Michele and I have been reading several of the Dresden Files, but Michele told me to slow down and let her get ahead in the series.
At the office, my co-worker Cyril, brought in a few extra books for anyone to read. One of them was Temeraire (known in the US as His Majesty's Dragon, Cyril had the UK version, obv) which I had actually seen in stores before. I picked it up and took it home.
This book introduces the central concept of the Temeraire Series, intelligent dragons coexisting with humans in the Napoleonic Era. I am a huge fan of novels of the Napoleonic Era also know as the Age of Sail. I've read all eleven Horatio Hornblower novels, a few of the Patrick O'Brien/Jack Aubrey novels and even a few of the Dewey Lambdin/Alan Lewrie books.
Starting off as a naval story, the plot quickly takes us into the fantasy of the Aerial Corps, the men, women, and dragons that form the military force in the air. Ms. Novik does a good job of slowly rolling out ideas and concepts in this area keeping the reader happy but without revealing answers to every question.
The writing is easy to read with and you can speed through without some of the usual jargonistic sentences that often mar the typical naval novel. There are some mental leaps like believing that a crew will man a dragon like a ship and crawl all over in flight with the use of carabiners to stay attached in flight. There are even boarding attempts from one dragon to another.
The first novel doesn't dwell much on the issues surrounding dragons and mainly focuses on the relationship between the rider and dragon and the viability of the world in which they exist.
After finishing the book, I wanted more. On Saturday morning I went to the library and picked up the next book. By about 11PM that night I had finished it. Yes, I read fast, but the book was fast and kept the plot rolling along.
This book continues the adventures of Temeraire the dragon and Laurence the rider. While also packed with action, the book dives into the issues of the rights of dragons and their place in society. The European take on dragons is one of focus on them as military weapons with little regard for their desires. Contrasted with the Asian view of dragons as not only citizens, but as valued members of society with many roles from commerce to politics to the military. The author also reminds the reader that at the time, the enslavement of humans was still a matter of real debate and legal in some of Europe at the time.
Ms. Novik doesn't take the easy way out and incorporate some quick fix to the problem. She sets the issue up as a continuing plotline in the series. There is a third book in the series with a fourth on the way. It will be interesting to see how these issues are dealt with in addition to the action scenes.
I recommend the series to anyone that likes historical fiction or fantasy.
Posted by michael at June 03, 2007 08:18 PM