When the HMS Reliant captures a French ship in battle, they find in amongst its cargo something they never expected: a nearly-hatched dragon egg. Captain Will Laurence knows his ship won’t make it to port before the egg hatches — and an unharnessed dragon on a ship in the middle of the ocean could spell disaster.
Laurence is both surprised and chagrined when the dragon, named Temeraire, decides to bond with him. Now the pair must live and train with the Aviators, a secretive corps of dragons and their riders who have the potential to turn the tide of the Napoleonic Wars.
Alternate reality fantasy
Naomi Novik’s novel His Majesty’s Dragon is the first in her Temeraire series, set in the early 19th century of an alternate reality in which dragons are real, and partner with Aviators in military corps that aid their respective governments in time of conflict.
Novik’s series is set somewhere between 1803 and 1815, the years in which numerous countries declared war against Napoleon’s French empire.
Hit and miss
I loved Will Laurence and Temeraire, seeing their characters develop as individuals and as a team. The culture of the world—the way dragons and their riders interact, and how the world at large doesn’t quite understand them—was really interesting, and I loved reading about it.
But this book is at heart a novel about war. Descriptions of battles and vessels and military maneuvers were constant, and these did not interest me very much — I must confess to skimming many of these portions.
This was a good start to a series, and the preview of the next—Throne of Jade—was good; but I’m not sure I’m willing to muscle through the war scenarios to get to the text I really want.
If you like well-built fantasy/alternate reality worlds with plenty of strategy and battle talk, give His Majesty’s Dragon a shot.