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His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – March 28, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In this delightful first novel, the opening salvo of a trilogy, Novik seamlessly blends fantasy into the history of the Napoleonic wars. Here be dragons, beasts that can speak and reason, bred for strength and speed and used for aerial support in battle. Each nation has its own breeds, but none are so jealously guarded as the mysterious dragons of China. Veteran Capt. Will Laurence of the British Navy is therefore taken aback after his crew captures an egg from a French ship and it hatches a Chinese dragon, which Laurence names Temeraire. When Temeraire bonds with the captain, the two leave the navy to sign on with His Majesty's sadly understaffed Aerial Corps, which takes on the French in sprawling, detailed battles that Novik renders with admirable attention to 19th-century military tactics. Though the dragons they encounter are often more fully fleshed-out than the stereotypical human characters, the author's palpable love for her subject and a story rich with international, interpersonal and internal struggles more than compensate. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Published as Temeraire in the U.K., His Majestys Dragon is the first of a planned trilogy (The Throne of Jade and Black Powder War will appear in 2006). Amply praised by SF writers, this original alternate-reality historical SF novel stands fully on its own. Against the convincing backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, Novik limns fantastical battle scenes, creates emotionally astute and appealing characters (dragon included), and provides unique insight into dragons, their abilities, and their breeding combinations. At center stage lies Temeraires and Laurences strong bond, one critics hope Novik will explore in future novels. His Majestys Dragon, notes Fantasy Bookspot, is more than a "worthy choice for those looking for a new series to indulge yourself in for the new year." But youll have to wait: it wont be released until the end of March.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Same and not the same, people. Same and not the same.
Meet Will Laurence:
[image of James Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean]
Laurence is a Captain in the British Navy. He is a perfect gentlemen. He is ostentatiously dull.
And while there is significant character growth throughout the book, it is completely in regards to the small-mindedness that comes with his gentleman status, having no impact whatsoever on the dull, dull, dullness of his disposition.
And maybe this is irrelevant, and maybe it isn't. I don't know. What I do know is that b/c I have James Norrington in my head, every time Laurence is on the page---and that's pretty much all the time---all I can think is:
Why on earth would you write a Norrington-like character, when you could write a Will Turner :
[image of Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean]
or Jack Sparrow :
[image of Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean]
type character instead?
Especially, when the Norrington-type character has a DRAGON? B/c really? What would Norrington do with a dragon?
Funnily enough, I now feel qualified to answer that question: not much.
That's not to say it didn't have its moments. Obviously, it did. B/c dragon.
Temeraire was probably my favorite part of the book. BUT. I couldn’t completely enjoy his character, b/c Novik states early on that Chinese dragons are bred for intelligence, and after establishing that fact, uses him to spout insightful and ahead-of-his-time political ideals. BUT. For an insightful character to be perceived as insightful (for me, anyway), he needs to be spouting universal truths, timeless wisdoms, or exposing easily overlooked, but once pointed out, clear flaws in a majority mindset.
All Temeraire does is say things like:
"Some of the laws which I have heard make very little sense, and I do not know that I would obey them if it were not to oblige you. It seems to me that if you wish to apply laws to us, it were only reasonable to consult us on them, and from what you have read to me about Parliament, I do not think any dragons are invited to go there."
Which, yes, is amusing, but not particularly clever.
I also enjoyed Laurence’s pragmatic observations, which were quietly humorous and made me snicker at regular intervals. Like when it’s discovered that the dragon egg they acquired will hatch before reaching land and one of the crew will have to bond with the hatchling, meaning that he'll be forced to leave the respectable Navy to join the disreputable Dragon Aviators.
Laurence is determined—as any gentleman would be—to proceed in all fairness:
" . . . though if Fanshawe had not spoken in so unbecoming a way, Laurence would have liked to keep Carver out of it, as he knew the boy had a poor head for heights, which struck him as a grave impediment for an aviator."
But regular though those intervals were, they were not enough to overwhelm the blah.
Most of the blah was the result of Laurence's stodginess, but while it's one thing to accurately reflect the attitudes of the period in which a book is set, it's quite another to tacitly endorse them:
(https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/615142614 to see spoiler)
I also found it difficult to believe that a man so distraught over the inability to pursue elements essential to his own happiness---like a wife, children, and a quiet life in the country---after becoming saddled with a dragon, could transition into his new life so completely, even going so far as to compare overzealously praising Temeraire to the exasperating drivel spewed from men too enamored of their own relations:
"With difficulty he restrained himself from boasting further; nothing, he was sure, could be more irritating, like one of those men who could not atop talking of the beauty of their mistress, or the cleverness of their children."
Then there were the inconsistencies. Like how Temeraire's egg managed to survive aboard a cold, damp boat for a month or more, and afterwards being told that the dragon eggs are kept in hottest part of the training facility's Roman baths, b/c the female dragons have neither the time nor inclination to sit on them until they hatch, and they can't be buried in the hot ash at the base of a volcano, b/c no volcanoes.
I heard a sermon once where the pastor quoted something about the saints crying out, "How long?" in reference to church-services-that-never-end, and it was both shocking and hilarious enough to stick with me.
And when I found myself crying out, “How long?” several times while reading His Majesty’s Dragon, I was surprised b/c it’s not a particularly lengthy book.
But by golly, it felt like it was.
SO. If you like novels of manners, the Napoleonic Wars, and dragons, then by all means, read this book. I am a lone quantity. Everyone else seems to LOVE His Majesty's Dragon, it won all kinds of awards, and even I will admit that it is incredibly well written. Novik is a superb method writer, if there is such a thing. HOWEVER . . . if you aren't crazy about the idea of a gentlemanly account of said war, but think it might be okay b/c DRAGONS . . . I strongly suggest that you are mistaken.
Laurence has been a navy man and ship captain most of his life but when some unexpected loot from a French ship ends up being a dragon egg he is cast into role of rider to a new hatchling dragon and the life he thought he would have is now over.
I was entertained by learning what it takes to raise a dragon and see how they are incorporated into society and warfare. It was different than I expected as Dragons are pretty sentient and can speak right out of the shell. I also didn’t expect the unique relationship between rider and dragon. Sometimes they spoke to each other almost like a couple. While a little strange I did like the strong bound that formed between a Dragon and the Rider they chose at hatching.
Not a lot happens in the actual plot. There is a lot of training and Laurence getting used to how different the Arial Force is from the Navy. First of all there are women riders which is a huge change from the life he lived before. Most of this story is the life of having a Dragon and what it entails. There are a few battles and some tense moments but for the most part it is a story of a boy and his dragon.
Laurence is a bit stiff but it fits with the timeframe of the book and since he is English. I did want him to loosen up a bit more. Temeraire on the other hand is so obviously loyal to Laurence and pretty charming that he made the book all that more enjoyable for me.
If you haven’t read a Naomi Novak book yet I still say go with Uprooted first but she has a great writing style that can bring you into a new world and keep you there easily.