“His Majesty’s Dragon” by Naomi Novik
Series: Temeraire – Book 1
What do you get when get when you mix Napoleon, dragons, and war? You get the series Temeraire and the first book “His Majesty’s Dragon.” This was a cool and fun story with a different take on dragons and how we interact with them. Normally we have stories about dragons that are burning down villages or protecting hoards of treasure that some adventurer is seeking out. Naomi Novik went a different route and intertwined their existence with humans. Instead of having fighter other types of Air Force in this world, A.K.A. Aerial Corps, is all about dragons.
The story is about the war going on with England and Napoleon. England has a great seems to lack a little bit in the dragon category. It is also centered around a dragon named Temeraire and his who was a captain in the Royal Navy. The story is all about their trials and tribulations of training for the Dragon Air Force if you will.
On one particular mission a captain of an English ship, Captain Laurence, defeats and commanders a French ship. Onboard they uncover a rare find; a dragon egg. No one really knows what to do with the dragon how to care for the egg, but they do their best knowing that England is in need of more dragons.
Well, one of the things with dragons is, when dragons hatch, they attach themselves to one person and they become a lifelong team. this dragon hatches he just happens to choose Laurence as his partner. (Who didn’t see that one coming?)
Well after some anguish and torment over what to do the Laurence decides to give up his career in the Royal Navy and join the Aerial Corp as the Handler for the dragon. Being the handler of a dragon comes with the responsibility of naming the dragon, and Laurence names his dragon Temeraire.
Soon he is departing for a covert in England for training purposes. All the handlers and dragons get sent to these training camps to learn aerial maneuvers and combat. Laurence spends the next months almost like a cadet again, waking at dawn and spending all day training with Temeraire.
Until... Napoleon is on the move and dragons are needed. All training has led up to this day. What will happen next!?
The opening fight scene wasn't a very dramatic scene, but it was enough to draw you into the story. It wasn't full of blood and guts and gore. It was poignant to the story and didn't take as long as need be. The rest of the story in the beginning was just trying to get the reader to understand how important dragons were to each country. Without the dragons the security of countries was at risk. Naomi Novik also went into the relationship between handler and dragon. Explaining the essential aspects of the relationship and the intelligence and sapience of the dragon. I feel this was overdone and space could have been used for more action scenes. It started to feel like the beginning was just dragging on and on without much going on. Just when I was about to put down the book, ta-da, some interesting stuff happened.
The bulk of the book takes place with Laurence and Temeraire at the training covert. It delves deeper into the relationship that they have built together. it also demonstrates the lack of relationships that some handlers have with the dragons, treating them like mindless animals. In my mind I was quietly rooting for Laurence as he was a bad ass to the handlers who didn't keep their dragon up to snuff if you will. This went on for about the second bulk of the book. Again I felt this went on far too long without much going on. At this point I was too far into the book to put it I thought that I would just plug away and finish the book.
I'm glad I finished the book. The ending was full of action, but it took quite a while to get there. I was able to see all the dragons fighting together and how it all worked. I was able to see Temeraire fight and discover new abilities. It was action that I wish this book had a little bit more of during the entire story. Not just at the end.
Overall I like the book. I'd give it about 3 stars. It just seemed to drag on little too much for me in too many part of the story. I will definitely be giving book 2 a shot. With all the introduction stuff out of the way in book 1 hopefully there will be more conflict and action in the rest of the series.