Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 95/200
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
Finished on 6/17/2018
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.
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Dragons, Alternate History, Flintlock Fantasy, High Fantasy
How to Train your Dragon Battleship
Guys and Gals, I’ve got to make an embarrassing admission: I’m a fan of Flintlock Fantasy and I’ve never read the Temeraire books before. Let me start this review by calmly explaining how much I loved this book.
AAAAAAAHHHHHH! IT’S AMAZING!
*Cough* Okay, enough of that. This book was highly enjoyable. A cross between Napoleonic Era Britain and The Dragonriders of Pern, we have a respectable naval Captain Laurence forceably becoming the pilot of the cute dragon Temeraire.
I think the weakest part of the book was the plot. We have a hodgepodge of events collected in a single book without a uniting theme or antagonist besides the vague threat of ‘Napoleon’ who’s somewhere over the channel. There wasn’t a central plot connecting the three parts of the book- part 1 is about Laurance and Temeraire getting to know one another, part 2 is them going to dragonrider school, and part 3 is the pair of them engaging in battle with the French.
If you want to stretch the definition of antagonist, you can say ‘France’ was the antagonist throughout… but ‘France’ as an antagonist doesn’t make for a very personal enemy. I think this was the main problem with the plot: there wasn’t a ‘bad guy’ introduced in the first part for me the reader to glom onto and love to hate.
I loved the characters in this book. All of them were strong (if trope-y). Reading this reminded me of some Napoleonic-era British movies and TV I’ve watched, with stuck-up high class officers and resentful low class soldiers. The Brits were all well written. And the dragons… Well, I liked Temeraire, but it was Levitas who broke my heart.
I liked the setting. Not only is this a British Napoleonic era story with dragons, but there are hints that there are an Incan and Chinese empires (with concordant species of dragons) as well. In battle the dragons are basically used as flying boats, with musketeers and bomb-throwers on board the dragons attacking armies on the ground. It was cool.
The pacing was quick but with plenty of slower character-building moments where we can relax and breathe. I like the flying combat, because it was very detailed and punched things up a lot, but the combat never devoured the entire plot. Honestly this was my favorite part of the book, the fact that the book never put a foot out of place.
Overall I loved it quite a lot. I will be reading more in the weeks to come.