a result. His conflict with Riley seemed to come to a head over this, but I don't feel as if it was really resolved. I'd be surprised if it didn't come up again.

Then again, with the way this particular book ended, I really have no idea what to expect of the next book.