You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Monday, January 28, 2013

His Majesty's Dragon

Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon is a blend of historical fiction and fantasy. It is the time of Napoleon and dragons are form a strategic part of the armed services of the major countries. In fact they have been bred for centuries for specific advantageous traits.

The story starts with Captain Laurence of the Royal Navy captures a French ship. On the ship is a large dragon's egg, which his advisers say is about to hatch. Knowing that the dragon will imprint on one of the first people it sees, he and his men draw straws to see who will approach it with a harness. Yet when the beast hatches it goes right to Laurence and speaks to him. Laurence has become the dragon's trainer, to his dismay, and he must give up his position as captain to become part of the air corps.

Laurence names his dragon Temeraire, and together they both learn about dragons and the air corps. They see a local expert who determines that Temeraire is an Imperial, a rare Chinese breed. The two of them are assigned to training. Most of the book is the story of their training as Temeraire gets used to flying in formations, Laurence gets used to a less regimented life, and they both get used to each other. Laurence makes some mistakes, such as interfering with another pilot's dragon, which causes some friction.

The story builds to a concluding battle, with a bit of suspense and treachery to make things interesting. The book is an interesting take on dragons and warfare in the Napoleonic era. There's not a whole lot of action, as a lot of it is exposition describing life as a dragon trainer at the dragon compound. But it works as a fantasy about dragons. The creatures themselves have personalities, and there is a good relationship between Laurence and Temeraire. There is also tension between some of the others, and Temeraire shows some awareness of his awkward position: being both owned by Laurence and having a mind of his own, he could foresee-ably have divided loyalties if either Laurence were to turn against the English or if they were ordered to separate. Overall a fun and amusing story. B+

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