Throne of Jade
The second volume of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, released in the United States by Del Rey (a division of RandomHouse) on April 25, 2006. It was published in Great Britain by Voyager on August 7, 2006.
Following the events of the previous book, in which the dragon Temeraire was harnessed by William Laurence, and later revealed to be a Celestial; a breed normally restricted to the Chinese royalty, Prince Yongxing, brother to the Jiaqing Emperor of China, demands that Temeraire (or Lung Tien Xiang; the name he was given when his egg was laid), be returned to China immediately, as a Celestial dragon working as a common soldier is a great offence. Laurence is removed from the Aerial Corps until future notice, and forbidden to see Temeraire, something which Temeraire himself discovers with great anger. In a rage, Temeraire destroys a barracks with the Divine Wind, and flees with Laurence to the Dover covert, which is preparing to attack a French convoy. Temeraire and Laurence quickly join the battle with the dragons of the covert, but Laurence is injured when a Pecheur crashes on top of Temeraire.
Lord Barham, First Lord of the Admiralty, attempts to arrest Laurence when he returns to the covert for medical assistance, but is unsuccessful. Prince Yongxing arrives shortly afterwards, and it soon becomes clear that Temeraire will not leave Britain without Laurence, so Laurence is allowed to accompany him to China on the HMS Allegiance, a dragon transport, which is captained by Tom Riley, once the second mate of the Reliant under Laurence.
Relations on the ship between the crew and the Chinese guests quickly degenerates, once it is heard that they initially travelled to Britain on four ships of the East India Company, confiscated after they demanded payment for their services, which, in China, is something not normally requested of royal passengers. Since a majority of Britain’s navy men have served on these ships at some point, it is seen as a great offence towards them by the crew.
That evening, the Allegiance is attacked by two French ships, the Valerie and the Chanteuse, and a Fleur-de-Nuit, a largely nocturnal dragon. Temeraire rises to battle the Fleur-de-Nuit, and the Allegiance battles the two ships, using pepper guns, and later Chinese fireworks to weaken the nocturnal dragon. The Allegiance suffers several fatalities, until Temeraire uses the Divine Wind and capsizes the Valerie. Shortly afterwards, dragons in training from the Dover covert, alerted by the fireworks, come to the rescue, and the crew of the Chanteuse surrender, along with the Fleur-de-Nuit.
The next day, Laurence is summoned by Prince Yongxing to account for why he allowed Temeraire to participate in the engagement (Temeraire was wounded in the final moments, and is not to fly for two weeks). Laurence is outraged by the nature of his statements, and forbids Yongxing the use of the dragondeck, a rule quickly removed by the actions of Arthur Hammond, a diplomat travelling with them attempting to restore good relations between China and Britain. The riders from the Dover covert return to Britain, and the passengers of the Allegiance settle down for the long journey.
After they pass Madeira, one of the Chinese envoys, Liu Bao, is revealed to be violently ill with seasickness, and unable to eat. He is later cured by eating ship’s biscuit, and Laurence invites him and the other envoy, Sun Kai, to the Christmas feast in the evening. During it, Sun Kai recites an old poem about travelling written by a dragon. Temeraire, on deck, overhears it, and enquires about it. Prince Yongxing teaches him the poem, and over the next few days, teaches him how to read and write in Chinese and tells him of the conditions for dragons in China, something which comes to an end when Temeraire reacts angrily to hearing that Laurence would be sent away from him.
All the while, relations between the aviators and the sailors have been slowly worsening, and a fight breaks out on deck one day. When Temeraire prepares to defend a member of his crew who is in fact guilty of starting the fight, Laurence yells at him to stop him, an action that shocks them both. The unlucky crew-member is flogged, and Temeraire’s mood continues to worsen as they dock at Cape Coast, a town that deals in the slave trade, which unsettles the crew, and deeply alarms Temeraire, who is unaware of the concept of slavery. Laurence reassures Temeraire by telling him his father is an abolitionist, and is attempting to have the slave trade stopped. Laurence then goes to read the mail delivered to him, and is horrified to learn of the current state of the war; Napoleon has conquered Austria.
Soon after, Temeraire is pronounced nearly well enough to fly, and he leaps off the Allegiance to swim, later climbing back aboard so as not to risk straining his injured wing muscles. Back on board, Yongxing explains to Laurence that by continuing to be his rider, he is barring Temeraire from his birthright, and exposing him to unnecessary dangers as a common soldier. Yongxing offers Laurence money to leave Temeraire, but Laurence refuses.
Captain Langford James arrives with mail for Laurence on Volatilus, who is sick with a draconic flu, along with most of the dragons back in Britain. He leaves, and the Chinese passengers prepare a celebration for the New Years, creating a banquet. After the feast, Laurence hears of a rumour that a ghost is haunting the ship, that is later revealed to be Feng Li, Prince Yongxing’s servant, who has been arriving unexpectedly on deck at night.
The next morning, Laurence awakes to discover Temeraire has caught the aforementioned flu. They dock at Cape Town, where Laurence asks Prince Yongxing if his servants could cook Temeraire some stronger foods, as he is refusing to eat. The servants recruit the help of local merchants and children to find as many exotic spices and herbs as possible, and the resulting mixture, despite its hideous smell, not only sates Temeraire’s appetite, it cures him of the flu.
Heading out to sea, the Allegiance runs afoul of a storm. For his safety, Temeraire is fastened to the deck with storm-chains, something which greatly alarms him, as they are heavy enough to prevent him from moving. The storm hits, and Temeraire panics, damaging one of the ropes holding the chains in place. Laurence and a crew member, Leddowes, rush to tighten the ropes, when they are both attacked by Feng Li, who manages to injure Laurence and knock Leddowes into the sea, before falling overboard himself. The next day, Granby, Laurence’s lieutenant, expresses his belief that Prince Yongxing ordered Feng Li to murder Laurence, something which is hotly contested by Hammond.
The final obstacle of their journey comes in the form of a Kiao, a sea-serpent, which attacks the Allegiance, killing several crew members in the process. Temeraire tries to convince the serpent to leave, but ultimately is forced to kill it, an action which he sees as murder, as the creature may have been as sentient as him, but with no grasp of human language. Temeraire also expresses his opinion that humans view Dragons as little more than beasts or slaves.
Several weeks later, the Allegiance finally reaches China, despite the majority of the crew being afflicted with Malarial Fevers. Reaching Macao, Temeraire is overwhelmed by various people who greet him, as Celestials are considered good luck. Instead of sailing with the Allegiance further into Chinese waters, Temeraire will be escorted by several dragons to the Forbidden City, along with Prince Yongxing, Laurence, Hammond & ten members of Temeraire’s crew, brought along for Laurence’s safety. Several stops are made at special “Pavilions”; large buildings made specifically for housing dragons. At one of these, Prince Yongxing is greeted by a white Celestial, Lung Tien Lien. Laurence learns from Liu Bao that as her skin colour is a “mourning colour”, she is considered unlucky. He also learns that Prince Yongxing was in line for the throne, but intentionally became Lien’s companion to prevent a Celestial from being bonded to someone outside of the royal family, and this meant he could not become Emperor.
Reaching the Forbidden City, Temeraire is greeted by none other than his mother, Lung Tien Qian, and Laurence and his companions are housed in a private pavilion belonging to the Emperor. The following day, Temeraire and Laurence are taken for a tour of Beijing, to see how dragons live in China. Temeraire is amazed at the differences to Britain; in China, dragons freely roam the streets, and can even purchase cooked meals from sellers on the streets.
Lung Tien Qian invites Temeraire and Laurence to her own pavilion, where she sends Temeraire away while she questions Laurence about conditions for dragons in Britain, and about his lineage, as Laurence’s family are in fact descendants of Edward III of England; something that was revealed on board the Allegiance during the Christmas feast. The next day, Prince Yongxing pays a visit to Hammond and Laurence, accompanied by a young boy who he instructs to sit with Temeraire. Laurence, guessing that the boy is his intended replacement, leaves, and Prince Yongxing leaves soon after. Temeraire then leaves to visit his mother, but planning to return soon after, and Laurence retires to his room to write letters.
Later in the day, Sun Kai, the other Chinese envoy, secretly arrives with an urgent message; a gang of Tartars are on their way to the pavilion to murder Laurence and his crew. They rush to arm themselves, and barricade the entrance. Temeraire does not return, and they are forced to fight the entire horde, something that is ultimately achieved, but with the death of Willoughby, one of the crew. Sun Kai soon returns and guides them to another pavilion; this one inhabited by Prince Mianning; the heir to the throne, and his dragon Lung Tien Chuan, who bears a remarkable similarity to Temeraire. Temeraire soon arrives, and reluctantly reveals the reason for his absence; he was courting Lung Qin Mei, an Imperial who serves his mother.
Several weeks pass, with Temeraire acting more protective of Laurence, lest another attack on his life happen. It now seems that Temeraire will not be separated from Laurence, as not only has Lung Tien Qian sent a gift to Laurence acknowledging his companionship, but Liu Bao has even suggested that the Emperor could formally adopt Laurence, so as to satisfy both sides of the party.
The crew of the Allegiance arrives in Beijing, and a welcome celebration in the form of a theatrical performance is planned. Prince Yongxing is there with Lung Tien Lien, as well as Prince Mianning with Lung Tien Chuan, now revealed to be a twin of Temeraire’s who was kept as the heir to the throne while his brother was sent away to avoid competition for the throne. Hammond realises that the young boy brought to Temeraire by Prince Yongxing is Prince Miankai, another of the Emperor’s children, and that Prince Yongxing must be planning to overthrow the Emperor. In addition to this, he must be behind the attempts at Laurence’s murder. Soon after, Laurence is attacked by an assassin pretending to be an actor, but the wound is not fatal. Temeraire then kills the assassin, and then, having heard of Prince Yongxing’s involvement, sets his sights on him. Lung Tien Lien leaps to protect him, and a fierce battle ensues between the two dragons, culminating in the two knocking over the back of the stage, causing it to shatter and send bamboo shards into the crowd. Laurence pushes Prince Mianning out of the way of the deadly shards, but Prince Yongxing is not so quick, and he is killed. Both dragons see this, and Lung Tien Lien retreats with her companion’s body.
Prince Yongxing is posthumously found to have been plotting against the Emperor, with the intention of using Temeraire as a false regent. Laurence is formally adopted by the Emperor, and allowed to remain Temeraire’s captain. In addition to this, Hammond has managed to set up an embassy of sorts. Laurence hears that the Allegiance will be returning to Britain soon, and asks Temeraire if he wishes to return. Temeraire, knowing that Laurence would prefer to return home, decides to return, but with the intention of also helping conditions improve for dragons in Britain.
For more detail, see Characters introduced in Throne Of Jade.
Several excerpts are included from a (fictional) book by Sir Edward Howe, detailing several aspects of dragons as they are treated in China.
- When still in draft form, the original title of Throne of Jade was "Luck and Palaces". An additional plot point in the story had supporters of both Mianning and Miankai attempting to either undermine their opponent or murder their dragon so as to secure the throne, while French agents aided either side.
- The dragon depicted on the cover of both versions of Throne of Jade is that of Lung Tien Lien.
- Partway through the story, a mention is made of Temeraire discovering how to open the feeding pens, and inadvertantly releasing the herds in an attempt to get breakfast. This was later expanded into a short story entitled "Feast or Famine".
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 "Throne Of Jade", the following differences occur:
- Despite Prince Mianning and Prince Miankai being historical figures, Prince Yongxing is an invention of the author; presumably to create a villain without risking offence to the memory of a real member of the Qing dynasty. There might be a historical basis for the character, however, as a Prince Yongxing did exist, but in the generation prior; he had several other names (Prince Chengzhe of the First Rank, most notably), but he would have been Mianning and Miankai's illegitimate uncle.
- In China, the dragon inhabitants are treated as citizens. As a result, city streets are wider and specialised "pavilions" exist to house them. (Expand)
- The Legend of Hua Mulan, which details the story of a woman who disguised herself as a man and joined the army to protect a younger brother from being conscripted, adds that she became captain to a dragon in the army. As a result, the captains of the dragons in the Chinese Army are exclusively female.
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Deleted Scene from Throne Of Jade A cut scene from Throne Of Jade, located on the official website.