This is the latest (2-27-12) book in the Temeraire series. I have not read the previous books but will definitely be doing so. I extrapolated from this book that Temeraire (the dragon) and his rider, Captain Laurence are in an ongoing war with Napoleon and his allies. This story has Temeraire taking care of business in South America and his encounter with the Inca empress.
Anthropomorphism is still one of my favorite themes. I greatly enjoyed the personalities ascribed to each dragon and all of their idiosyncrasies. The interplay of the dragons is very entertaining. As I volunteer occasionally in a kindergarten class I see some age related parallels. Of course, weighing many tons, breathing fire, tornadoes or acid is normally not seen in kindergarten, the parallel is a bit fanciful but the willfulness is not.
Captain Laurence is clearly the most mature acting of the characters including the other humans. The situation was well portrayed and the social aspects of dragons and people well laid out. Dragons as weapons and their allegiance to warring nations provides an excellent environment for story portrayal.
I enjoyed the story and will read it’s predecessors. I think there the current Crucible of Gold should be read after reading the earlier books. A clear back story would make this book even better.
I recommend the book.