Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Review: "His Majesty's Dragon"

Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon (Del Rey, 2006) was one of the most-ordered books for LibraryThing's SantaThing program this year, and when I mentioned that I hadn't heard of it, a chorus of fans urged me to give it a read. I'm glad I did: what fun! Novik's created a fascinating alternative history where dragons thrive and are deployed as massive and effective combat units.

When Captain Will Laurence of the Royal Navy and his crew capture a French frigate, little do they know that stowed beneath the decks is an extremely valuable, and ready-to-hatch dragon egg. Laurence's life changes in an instant when the dragon, Temeraire, emerges from his shell, and the unlikely pair find themselves called upon to serve king and country against Bonaparte's French forces (which utilize a whole host of their own dragons, of course).

Novik's talents at building a richly-textured world, complete with historical and scientific background on dragon-breeding and a complex Aerial Corps culture, are prodigious. And Temeraire - well, if you can make it through this book without wanting to spend an afternoon conversing with this fictional dragon ... what a character.

Sort of like the Aubrey-Maturin books, but with dragons. Certainly good fun, and a wonderful way to lose a few hours. I've already sent for the next two books in the series.

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