I listened to or read all the rest of these books and somehow skipped over this one, so I was glad to see what happened in the interim. I didn’t know who Junichiro was, for example, and missed how Temeraire and Izkierka came to have an egg and why it was in China.
On one hand, it’s a fun rollicking adventure novel, as always. Laurence is Lawful Good alignment, which gets him into heaps of trouble and creates problems for everyone around him. In this novel, he’s lost his memory of the previous eight years, which made for a few absolutely delightful comedic scenes as his current situation was revealed to him. I liked the Japanese water dragons, though the physics of some of their abilities seemed hard to wrap my head around. No weirder than a flying 4 ton dragon, I suppose.
On the other hand, this novel just kind of feels like filler. One thing happens, and then another thing happens, and then another thing happens, but it didn’t feel like there was much in the way of an overarching plot or theme. The first part of the novel takes place in Japan, and then they are not in Japan, and they don’t really seem to return to that story line. I was hoping to find out what happened with Roland and Demain, but that entire plot seems to take up no more than a paragraph. Some of the characters, like Hammond and O’Day get more and more themselves, while other characters, like Baggy and Roland, just seem like background extras.
Is it worth reading? Yes, if you’re into the series, it will provide some of the same adventure and fun that the others did. But it’s not the strongest by far, and while it told me how they got from point A to point B, and how they came to have Chinese legions in Russia, it didn’t really move the story the way some of the other novels did.