Crucible of Gold
The seventh volume of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, released March 6, 2012.
A while after the events of Tongues of Serpents, Laurence rescues Arthur Hammond from a pack of bunyips. Shortly afterwards, Hammond reveals the reason for his visit; he has been carried from China by Lung Shen Li on the orders of the British Government to reinstate Laurence in the Aerial Corps. Laurence initially refuses this, believing that he will be ordered to attack John MacArthur and his rebels, but later finds that he is to travel to South America and attempt to form an alliance with the Incan Empire to protect their allies in Brazil who are being attacked by the Tswana Kingdom with the aid of Napoleon.
Travelling to Sydney with Hammond, Laurence and Temeraire reunite with Granby & Iskierka, and the crew of the Allegiance; recently returned from India, and Laurence begins organising Temeraire's crew. Several unlikely additions are made; Laurence also decides to bring Demane & Kulingile, as Rankin will not recognise Demane as a Captain, Laurence's former lieutenant Ferris also joins them; having followed them to New South Wales when he had no other hope of prospect. Following an incident after the farewell dinner in which Emily Roland is approached by a soldier of the New South Wales Corps, Laurence hires Mrs Pemberton - a recent widower - to act as her chaperone.
The voyage is uneventful at first, until the Allegiance runs into a five day storm; during which time the dragons are chained to the deck - Temeraire and Kulingile using their weight to aid in keeping Iskierka chained down. Not long afterwards, a fire breaks out - caused by a number of drunken sailors - and ultimately destroys the Allegiance; many are killed, including Captain Riley. With no land in sight, the dragons are forced to remain aloft for many hours, until they come upon another ship; the French dragon-transport Triomphe - carrying four dragons; Genevieve - whose captain is revealed to be none other than De Guignes - Ardentuse, Piccolo, and the Incan ambassador Maila Yupanqui. With no other choice, they land on the dragondeck and surrender.
The Triomphe treats the survivors of the Allegiance and carries them north for a short while, during which time Laurence learns that the ship is carrying a number of French noblewomen, and Temeraire begins learning the Incan language from Hammond; in turn, Maila listens in to these lessons and begins learning English. Ultimately, they are marooned - save for Mrs Pemberton - on an island by Thibaux; the ship's captain, and forced to ration their supplies as they try to survive long enough to escape.
The sailors gradually become disgruntled at the lack of food; and after becoming intoxicated one night, a number of them plan to abduct Laurence, Granby and Demane, to force their dragons to obey them. The aviators succeed in repelling them, and Kulingile attacks the sailors when they capture Demane - emerging from the forest with Emily Roland. The next day, Laurence and several others go hunting - during which time he discusses with Emily Roland her relationship with Demane - eventually emerging at a cove where they discover a wrecked pirate ship; inside which is enough rope for makeshift harnesses, and a map of the area; which will allow them to safely fly to shore.
After two weeks travel, the aviators reach the Incan Empire, however, the first settlement they find is uninhabited; decimated by plague. At the second settlement, they meet Palta; a dragon - who at first attempts to flee with the villagers; having mistaken Temeraire for Supay, the Incan God of Death - who tells them to travel to Talcahuano and meet Hualpa Uturuncu; the governor. At the same time, Iskierka abducts Taruca, a blind man - with the intention of getting him to guide them - and they offer to take him with them on their trip, so he can go back to his family.
At Talcahuano, Governor Hualpa - a dragon - informs them that they have inadvertantly committed theft by taking Taruca with them; he is technically part of the dragon Cuarla's ayullu - a sort of tribe. Cuarla demands a challenge, which Iskierka accepts, and thus she is to fight the "champion of the state"; Manca Copacati. Iskierka ultimately wins the battle when her flame proves stronger than Manca's acid.
Following this, Hualpa grants them the authority to travel to Cuzco, and they begin preparing for their journey. During this time, Handes - the sailor behind the attempted abduction - joins the ayullu of the dragon Magaya - two others are tempted to join, but Temeraire demands their return - who compensates for this by gifting Temeraire with clothing and food for his crew.
During their journey north, Laurence discovers that there are few people alive in the Incan Empire; many died from the diseases brought by colonists, and as such the dragons now keep watchful eyes on those in their ayullus, as they are often kidnapped by other dragons. Eventually, they arrive at Taruca's original ayullu, and are thanked by the dragon Curicuillor and Taruca's family; who report this to the Sapa Inca on their behalf. After a brief stay, Curicuillor's daughter Churki - who takes an interest in Hammond - leads them to Cuzco. As they near the city, they encounter a French baggage-train, which they prevent from plunging into a ravine; realising afterwards that these must be gifts for the Sapa Inca from De Guignes.
In Cuzco, they are greeted by Maila Yupanqui - revealed to be a member of the Sapa Inca's ayullu - who ignores Hammond, but invites Iskierka to visit the royal court due to her victory against Manca Copacati. At the same time, Laurence meets again with De Guignes and Mrs Pemberton, who reveals that she has access to the royal court - also revealing the Sapa Inca is female - with the other noblewomen brought by De Guignes, and she offers to take Emily Roland with her.
After a number of meetings with Maila, Iskierka announces she has arranged for them to meet the Sapa Inca; Anhuarque Inca, who Granby ends up talking with. While watching their conversations, Laurence notes that Anhuarque is intentionally playing the English and French parties against each other so she won't be pressured to pick a consort from them - including Napoleon, who Mrs Pemberton reveals has recently divorced his wife Josephine. This is of no concern to Iskierka, who manages to arrange a possible marriage between Anhuarque and Granby several days later - although Temeraire notes they are really seeking Iskierka so she will breed for them; in addition to this, she has suggested that Britain will send men to live in the depleted ayullus. Granby vehemently refuses; eventually revealing to Laurence that he is homosexual - and in a relationship with Captain Little of Immortalis.
Despite this, Granby is sent to meet with Anhuarque, only for Napoleon to unexpectedly arrive with Lung Tien Lien and two Flamme-de-Gloire]]s. Napoleon is welcomed by Anhuarque, and it is revealed that the Flamme-de-Gloires are to remain in the Incan Empire as a sign of goodwill - and to breed in Lien's place; she claims Celestials cannot be crossbred - but Maila asks Temeraire to try to persuade Anhuarque to reject Napoleon.
In the evening, Iskierka convinces Temeraire to mate with her - she is angry at no longer being the subject of Maila's attention, and Temeraire is alarmed by Lien's words; suggesting he will not be able to breed - and they do so, before discovering Incan forces heading towards their camp; Napoleon has won over Anhuarque, and they are now the enemies of the Incan Empire.
Temeraire, Iskierka and Kulingile - joined by Churki, who intends to protect Hammond and his extended family in Britain - manage to retrieve their crews and flee from the Incans to Brazil. On the way, they are attacked by a patrol, who grievously injure Granby and Iskierka before Kulingile and Temeraire - who kills at least three dragons with the Divine Wind - manage to drive them off.
Their injuries become clear the next day; Iskierka becomes feverish, and Granby's arm - originally injured in the sinking of the Allegiance; now worsened - has to be amputated. They travel through the forest - Temeraire and Kulingile briefly abandon the group and fly to the coast to hunt; returning with a young Blue Whale - eventually arriving at Belém, where Granby's injuries are properly tended.
Not long afterwards, Iskierka takes the remains of the whale and sells the blubber to traders, in return for a golden hook for Granby to wear. However, Granby refuses to wear it, and informs Iskierka that he will no longer tolerate her erratic behaviour; she will either stop or leave him. Iskierka submits, and Granby arranges for the money from the whale blubber to be put into Funds in Britain.
Two days later, they continue on to Rio De Janiero - having obtained fresh supplies and crew in Belém - where they find Lethabo, Kefentse and a number of Tswana dragons in the ruins of the city - which they discover was burnt by the Portugese, not the Tswana, when they fled the city - going over slave ledgers to track down their missing family members - Lethabo reveals that they are at a standstill; many slave owners are holding their slaves hostage to prevent the dragons from attacking them.
Laurence and Hammond journey to Paraty, where the Portugese government is hiding and planning an assault against the Tswana with dragon reinforcements from Mexico; however, the dragons are all small feral breeds. During a meeting with Prince Regent João, Laurence suggests they invite the Tswana to colonise alongside them - having realised that Napoleon intended for Brazil to be sieged for a long time while the Tswana tracked down every slave and returned each to Africa.
Lily's Formation arrives shortly afterwards in Brazil on the transport Potentate, and Laurence and Temeraire reunite with their old comrades - during which time Laurence reveals to Catherine Harcourt that Riley is dead. The Prince Regent eventually agrees to a meeting between his representatives and the Tswana leaders. The Portugese agree to release the slaves, but argue they should remain on their estates. While Laurence is sure this is a ruse to make them slaves again once the war is over, the Tswana agree; on the condition that the families of the slaves are allowed to join them. The Portugese agree, not realising that this includes dragons.
Once this is announced, a number of the Tswana dragons begin making homes for themselves, but many wish to return to Africa. Since there are not enough transports to carry them all, they decide to attack and capture the French transports; Polonaise and Maréchal, and conduct a successful raid with reinforcements from the crew of a nearby British vessel.
In the aftermath, as they sail for Britain on the Potentate, Hammond worries about his future as a diplomat following the recent events. Gong Su reveals he is in fact an agent for Prince Mianning, and requests that they all accompany him to China. Hammond concludes the Chinese wish to form an alliance, and Temeraire eagerly looks forwards to his friends getting to see China; although Laurence notes that the captain of the Potentate isn't likely to divert the ship's course for them; meaning they will have to travel "overland and far to the north, at the Bering strait".
- The name was revealed by Naomi Novik in an interview on Facebook.
Deviations From History
Aside from the obvious additions of dragons, the events in Temeraire follow the history of our own world quite closely. However, several differences do occur throughout the series. In "Crucible of Gold", the following differences occur: