His Majesty’s Dragon

By Naomi Novik

Fantasy

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Paperback: His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1)

Kindle Edition: His Majesty’s Dragon

In a Nutshell:

I have some questions for you. Do you like fantasy? Do you like alternate history? Do you enjoy dragons? Are you a fan of novels depicting life in the British military when the empire was coming into its own? Do you enjoy fiction set in the Napoleonic era?

If you answered yes to any of those questions then it’s a safe bet you’ll enjoy His Majesty’s Dragon. The hook, aerial flight via live dragons set in a historical era, is so mind bogglingly simple that I’m surprised it hasn’t been done more often.

But His Majesty’s Dragon is far more than a clever plot hook. I’m sure the idea of dragons fighting alongside Nelson would be enough to hook a few dragon or history enthusiasts, but what kept me turning the pages was the characterization. Captain Lawrence is a fascinating example of a contemporary gentleman who is forced to reevaluate his entire life after a dragon comes along and destroys the old career he’d worked for his entire life while at the same time opening a door to a new more fulfilling career he’d never imagined. The interactions between the dragons and their handlers is fascinating reading as well and justifiably takes center stage in the book.

Warnings:

His Majesty’s Dragon is foremost a character driven affair. There are a few action sequences, to be sure. You can hardly have a novel about dragons fighting the Napoleonic wars without a bit of action. But they feel almost incidental to the main thrust of the novel which is to get a feel for the era and show how the characters react to events.

The upshot is that iff you’re expecting Clancyesque alternative history contemporary technology technoporn book akin to Eric Flint’s 16XX series then you’re going to be disappointed. On the other hand, if you want an interesting character study that explores how modern society developed with dragons thrown into the mix then you can’t miss with this book.