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Throne Of Jade (Temeraire Book 2) by Naomi Novik


Captain Laurence must take a sea voyage to China to give Temeraire up to the Imperial family.  Poor Laurence is almost unrelentingly stiff and gruff in this book, but he does have the impending separation to worry about.

When they arrive, China is revealed as a vastly different place for dragons than is Europe:  they are treated as equals who get paid for their work – when they are not being revered as are the Celestials of which Temeraire is one.  This introduces the fascinating situation of Temeraire wanting to effect social change for the British dragons. (This addresses the uncomfortable realization in the first book that the obviously sentient dragons are being exploited to fight in the humans’ war.) 

In China, lots of intrigue happens while Laurence and his crew of aviators struggle to find a way to convince the Imperial family that Temeraire must stay with them.  A good read.