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Temeraire

Temeraire - otherwise known as His Majesty's Dragon - by Naomi Novik, is one of those books I've been meaning to read for several years. I know I've put on my lists for three, if not four, challenges and each time I've finished the challenge with Temeraire unread. Which is a shame really, although in my defense I've always known I would get to it one day and that when I did I would probably love it. So I wasn't ignoring it in the way that you do sometimes when you've bought a book and totally gone off the idea of reading it. Anyway, enough waffle, this time - I refer to the fantasy challenge I'm currently doing - I was absolutely determined to read it. And I have!




It's the time of the Napoleonic wars and Captain William Laurence is in command of the British vessel, HMS Reliant. A French frigate is sighted off Madeira and battle commences. The Reliant is successful and takes the French ship, but something is not right. The crew are clearly under-fed and weary and in the hold of the vessel Laurence finds the answer. They are carrying a precious dragon egg and it is close to hatching.

Making swift calculations Laurence realises that they have no chance of reaching shore before the egg hatches. Someone aboard will have to harness the young dragon - thus committing himself to a lifetime of being an aviator. It will mean the end of life as that person knows it because from there on he will have to devote himself to his dragon completely. Lots are drawn and a young officer chosen. He is reluctant but willing, but in the event, when the egg hatches, it is Laurence himself that the dragon bonds with. Laurence's life as a naval officer is over.

Or is it? On reaching shore, the head of the aviators sends someone 'more appropriate' to relieve Laurence of the dragon. Laurence, already very attached, is upset but all is well when the dragon, now named 'Temeraire', refuses the change of partner.

Back in England and after explaining the situation to his horrified parents and fiance, Laurence begins his training in Scotland. He is not welcome in the dragon covert. A 'clodpole' navy man amongst young men trained from childhood to their calling - he is a misfit. Only the other misfits want to know him and his life would be a lonely one if it weren't for Temeraire: the two are now inseparable.

Laurence's task now is prove himself. He has to prove worthy of the very special dragon that Temeraire turns out to be... but he also has to prove to the doubters that he can lead in battle and help win the war.

Well, I was told I would probably love this and of course I did. It was a no brainer really - dragons in the Regency period, what's not to like? Naomi Novik has written a delightful book which focusses, first and foremost, on the relationship between Captain Laurence and Temeraire. I was slightly afraid that the focus might be on battles and tactics and there was some of that, but not enough to put me off.

The relationships Laurence forges at the covert are central to the book as well. There are surprises and tensions and a very steep learning curve for both Laurence and his dragon, because Temeraire is also very new at all of this. Laurence makes mistakes, tries to right wrongs and it's all great fun to read about. The historical detail is not at all dry and dusty but is incorparated nicely into the plot, although this being an alternate universe type of story, there are differences of course.

I'm sure anyone reading this will sense that I enjoyed this book immensely. This of course is only the first book in a series which is now six volumes long and I'm so pleased about that! Hopefully I can pick up book two, The Throne of Jade, fairly soon because I really can't wait.

Comments

I'm glad you reviewed this! It's been in my TBR mountain for ages -- verito295 rec'd it to me a while back (she's writing a fab Primeval AU with dragons in!) Sounds like I need to promote it up the pile!

Edited at 2010-04-22 04:23 pm (UTC)
I thought this one was just a jolly good yarn. Not deep or anything just a real pageturner. How nice to have something similar in your *fandom*!
Love love LOVE this series! :) I've only read the first 3 books, but 4 and 5 are already on my shelf -- can't wait to continue!
I think I'm going to love them to bits too. Can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the books.
Oh, lucky you to have the sequels still to read!

Yes, it is quite a nice feeling to have all that enjoyment ahead of me.
I still have Vol 5 to read - thoroughly enjoyed the series, considering that I don't generally go for fantasy. But as you say, it has enough Regency in it to make it for me. I think Vol.
2 is my favourite so far, do look out for it!
Naomi Novik is also on Lj - here http://naominovik.livejournal.com/profile so you can friend for updates!
Yes, I know you're not normally into fantasy, it was one of the reasons I knew I would like the books - because you like them despite not being a fantsay fan. I *was* going to wait and get book 2 and 3 (I own book 4 having picked it up in a charity shop) from the library but just this minute caved in and bought them from Amazon. I've a b/day coming up so thought they would be a nice b/day present to myself. LOL. Thanks for the link!
I've read them all...but I still think I like her fanfic better.
Yes, I think I vaguely knew she was a fanfic writer. Which fandon does she write in?
lots. find her here: http://www.intimations.org/fanfic/.

Her merlin is pretty good, as is her HP and her supernatural.
Excellent, thanks, I will investigate as I rather enjoy Merlin and HP fic.
I have also enjoyed this series immensely. I'm really looking forward to book 6, which I think comes out this year.
I'm looking forward to reading the whole series and it's so nice to have them ahead of me to enjoy.