I never got around to reviewing this book after I read it last year. I have to say sadly, I was disappointed. Not much seems to happen and what little does (the exploration of the interior of Australia) seems to take far too long. We are reintroduced to a rather annoying character from His Majesty’s Dragon, Captain Rankin and most additional characters are entirely forgettable and unremarkable. While the descriptions of the wilds of the Australian outback were interesting after a while I began to feel like I had been wandering through the wilderness. I picked up and put down this book more often than any of Novick’s others. I just couldn’t get into the story. I was less bored during the never ending sea voyage of Throne of Jade or the desert trek in Black Powder War. A disgraced Lawrence didn’t give me much hope for or interest in the future of the character and Temeraire’s dragon superiority act was wearing a bit thin. The book felt too short and yet nothing really seems to happen. The characters don’t really grow or change and the only major obstacles aside from the wilderness itself were some strange creatures that seemed like they better belonged in a cheesy horror or thriller novel rather than a well-crafted piece of fantasy/alternate history fiction. Get through this book as it is required to set up Crucible of Gold, but I wouldn’t expect the same page-turning quality of Novick’s other books.