Book Review: His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire Book 1)

Image result for his majesty's dragon

Click HERE to buy it on Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy it as a part of a 3-book collection (again on Amazon).

So, this was something I purchased on a whim because A) it had dragons on the cover and B) it had dragons on the cover.

My shopping habits are not hard to predict.

There’s a reason my entire Amazon feed is made up of Bluetooth headsets and dragon related books. Occasionally there’s some items that work with my Galaxy S7…but only occasionally.

Do with that data what you will, Amazon.

Anyway…

The premise of the book is pretty simple – it is the Napoleonic Wars and there is now air support – in the form of dragons!

I know that sounds ridiculous, and to some extent it is, but the premise was enough for me to grab the first two of the seven book series (I’ll do a review of book two later). Will Laurence, an officer in the British Navy, manages to have a dragon hatch while at sea. Said dragon decides that he is going to keep Will and the pair move off into the British dragon corps. Will and the dragon, Temeraire,  must then pass their training, bond appropriately, and make it so that they will survive the wars despite the odds.

Not a great summary, but that’s pretty much the major points without spoilers.

I’m not normally a fan of historical fiction. I have read a few bits and pieces here and there, but on the whole I prefer created worlds. I know a lot of fictional worlds aren’t really that different from Earth, but with a created world the events are not limited by pre-conceived and air-tight timelines like historical fiction can be.

Fortunately Naomi Novik seems to have things under control and treats this much more as a ‘what-if’ than a hard and fast historical fiction. I don’t know much about the Napoleonic Wars, but what I looked up on Wikipedia (yeah, great research there) matched up with what occurred in the book – except for the dragons. Which is actually pretty neat. Personally, I feel that Novik’s efforts streamlined the integration of ‘cannon’ history quite well with the fictional elements of dragons.

The action scenes are what sell the book so well. Novik does a great job of integrating the action and turmoil of a military conflict – even one that is taking place from on dragon back. There is a lot of chaos and a lot of quick glances at events as Temeraire and Will soar through the skies and struggle against their opponents. The final battle is absolutely superb and a great climax to the novel.

Temeraire and Will are the clear selling points as far as characters. We learn a few things about the dragon corps structure that emphasize the fact that this is a story about Will and Temeraire. There isn’t a lot of space for other characters and those that are there are not nearly as developed as the lead pair. I wasn’t really all that attached to anyone else in the crew, nor to the few little trysts that get thrown into the narrative. I can see some potential in a few of the side characters for later, but on the whole His Majesty’s Dragon is story about Will and Temeraire and that’s what it sticks to.

This is a fun book and a lead into a series that has more depth and, remarkably, is prepared to finish if the author’s blog and website are to be believed.I recommend it as a fun, fast paced book that many fantasy fans will enjoy despite it being a Historical Fantasy novel.

Characters: 3.5/5
Plot: 4.5
Action 5.0
Value: 4.5
Writing: 5.0

Overall: 4.5 / 5

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