Over coffee and snackies the other day Naomi Novik, freshly returned from Australia, reported some of the results of her research for Book 6 of the Temeraire series, which will be published Summer ‘10, God willing and the creeks don’t rise. As the so-far-untitled novel begins, Will Laurence and Temeraire have been deported to the prison colony in New South Wales in order to springboard a breeding colony of dragons on Britain’s most far-flung possession.
In 1809, when Laurence and Temeraire arrive in disgrace, the settlement is embroiled in unrest and power struggles. Governor William Bligh (the same Bligh who was mutineed against on the HMS Bounty) has been deposed once more and sent packing to Tasmania, there to plot his return. Temeraire and Iskierka’s arrival signals a tremendous power shift, as the dragons represent the colony’s largest concentration of firepower.
Laurence and Temeraire quickly find themselves embroiled in the political and personal conflicts running rampant in the new colony, which was largely being treated by the British government as a convenient dumping ground for the excess convict population. The entire settlement of New South Wales was a jail, surrounded by the Blue Mountains which blocked passage to the interior, and populated with resentful convicts and grasping military officers trying to make their fortunes. “The early history of the colony at the time has an almost Wild West, lawless-frontier feel to it,” Naomi told me.
Above: A view of the Blue Mountains, showing the characteristic blue haze
(produced by light reflecting off the oil of the eucalyptus trees
dominant in the area).
Here are a few more of the literally thousands of shots Naomi took on her trip. And if you haven’t kept up with the Temeraire series, be aware that the mass market of Victory of Eagles, book 5, goes on sale today.
Left: A small relative of Temeraire? Hanging out in the desert near the Kata Tjuta rock formation in the red center of Australia.
Right: A mangrove at low tide on the shore in North Queensland.