Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty's Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, gratefully anticipate their voyage home after their tempestuous adventure in China. But before they can depart urgent new orders arrive: instead of sailing with the fleet, Temeraire and his crew must make a perilous over-land journey, stopping briefly in Istanbul to collect and escort a precious cargo of dragon eggs back to England. The cross-continental expedition is fraught with danger; frigid mountain-passes and sterile deserts will drain their strength and make them vulnerable to attacks from feral dragons and Napoleon's aggressive infantry who infest the land. And a Machiavellian herald precedes them, further hindering their progress as she spreads political poison in her wake. Lien, the white celestial dragon, fervently believes Temeraire to be responsible for the humiliating death of her beloved princely companion and has vowed to ally herself with his greatest enemy to destroy everything and everyone the black dragon holds dear, including Britain . . .