- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey; Reissue edition (March 28 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780345481283
- ISBN-13: 978-0345481283
- ASIN: 0345481283
- Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 2.5 x 17.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 204 g
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #56,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
His Majesty's Dragon Mass Market Paperback – Mar 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.
*Starred Review* This is the first book in a superbly written, character-driven series, Temeraire, which conjures the Napoleonic-era military replete with aerial corps of fighting dragons and their handlers. When Captain Laurence of HMS Reliant takes a French frigate as a prize, the cargo includes a dragon egg due to hatch before the Reliant can reach a British aviators' base. When the hatchling chooses the captain to be his handler, Laurence's naval career comes to an end. He is now an aviator and a member of a service more tolerated than admired. Within very short order, he finds himself bonded with Temeraire, a most elegant and intelligent dragon, more closely than he has ever been bonded with anyone before, and that includes the lady he had thought he would marry. Novik fully integrates dragons into late-eighteenth-century military tactics and develops a convincing armed-service social milieu that includes the dragon corps. But what keeps one turning the pages is the urge to find out what happens next to Captain Laurence and Temeraire, characters who win one's heart from the beginning. Bravos for a most promising new author! Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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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. Novik stretches credibility here and there, but the first three volumes of her series are a solid, intelligent, often amusing adventure story.
"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.
Unfortunately, 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, especially since Laurence has some very unusual ideas about how to treat his dragon. 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 dragon Lien.
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.
"Temeraire Volumes 1-3" is a solid trio of alternate history stories, with plenty of adventure, humour and a lot of lovable dragons. Definitely worth flying with.
When I was younger, I couldn't explain to you what the qualities were that made a book great and now that I am older and better read, I can do so but it doesn't suffice to explain how a book can grip you.
Imagine my delight to find that this was such a book. What are the qualities that make it work? This is a historical novel that has been very well researched with an intriguing twist. What would the Napoleonic wars have been like with air power? What if that Air Power were dragons instead of machines? Add to that a very strong character development and themes that reflect the struggles of that day, many of which are still being wrestled with today and you have a multi-faceted novel with several hooks well-set and ready to catch any readers who cross its path.
The dialogue between characters is masterful and captures a quality that very few authors manage to develop. I found myself reminded in places of the dialogue typical of David Eddings' fantasy that captures the natural, easy and affectionate relationship. Further, the flowing dialogue captures cultural nuances and differences that moves beyond what could easily become stereotypical and lands smack dab in the middle of believable and accurate for that day and age.
This book has been very strongly researched and considered on several levels and the hard work shows. Historical fiction it is to be sure and the characters are fictional and even those historical figures referenced are put into fictional settings, but what is not fictional is the understanding of military tactics, cultural nuances and relationships that leave the reader feeling that if this story is not true, it should be!
I took advantage of downloading this book on my Kindle for free, thinking it might help to spend some time on a long commute. It was calculated no doubt as a loss lead to entice readers to then download the next 4 books in the series and I cheerfully concede that they planned well as far as I was concerned.
An outstanding introduction to an outstanding series and it's nice to know that even in one grown older and far removed from some of the early magical reading experiences, that there are authors like Novic who can weave that magic and draw a reader in.
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