BLACK POWDER WAR, by Naomi Novik
3/series. Escaping Imperial China by a handy subterfuge, Celestial dragon Temeraire and his captain Will Lawrence, and the Temeraire crew are ordered to Istanbul to pick up several valuable dragon eggs. A dangerous journey takes them over the Gobi desert, following the ancient Silk Road. In the mountains they encounter a band of small, feral dragons led by the volatile, posturing Arkady who decides to follow Temeraire on his journey. Once in Istanbul, Arkady and his quarrelsome gang pillage and squabble, and little is what it seems, including the disappearance of a ransom in gold coins. Meanwhile, Bonaparte continues his rampage across eastern Europe. A beautiful melding of history, fantasy, war and emotion. A 5.