Paperback Perils: His Majesty’s Dragon

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Title: His Majesty’s Dragon
Author: Naomi Novik
Publication Date: 2006
Publishing House: Ballantine Books

I have known about this series since high school when a friend gave me the second book in the series but Throne of Jade has sat on my bookshelf for years, never read. More recently I read Spinning Silver and Uprooted, which are also by Naomi Novik. Having enjoyed those books I managed to find a copy of the first book in the Temeraire series at a used bookstore and pandemic gave me time to read. I’m so glad that I did.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain 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 flew through this book because dragons. Overall it is a fantastic read. The dragons in this series have personalities and can speak human languages. They are daring fighters and unafraid of combat but surprisingly playful when among friends. They are also unsurprisingly fierce protectors of their captains and crew.

Captain Laurence was not raised in the Aerial Corps from childhood and when he bonds with hatchling dragon Temeraire he brings fresh ideas and needed changes to the Aerial Corps. In truth he and Temeraire both do for though this version of the history has unintelligent dragons Temeraire is not one of them. He asks questions and thinks for himself, sometimes with dangerous ideas.

One of the things that bothers me about this series is how the dragons are treated. Temeraire is in his first battle before his first birthday. For as intelligent as the dragons are they are treated as animals, as tools. To a point the dragons don’t care because they know nothing else, this has been their life for generations. In part this in intentional, the author writes it as a reflection of the time and it is an issues that is actively addressed. But it is little things that are changed in this book, such as Laurence taking the time to wash Temeraire and remove his harness when not flying. I look forward to seeing how these little changes grow over the series.

I recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy, who love history and don’t mind it being turned on its head, and for those that wish they too could fly on dragon back. Happy reading.

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