Throne of Jade (Temeraire, Book 2)
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When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo–an unhatched dragon’s egg–Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces.
Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands–and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East–a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.
Calloway came panting with the box; in a moment, the whistle of the first rising flare cut through the low voices, and the yellow-white flash lit the sky. A dragon bellowed: not Temeraire's voice, too low, and in the too-short moment while the light lingered, Laurence caught sight of Temeraire hovering protectively over the ship. The Fleur-de-Nuit had evaded him in the dark and was a little way off, twisting its head away from the light. Temeraire roared at once and darted for the French
quiet attention. The elder, a big, round-bellied man with a tufted grey beard, had gradually been overcome by the heat: his head had sunk forward onto his chest, mouth half open for air, and his hand was barely even moving his fan towards his face. They were robed in dark blue silk, almost as elaborately as the prince himself, and together they made an imposing façade: certainly no such embassy had ever been seen in the West. A far more practiced diplomat than Barham might have been pardoned
having raised his wings out of the water, Temeraire beat them a couple of times, and half-leapt, half-scrambled up the side of the ship. He fell heavily onto the deck without much grace, hind legs scrabbling for an undignified moment, but he indeed got aboard, and the Allegiance did not do more than bounce a little beneath him. He hastily settled his legs underneath him again and busied himself shaking water off his ruff and long tendrils, pretending he had not been clumsy. "It was not very
more conciliatory or more belligerent manner. "No, I was off before more than the bare word had reached us," James said. "I promise if anything has changed when I get back, I will do my best and bring you the news at Capetown. But," he added, "they send us down here less than once in a sixmonth, ordinarily, so I shouldn't hope for it. The landing sites are too uncertain, and we have lost couriers without a trace here before, trying to go overland or even just spend a night on shore."
Laurence shook his head, both at the question and at the use of when; he would gladly have accepted uncertainty on the former point, if he might have had any assurance of the latter. The Allegiance left Africa behind sailing almost due east with the current, which Riley thought better than trying to beat up along the coast into the capricious winds that still blew more south than north for the moment, and not liking to strike out across the main body of the Indian Ocean. Laurence watched the