(preorder—to be published in August)
Naomi Novik ended her acclaimed, beloved nine-volume Temeraire series last year with a stunning finale, League of Dragons. Fans missing their favorite series can now rejoice: Novik returns with an original Temeraire collection as unique as the world she has created, with each tale inspired by an accompanying piece of fan art.
The Temeraire novels provide a window into an alternate nineteenth century populated with Novik’s own richly human and unforgettably draconic characters as they adventure alongside well-known historical figures. That tradition continues here. Readers will delight at appearances by fan-favorite characters from the series and historical figures like the famed explorer Matteo Ricci. In “Planting Season,” Novik shows us an early glimpse of American dragon John Wampanoag at Boston Harbor. “Golden Age” finds a dragon who believes he remembers being called Celeste hatch from a shipwreck-tossed crate onto an island where he meets others of his kind. But other famous fictional characters are to be discovered here as well. Readers will certainly recognize a certain Miss Bennet (here Captain Bennet) and her suitor, Mr. Darcy, in “Dragons and Decorum.”
Filled with the inventive world-building, rich detail, sparkling wit, and deep emotion that readers have come to expect from Novik’s work, Golden Age and Other Stories is a treasure at home on any Temeraire-lover’s bookshelf.
Limited: 400 signed numbered copies, bound in leather
Trade: Fully cloth bound hardcover copies
Table of Contents:
(Excerpt from the story "Golden Age")
Tang Shen was very tired. The ship was still sinking behind him, the hollow sound of its wooded sides beating against stone audible even through the roar of the storm. The dragging weight of the crate pulled upon his body at the other end of the rope looped around his arms, and he had been ill for three weeks now. The fever still burned in his forehead and ached in every joint even now being numbed by the water. But he had been champion swimmer in his village as a boy, before he had bent to his studies; he had been given his promotion and sent upon this perilous journey for that very reason.
In any case, he was the last of his companions left; they had all sickened with the same terrible fevers as the rest of the barbarian crew, and now the ship itself with all of those sailors was vanishing beneath the waves. He was the last hope of the egg’s survival. He kept his arms and legs moving through the surf. Perhaps none would ever know what he did here; perhaps he would fail. But at least he would try.
Lightning flashes overhead illuminated the wall of rock looming to his right, but he caught a glimpse ahead of the pale white of an empty shore, sand reflecting the light. His strength renewed by hope, he gulped air and plunged beneath the ocean’s tumult. He swam as many strokes as he could before surfacing, trying to clear the dark mass of the rock. One more gasp for air, and then he managed to kick round and into the small bay. The water calmed a few strokes further in, and calmed further quickly; when he put his head into the water, he could see darker shapes waving beneath him, a forest of seaweed growing from below.
The waves were helping him now, carrying him in. He stopped laboring and let them slosh his body forward, his arms moving in slow, dull circles. The ocean floor rose abruptly and caught his feet. He began almost crawling rather than swimming, grabbing at the floor and pushing himself along for a long way in the shallow water until he managed to stagger up onto his feet and gain the shore. The wind still blew fiercely, and the wide fronds of the trees overhead were lashing with a dull rushing noise, but he was on dry ground. He sat heavily at the base of a tree and began to pull in the crate hand over hand. It was nearly at the shore when his hands fell from the rope, and his head leaned back against the trunk of the tree.
When the morning came, the wind and tide had left the crate by Tang Shen’s feet. His corpse was already beginning to bloat in the hot sun. Its rays also penetrated the waterlogged wood and slowly began to steam the moisture from the straw. It was pleasantly hot within the crate. The egg rested peacefully. The ocean continued to throw up bits of shattered wood from the wreck, scraps of sailcloth and rope, barrels and boxes marked Amitié.
The corpse’s bones were mostly picked clean by rats and ants by the time the egg within the crate began to crack. The hatchling was not pleased to emerge into a thick cloud of straw, nor to find a thick wooden wall beyond it; instinct and desperation made his struggles vigorous, and he managed to tumble his crate over and burst open the weakened lid. The dragonet spilled out onto the sand and rolled over twice before sitting up on his haunches, shaking sand off indignantly.
To either side of him a small gentle curve of sand stretched away a little distance, quite empty. Ahead, the vast wide ocean ran dark blue to the horizon. Behind, a solid tangle of greenery and trees. He nosed curiously at the crate from which he had emerged, and the collapsing pile of bones at the other end of the rope, but neither responded. He looked round himself uncertainly. The silence seemed very peculiar. He had spent the last several months surrounded by the echoing voices of French sailors and Chinese attendants, the constant creak and groan of a sailing ship, the rise and fall of her rhythm on the waves.
“Bonjour?” he called at last, tentative. No one answered him.
But the eerie quality of his situation could not long compete for his attention. He was hungry, and there did not seem to be anything here to eat. He broke open several of the barrels, and found some soggy biscuit and some salt pork. He took a few bites of each, but their edibility seemed questionable. He flung out his wings and shook them, and after a couple of attempts managed to get into the air. He could not stay there for very long, but fortune smiled on him: on his third crash into the water, he knocked into a sea turtle. It was large and perplexed by the collision; the dragonet suffered no similar confusion. He immediately bit off the turtle’s head, and then swam awkwardly to the shore dragging it along and spent the rest of a pleasant afternoon prying open its shell and devouring the soft meat. It was delicious.
As the sun went down he sat upon the shore looking out at the ocean in a more harmonious spirit. He sang one of the sailors’ songs, without quite grasping what the words meant, because it was the only way he had found to make any of the friendly noise that had gone missing. And then he curled himself up and went to sleep.
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