Throne of Jade is the second in the Temeraire fantasy series by Naomi Novik. This adventure takes the dragon Temeraire and his much-coved handler Capt. Will Laurence to China on a dragon transport called the Allegiance. The trip takes months, making it quite literally a slow boat to China, though never let a seaman hear you call it anything but a ship.
When China discovers that Britain had captured the Celestial dragon they had gifted France, they are outraged. That outrage is even worse when they learn Temeraire fights in combat and is ridden by Laurence, not a royal. When on the trip to China, the Chinese learn that he is an aristocrat who is linked by blood to the King, they are slightly mollified.
The Chinese are determined to persuade Temeraire to accept a new handler, certain once he gets to China he will feel at home and happily send Laurence back to England. Laurence is determined to do the best for Temeraire, which he thinks is staying with him come what may. To complicate matters, they have a diplomat coming along determined to forge a new relationship with China, or at the very least keep China from forming an alliance with France.
Complicating matters, there seems to be some other machinations going on among the Chinese, so you can see there is lots of intrigue and adventure.
I enjoyed Throne of Jade. I appreciate that Temeraire is learning that Laurence is fallible and discovering that not all cultures interact with dragons the same way the British do. I would have enjoyed more time in China and less on board ship. The China part of the plot felt abbreviated and I would have liked to see a longer development of the relationship with the Emperor’s other son, the one who did not travel on the ship, and more than one meeting with the emperor. I also would have loved more time spent with the other dragons, showing interactions, not just observing. Too much time was spent on the familiar and too little on the new. However, it is still a good adventure story that has me adding Volume III to my hold list at the library.