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In His Majesty's Service: Three Novels of Temeraire (His Majesty's Service, Throne of Jade, and Black Powder War) [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Naomi Novik
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Book Description

Oct. 27 2009
Together in one volume, here are the first three novels in Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestselling Temeraire series, combining the gripping history of the Napoleonic era, the thrill of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books, and the excitement of Patrick O’Brian’s seafaring adventures. In His Majesty’s Service also includes an exclusive original Temeraire short story.

Capt. Will Laurence is serving with honor in the British Navy when his ship captures a French frigate harboring most a unusual cargo–an incalculably valuable dragon egg. When the egg hatches, Laurence unexpectedly becomes the master of the young dragon Temeraire and finds himself on an extraordinary journey that will shatter his orderly, respectable life and alter the course of his nation’s history.

Thrust into England’s Aerial Corps, Laurence and Temeraire undergo rigorous training while staving off French forces intent on breaching British soil. But the pair has more than France to contend with when China learns that an imperial dragon intended for Napoleon–Temeraire himself– has fallen into British hands. The emperor summons the new pilot and his dragon to the Far East, a long voyage fraught with peril and intrigue. From England’s shores to China’s palaces, from the Silk Road’s outer limits to the embattled borders of Prussia and Poland, Laurence and Temeraire must defend their partnership and their country from powerful adversaries around the globe. But can they succeed against the massed forces of Bonaparte’s implacable army?


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About the Author

Naomi Novik received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the 2007 World Science Fiction Convention. Along with the three novels in this collection, she is the acclaimed author of Empire of Ivory and Victory of Eagles, the fourth and fifth volumes in the Temeraire series, which has been optioned by Peter Jackson, the Academy Award—winning director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A history buff with a particular interest in the Napoleonic era, Novik studied English literature at Brown University, then did graduate work in computer science at Columbia University before leaving to participate in the design and development of the computer game Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide. Novik lives in New York City with her husband and six computers.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One


The deck of the French ship was slippery with blood, heaving in the choppy sea; a stroke might as easily bring down the man making it as the intended target. Laurence did not have time in the heat of the battle to be surprised at the degree of resistance, but even through the numbing haze of battle-fever and the confusion of swords and pistol-smoke, he marked the extreme look of anguish on the French captain’s face as the man shouted encouragement to his men.

It was still there shortly thereafter, when they met on the deck, and the man surrendered his sword, very reluctantly: at the last moment his hand half-closed about the blade, as if he meant to draw it back. Laurence looked up to make certain the colors had been struck, then accepted the sword with a mute bow; he did not speak French himself, and a more formal exchange would have to wait for the presence of his third lieutenant, that young man being presently engaged belowdecks in securing the French guns. With the cessation of hostilities, the remaining Frenchmen were all virtually dropping where they stood; Laurence noticed that there were fewer of them than he would have expected for a frigate of thirty-six guns, and that they looked ill and hollow-cheeked.

Many of them lay dead or dying upon the deck; he shook his head at the waste and eyed the French captain with disapproval: the man should never have offered battle. Aside from the plain fact that the Reliant would have had the Amitié slightly outgunned and outmanned under the best of circumstances, the crew had obviously been reduced by disease or hunger. To boot, the sails above them were in a sad tangle, and that no result of the battle, but of the storm which had passed but this morning; they had barely managed to bring off a single broadside before the Reliant had closed and boarded. The captain was obviously deeply overset by the defeat, but he was not a young man to be carried away by his spirits: he ought to have done better by his men than to bring them into so hopeless an action.

“Mr. Riley,” Laurence said, catching his second lieutenant’s attention, “have our men carry the wounded below.” He hooked the captain’s sword on his belt; he did not think the man deserved the compliment of having it returned to him, though ordinarily he would have done so. “And pass the word for Mr. Wells.”

“Very good, sir,” Riley said, turning to issue the necessary orders. Laurence stepped to the railing to look down and see what damage the hull had taken. She looked reasonably intact, and he had ordered his own men to avoid shots below the waterline; he thought with satisfaction that there would be no difficulty in bringing her into port.

His hair had slipped out of his short queue, and now fell into his eyes as he looked over. He impatiently pushed it out of the way as he turned back, leaving streaks of blood upon his forehead and the sun-bleached hair; this, with his broad shoulders and his severe look, gave him an unconsciously savage appearance as he surveyed his prize, very unlike his usual thoughtful expression.

Wells climbed up from below in response to the summons and came to his side. “Sir,” he said, without waiting to be addressed, “begging your pardon, but Lieutenant Gibbs says there is something queer in the hold.”

“Oh? I will go and look,” Laurence said. “Pray tell this gentleman,” he indicated the French captain, “that he must give me his parole, for himself and his men, or they must be confined.”

The French captain did not immediately respond; he looked at his men with a miserable expression. They would of course do much better if they could be kept spread out through the lower deck, and any recapture was a practical impossibility under the circumstances; still he hesitated, drooped, and finally husked, “Je me rends,” with a look still more wretched.

Laurence gave a short nod. “He may go to his cabin,” he told Wells, and turned to step down into the hold. “Tom, will you come along? Very good.”

He descended with Riley on his heels, and found his first lieutenant waiting for him. Gibbs’s round face was still shining with sweat and emotion; he would be taking the prize into port, and as she was a frigate, he almost certainly would be made post, a captain himself. Laurence was only mildly pleased; though Gibbs had done his duty reasonably, the man had been imposed on him by the Admiralty and they had not become intimates. He had wanted Riley in the first lieutenant’s place, and if he had been given his way, Riley would now be the one getting his step. That was the nature of the service, and he did not begrudge Gibbs the good fortune; still, he did not rejoice quite so wholeheartedly as he would have to see Tom get his own ship.

“Very well; what’s all this, then?” Laurence said now; the hands were clustered about an oddly placed bulkhead towards the stern area of the hold, neglecting the work of cataloguing the captured ship’s stores.

“Sir, if you will step this way,” Gibbs said. “Make way there,” he ordered, and the hands backed away from what Laurence now saw was a doorway set inside a wall that had been built across the back of the hold; recently, for the lumber was markedly lighter than the surrounding planks.

Ducking through the low door, he found himself in a small chamber with a strange appearance. The walls had been reinforced with actual metal, which must have added a great deal of unnecessary weight to the ship, and the floor was padded with old sailcloth; in addition, there was a small coal-stove in the corner, though this was not presently in use. The only object stored within the room was a large crate, roughly the height of a man’s waist and as wide, and this was made fast to the floor and walls by means of thick hawsers attached to metal rings.

Laurence could not help feeling the liveliest curiosity, and after a moment’s struggle he yielded to it. “Mr. Gibbs, I think we shall have a look inside,” he said, stepping out of the way. The top of the crate was thoroughly nailed down, but eventually yielded to the many willing hands; they pried it off and lifted out the top layer of packing, and many heads craned forward at the same time to see.

No one spoke, and in silence Laurence stared at the shining curve of eggshell rising out of the heaped straw; it was scarcely possible to believe. “Pass the word for Mr. Pollitt,” he said at last; his voice sounded only a little strained. “Mr. Riley, pray be sure those lashings are quite secure.”

Riley did not immediately answer, too busy staring; then he jerked to attention and said, hastily, “Yes, sir,” and bent to check the bindings.

Laurence stepped closer and gazed down at the egg. There could hardly be any doubt as to its nature, though he could not say for sure from his own experience. The first amazement passing, he tentatively reached out and touched the surface, very cautiously: it was smooth and hard to the touch. He withdrew almost at once, not wanting to risk doing it some harm.

Mr. Pollitt came down into the hold in his awkward way, clinging to the ladder edges with both hands and leaving bloody prints upon it; he was no kind of a sailor, having become a naval surgeon only at the late age of thirty, after some unspecified disappointments on land. He was nevertheless a genial man, well liked by the crew, even if his hand was not always the steadiest at the operating table. “Yes, sir?” he said, then saw the egg. “Good Lord above.”

“It is a dragon egg, then?” Laurence said. It required an effort to restrain the triumph in his voice.

“Oh, yes indeed, Captain, the size alone shows that.” Mr. Pollitt had wiped his hands on his apron and was already brushing more straw away from the top, trying to see the extent. “My, it is quite hardened already; I wonder what they can have been thinking, so far from land.”

This did not sound very promising. “Hardened?” Laurence said sharply. “What does that mean?”

“Why, that it will hatch soon. I will have to consult my books to be certain, but I believe that Badke’s Bestiary states with authority that when the shell has fully hardened, hatching will occur within a week. What a splendid specimen, I must get my measuring cords.”

He bustled away, and Laurence exchanged a glance with Gibbs and Riley, moving closer so they might speak without being overheard by the lingering gawkers. “At least three weeks from Madeira with a fair wind, would you say?” Laurence said quietly.

“At best, sir,” Gibbs said, nodding.

“I cannot imagine how they came to be here with it,” Riley said. “What do you mean to do, sir?”

His initial satisfaction turning gradually into dismay as he realized the very difficult situation, Laurence stared at the egg blankly. Even in the dim lantern light, it shone with the warm luster of marble. “Oh, I am damned if I know, Tom. But I suppose I will go and return the French captain his sword; it is no wonder he fought so furiously after all.”





Except of course he did know; there was only one possible solution, unpleasant as it might be to contemplate. Laurence watched broodingly while the egg was transferred, still in its crate, over to the Reliant: the only grim man, except for the French officers. He had granted them the liberty of the quarterdeck, and they watched the slow process glumly from the rail. All around them, smiles wreathed every sailor’s face, private, gloating smiles, and there was a great deal of jostling among the idle hands, with many unnecessary cautions and pieces of advice called out to the sweating group of men engaged in the actual bus...

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dragons at war May 16 2010
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Imagine if the Napoleonic wars had been fought using an air force... of dragons.

That idea is the root of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series -- an alternate-history fantasy that explores the idea of a Horatio Hornbloweresque navy officer who suddenly finds a dragon uprooting his life. And in the first three books of her series, compiled in "In His Majesty's Service," Novik stretches credibility here and there, but her stories are a solid, intelligent, often amusing adventure story. Oh, and having seen the new omnibus edition, I would like to add that I only saw paperback copies.

"His Majesty's Dragon" enters the scene when Captain William Laurence's Reliant captures a French ship -- which turns out to have a dragon egg in its hold. And when the baby dragon hatches, it decides it wants Laurence and no other to be its rider. But accepting the dragon (now named Temeraire) means giving up his Navy commission and joining the Air Corps -- especially since Temeraire violently rejects the idea of accepting another rider. Both rider and dragon have a lot of learning to do. But as the bond between them grows and Temeraire grows rapidly to maturity, the Napoleonic Wars are raging -- and Temeraire's true power hasn't yet been shown.

And in "Throne of Jade," an ill-tempered Chinese prince demands that Temeraire be returned to the Imperial family. Temeraire and Laurence are having none of that -- and when they can't tempt away Temeraire, both dragon and rider are sent to China, along with the prince and his entourage. But the journey is full of storms and assassinations, and China turns out to be no less dangerous as Laurence learns of plot around Temeraire.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  62 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dragons and war Oct. 27 2009
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Imagine if the Napoleonic wars had been fought using an air force... of dragons.

That idea is the root of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series -- an alternate-history fantasy that explores the idea of a Horatio Hornbloweresque navy officer who suddenly finds a dragon uprooting his life. And in the first three books of her series, compiled in "In His Majesty's Service," Novik stretches credibility here and there, but her stories are a solid, intelligent, often amusing adventure story. Oh, and having seen the new omnibus edition, I would like to add that I only saw paperback copies.

"His Majesty's Dragon" enters the scene when Captain William Laurence's Reliant captures a French ship -- which turns out to have a dragon egg in its hold. And when the baby dragon hatches, it decides it wants Laurence and no other to be its rider. But accepting the dragon (now named Temeraire) means giving up his Navy commission and joining the Air Corps -- especially since Temeraire violently rejects the idea of accepting another rider. Both rider and dragon have a lot of learning to do. But as the bond between them grows and Temeraire grows rapidly to maturity, the Napoleonic Wars are raging -- and Temeraire's true power hasn't yet been shown.

And in "Throne of Jade," an ill-tempered Chinese prince demands that Temeraire be returned to the Imperial family. Temeraire and Laurence are having none of that -- and when they can't tempt away Temeraire, both dragon and rider are sent to China, along with the prince and his entourage. But the journey is full of storms and assassinations, and China turns out to be no less dangerous as Laurence learns of plot around Temeraire.

Having returned from China, Laurence and Temeraire don't even get to go home before being thrown into "Black Powder War." They're sent straight to Istanbul to pick up three dragon eggs sold to England by the Ottoman Empire -- only to deal with deal with wild dragons (who alone make the book worth reading) a treacherous Sultan, and the vengeful albino Celestial Lien.

Then there's a special short story unique to this omnibus -- the story of Lien's first weeks among Napoleon's forces, and her haughty disgust with everything about it (including the less refined European dragons, whom the generals want her to breed with). But she's determined to stick it out, so she can revenge herself for her prince.

The Temeraire series is what Christopher Paolini's books SHOULD have been -- a richly-drawn, intelligent series about the bond between a young man and his dragon. Novik still has some rough spots in her first three books ("His Majesty's Dragon" is rather short on plot, "Black Powder War" short on characterization) but they are undeniably fascinating meshes of what 19th century war would have been like if there had been dragons.

She conjures up a pretty fascinating world, giving dragons different breeds, quirks, biological features (they blast acid, fire, even sonic waves), and relationships with their riders (one poor little dragon whose rider treats him like a disposable vehicle). There's even some delving into dragon rights -- are the dragons being treated like slaves?

And despite long stretches of traveling over land and sea (often for months), Novik keeps it interesting with lush, detailed writing and some truly thrilling aerial battles aboard the vast dragons. On land, there's plenty of gentle comic relief ("I am afraid that some of them go there to drink, and keep low company." "Oh, you mean whores!") and lots of messy eating.

Temeraire and Laurence are a study in contrasts. The human is mannered, thoughtful and very tied to society's mores, while the dragon has a child's enthusiasm, curiosity, honesty and stubbornness (and frankly he's an adorable little dragon). There's also a colorful collection of supporting characters -- fellow Corps dragons Lily and Maximus, the malignant Prince Yongxhing, the mysterious Tharkay, and many others.

"In His Majesty's Service" is a solid trio of alternate history stories, with plenty of adventure, humour and a lot of lovable dragons. Definitely worth flying with.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this binding book than the mass paperback! Nov. 3 2009
By leoliger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First of all, this is a book that is being sold as three books in one:
His Majesty's dragon
Throne of Jade
Black Power War.

I like this version of a repeat being sold by Del Rey books. I don't own the mass paperback versions on the three books that are being in this one compilation. At first I thought this was to be a completely new story by Naomi Novik, but it wasn't, just the publisher selling more copies of previous novels in the series. However, I liked it that way. I wanted to get all the books in the series, eventually, but I don't like paperbacks. They don't last very long in my hands. When this version came out and read carefully that it was three books in one, I wanted to get it. I liked the cover and I don't have extra books lying around of the same series.

This book is hardcover bound with deckle edge pages. To me this makes it a cool looking book. I am a fan of this series, and I love how Naomi Novik tells the story. Very compelling and fast paced storyline.

Now, if you have previous mass paperback versions of this series, don't get this book. You will have the impression that it is a totally new story line, but it isn't. Another thing to point out is that this version comes with a side story never released before called "In Autumn, A White Dragon Looks Over The Wide River". This side story is about Lein and her side of the story. But this little scene is less than 20 pages long. If you are a fan of the series, this is a great book.

Reason for getting this book:
1. If you DO NOT have mass paperback verisons.
2. Want the first three book in one book.
3. Want the never-before-read scenes of Lein's side of the story.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful edition of the first three books in the series Nov. 21 2009
By book-loving mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
'In His Majesty's Service' arrived today, and it's a great replacement for our much-loved, worn-out paperback copies of the first three Temeraire books. Beautiful illustration on the dust jacket, and I like the new font for the text.

My 10-year-old son and I can't wait for book 6!

P.S. I hope books 4-6 will eventually be published in a single hardcover volume as well.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Collection Dec 29 2009
By Sonoma Lass - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have a hard believing that anyone could buy this book without realizing that it's a collection of previously published books (with a new short story). If you did make that mistake, though, is that a legitimate reason to give the collection a bad review?

I hope people who read these reviews note that the one-star reviews are almost all from people who loved these books, but who didn't pay attention to the description and thought they were buying a new book in the series. These are wonderful books, but YES, this is a re-release of the first three books, NOT a new book, just like it says in the description, and on the cover. This new edition is really attractive and makes a great gift. The early books were never released in hardcover, so I hope all of them will eventually be re-released in collectible editions.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A smart, insurgent Dragon May 10 2013
By Dion Morse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is an underpinning of sardonic humor in Naomi Novik's writing which I find delightful. Temeraire (the Celestial Dragon) has a wide eyed, idealistic vision of the world which seems to grow with each book. He is developing a dragon rights stance which is reminiscent of the late 1960's - but entrenched in the Napoleonic era. The suspension of disbelief is complete as Ms. Novik has a great command of the nuances of this period with a ... why not add dragons to the mix?

And why not? The stories work, the characters are all nicely flawed, there are heroes and villains and even a romance or two. One of my favorite scenes is when Temeraire is introduced to the Captains mother and the ensuing conversation between a dowager and a 9 ton dragon. Wonderful stuff ... get the three volume collection and look forward to enjoying a few sleepless nights.
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