Crucible of Gold - Naomi Novik Jolly good and a return to form after the somewhat dreary sixths book. Yes, it's a travelogue, but it's a fast paced, exciting, occasionaly joyfully gruesome travelogue, replete with catastrophes, calamities and crocodiles. Plots, schemes, desert islands, things on fire, battles and mutinies come fast and furious, and theres a few surprisingly touching moments as Novik rather brutalizes the minor cast.

A minor theme picks up issues of family, parenthood and the passage of time and grounds all the colourful running about with a sense loss and tiredness for these characters, which helps give the book some substance and raises it above a fluffy adventure story. I also particularly continue to enjoy the folding out of the alternative history, with the return of the African Empire of Tswana and the introduction of the Incas as significant political forces. There was one narrow escape that seemed a bit too convenient at one point, but otherwise a good read. Recommended for people who gave up on the series.