His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

13 Feb
Wow, this was an incredible book. Incroyable. Increíble. Whatever language you want to say it in, it’s true. I’d heard about His Majesty’s Dragon for several years now, and finally picked it up on a recent trip to the used book store. For series especially, I like to try them out used first so I can make sure I like the books before I invest my dinero. I am a happy girl after reading this book, because I have several more books in Novik’s Temeraire series to look forward to.

Captain Will Laurence is an officer in England’s navy during the Napoleonic Wars and has built his career on diligence, honor, and duty. When his ship overtakes a French vessel and captures it, he claims all of its property, including a rare and valuable dragon’s egg. Dragons are highly valued weapons of war, and taking this egg from the French is a high honor. However, it soon becomes apparent to the English crew that the egg is about to hatch, and by extension, it will need to claim a rider. Laurence realizes that someone among his crew will need to forgo his naval career, give up all semblance of a civilized life, and join the Aerial Corps, rumored to be an isolated and ragtag group of military men. Through a twist of fate, Laurence unexpectedly finds himself chosen by the dragon when it hatches, who he then names Temeraire. Laurence and Temeraire must now learn what it means to be a precise military team as they form their own bond, and their newfound ties are tested through both emotional and physical trials.

I’ve never read Patrick O’Brian’s famous naval series, but I imagine that His Majesty’s Dragon is closely akin to it. There’s a ton of military strategy and the ins and outs of what it means to serve your country during this time in England. I didn’t know I’d be interested in flying formations, or how a group of smaller dragons might transport and protect a larger dragon while under attack, but I absolutely was! Novik shares that unique skill of Susanna Clarke, where they are able to completely immerse the voice and tone of their novels in the setting, enabling the reader to completely lose herself in the atmosphere.

Likewise, Novik’s characterization is perfect. Laurence is so…himself. He’s a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, as he’s very concerned with propriety and the proper way to pack a bag and dress oneself. On the flip side, he’s fair-minded and open to new experience. His relationship with Temeraire is so loving and trusting, and they have a real meeting of the minds. Temeraire is insatiably curious and adventurous and loves Laurence to no end. Far from being “just a dragon”, he is erudite, witty, and playful. In fact, I love how Novik portrayed the dragons in this book. They’re not your standard dragons, ready to breath fire and be impressive. They are their own beings, with a culture and psyche completely unique to themselves. A dragon and its rider are a true partnership, and the realistic and completely logical way dragons have been integrated into early 1800s Europe is truly amazing. I honestly can’t wait to read more of this series.

4 Responses to “His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik”

  1. Off the Wall February 13, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    Wow, sounds great! Kinda like a reverse Avatar, with dragons in the past instead of the future.

    • Amanda February 13, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      Yeah, it was like an alternate history, with the real past blending seamlessly with a fantasy element. So, so interesting.

  2. Rebecca February 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    This totally sounds like my kind of book. I like a good alternate history, and I LOVE a dragon story where the dragons aren’t evil. I’ll definitely have to pick this up.

    • Amanda February 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      Rebecca, it’s sooo good. I need to get myself a dragon. 🙂

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