Monday, August 13, 2012

Temeraire series by Naomi Novik

Summary (of the first book, His Majesty's Dragon): Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies . . . not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.
When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. 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.
(courtesy of the author's site)
And here's what I thought:   I don't think I've ever posted a review of a series --- but I've been reading my way through these books, and enjoying every one of them, so I thought I'd just do a general sort of review, instead.
As you can see from the above summary, the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik combine the Napoleonic Wars with dragons.  Sounds crazy, yes?   That's what I thought when I picked up the first book.   I also expected I wouldn't really get into the story --- after all, I don't know much more than general history about the Napoleonic Wars, and I also don't read a lot of dragon books.   However, His Majesty's Dragon completely blew my mind.
What's really cool about these books, and this series, is that the author really knows her history, and also knows how to write compelling, engaging characters.  So, when you're reading, you're getting some actual details about what was going on in the various parts of the world during this time period, in addition to the fantastical details about adding in dragons and an Aerial Corps.  The really interesting thing, I think, is that Naomi Novik makes it all completely believable.   I can imagine the dragons, and the Aerial Corps, quite clearly.  The dragons are all of different breeds and sizes, and have different roles to play, but they all fit into the story in a way that makes complete sense.
One might argue that Temeraire is a bit unrealistic (after all, he does comes off in this first book as the bestest, most special, most awesome dragon ever) --- but as the series continues, his personality really develops, and he is revealed to have flaws, after all.   His relationship with Laurence (an interesting character unto himself) is really what drives the stories, even with the emphasis on the war, and the other challenges the two of them face.   And don't think that Laurence is merely a "handler," and that Temeraire is a sort of pet; this is a true relationship of comrades (of sorts, at least).
The series is up to seven books now, and I'm eagerly anticipating the next one, even though I have no idea when it will be published (*sigh*).   If you're curious about the series, there's a Wikipedia entry, or you can visit the author's site and read all about the books (and Naomi Novik).    Even if you don't think this is your kind of book, if you enjoy stories of friends having adventures, this might be a different kind of story for you that you might enjoy (and definitely check it out if you're a fan of alternate history or dragons).

2 comments:

Bookworm1858 said...

I am so glad to see a review of this series; I had them recommended to me and they seem just up my alley. Plus dragons!

Amanda Makepeace said...

This is a series I've been meaning to pick up, but I never seem to have the time. One day!!

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