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Thursday, August 03, 2017

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: March 28, 2006

Series:  Temeraire, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies . . . not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future–and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

I've been recommended to read this book by a few sources as it's been on quite a few "Best of..." fantasy lists for series. I also read Uprooted by the author a few years ago and absolutely loved it. It obviously is somewhat of an older title, but I'm happy to have discovered it. I knew if this book was being compared as Jane Austen plus dragons, I had to read immediately! I am glad I did. I can't wait to read the second (and I'm just waiting for my hold to come in before starting it too).

While some readers might be expecting similarities to other novels about dragons, the closest I can see that bears resemblance is in Harry Potter as each region has a few different types of dragons that are native to the area. This is where the comparisons cease, however. Temeraire himself is a very unique dragon. Dragons are bonded to their handler at hatching, and if not harnessed by this handler, they have a risk to become feral. When Temeraire hatches, instead of allowing his handler to be chosen for him, he sort of chooses himself, walking right up to our hero Will Laurence and talking to him, thereby making it Laurence's immediate task to be his handler and harness him. Temeraire also has excellent speech and reasoning capabilities, popping out of the egg like some small professor-ish dragon, a Doogie Howser dragon. This is exceedingly rare, as most dragons known at that time either require lengthy effort to have such reasoning skills (learned with age) or simply are not capable of the quick thinking that Temeraire displays. Laurence and Temeraire's relationship is comparatively more like two gentleman smoking cigars around a fire discussing politics and mathematics and other logic games than a mentor/mentee or parent/child relationship even while the dragon is relatively young.

Another bit that bears some getting used to is the language in the book. It really does read more stiffly and with genteel decorum much like Austen's novels rather than include more contemporary language. Since it has this boundary, there are some slight crossovers in the world that have to be addressed from Austen's regency period to cover some modern ideas. For instance, Laurence has to explain about whores to Temeraire and dress down some young boys for their actions. There are also women avaitors flying dragons who wear men's clothing and for all manner of purpose are addressed as men rather than 'lady' or 'miss' so-and-so like they would have been in proper society. All in all, it's very entertaining, and I'm quite keen to read the next, Throne of Jade.

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.

2 People left their mark' :

  1. I adore this series! The relationship between Laurence and Temeraire continues to grow and develop through the books, each influencing the other. If you like audiobooks, Simon Vance narrates these, and he does a fantastic job.

    1. Thanks, Lark, for the tip! I'll be posting more about this series soon!