Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

The Temeraire Series (Books 1-3)

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By Naomi NovikHis Majesty's Dragon
Go get them, now! @Amazon.com
Read: September 2006
Rating: Faboo!!

Every so often, the grocery store rewards my endless browsing with a shiny pearl. This is some of the coolest stuff you could ever present to me: Historical novel. With dragons. !!!!! of JOY! Some of the only ”traveling” books I have ever liked!
And you know it’s good, cuz Peter Jackson–yes, THE Peter Jackson–has optioned the movie rights as some really nice things to say about the books.

Has the gushing got you interested yet?

William Laurence is a captain in the British navy, circa the Napoleonic wars. He takes his duty toward his country seriously, and his ship captures a French frigate with some very special cargo aboard… a dragon egg. It hatches before they can get to land, and Laurence is forced out of the mostly respectable Navy into the disreputable Aerial Corps, where men and dragons work together to defend Britain. But his dragon, the incredibly clever Temeraire, is not native to Europe–he is a gift from the Chinese Emperor–for Bonaparte! A rare breed known for its intelligence, speed, and power.

In His Majesty’s Dragon, Laurence and Temeraire begin their training together. Temeraire is, as another reviewer put it,Throne of Jade like a precocious child. A little too quick for his own good. He is always asking questions, and trying to draw conclusions. Poor Laurence is often caught playing referee for Britain’s traditions against Temeraire pointing out obvious holes in the logic. They see their first battle within a year (dragons grow very quickly!), and it doesn’t take very long for the whole world to find out what happened, and to become very angry indeed…

The Throne of Jade sends an embassy to England, demanding Temeraire’s return. The Chinese do not use their dragons for war, and they consider the British harness and battles to be barbaric. Laurence and Temeraire are loathe to part, however, and so they go together, sailing halfway around the world. Temeraire is quite taken with China–dragons walk among people freely and lead their own lives with jobs and funding. He promptly decides that they must bring these ideas back to Britain–and Laurence’s dedication to his king and country quails.

The Chinese know that it is nearly impossible to separate a dragon and its chosen captain. They cannot command it… and so they try to force it… More action ensues, and Temeraire makes a powerful enemy… Lien, the White Dragon.Black Poweder War

Black Powder War picks up almost immediately after ToJ. Laurence recieves a letter commanding them back to Europe to escort a set of newly acquired dragon eggs from Persia to Britain. Though the orders seem vaguely questionable, they set out overland from China.

The journey is long and even more fraught with danger than their ship’s progress to China. They encounter feral dragons, and are made captive by the Persians, who deny that the contract for the eggs was ever finalized. Even after their escape, they are once again embroiled in Napoleon’s conquests and forced to help the Prussians defend their lands, while the eggs come closer and closer to hatching…

It’s rather like a combination of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern with reality. The world is realistic, and I wish I knew more about the Napoleonic wars to know how the battles have been altered to include dragons fighting on both sides. Unlike Pern, people and dragons do not bond at first sight. They have to grow on one another–Laurence is at first a bit resentful of the little bottomless pit he’s forced to look after. Their progression to genuine affection and desire to protect each other is natural and comforting.

I’m not feeling very coherent at the moment, but I know that I loved them. The next book is in progress, and I’m psyched because it will involve the land of my birth–South Africa, and specifically the Cape of Good Hope!

Keep an eye on http://www.temeraire.org/ for more info about the next book, the series to date (there are photo galleries of the locations and some short stories), and that whole Peter Jackson thing.

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Written by Shen

September 28, 2006 at 12:09 pm

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  1. […] The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (Review) […]


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