three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
21-Mar-Apr-2006
By: 
Naomi Novik
user_rating: 
0

A-HisMajestysDragonIn this fictional rendering of the Napoleonic wars, nations breed dragons for use as aviator military weapons. Of the different breeds, the Chinese dragon is the most coveted. Imagine British Naval Captain Will Laurence’s surprise when his ship captures a giant egg from an enemy French ship—and it hatches a Chinese dragon, meant for Napoleon himself. Laurence and his newly hatched Temeraire (named after an earlier ship that was captured from the French) become fast friends, leave Laurence’s beloved navy for the less popular Dragon Aerial Corps, and start to battle Napoleon and his aviation force in earnest.
Del Rey. 384 pages. $7.50. ISBN: 0345481283

Fantasy Bookspot 4 of 5 Stars
"Each scene is a learning experience for each, or both Temeraire and Laurence, and each scene carries with it a sense of a feeling of discovery. … What Novik’s work does offer is the integration of one of Fantasy’s trademark creatures into a worthwhile novel. … Temeraire … is the most engaging of his species I have read about in fantasy and will no doubt charm readers." Jay

Emerald City 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Getting such an idea right not only requires a fair amount of bravery to even try it, but also a significant degree of writing talent. Having both of these is about to make Naomi Novik very famous. … I don’t expect that Temeraire will set the literary world on fire, but the book is very readable and Novik’s characterization is excellent." Cheryl Morgan

Guardian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Novik’s novel comes blazoned with quotes from Stephen King, Terry Brooks and Anne McCaffrey, comparing Novik to Susanna Clarke and Patrick O’Brian. The quotes are unnecessary. Novik writes dragons without McCaffrey’s tweeness; her air battles between French and British dragons have a stark simplicity that is quite her own." Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Critical Summary

Published as Temeraire in the U.K., His Majesty’s Dragon is the first of a planned trilogy (Throne of Jade and Black Powder War appeared in 2006). Amply praised by SF writers, this original alternate-reality historical SF novel stands fully on its own. Against the convincing backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, Novik limns fantastical battle scenes, creates emotionally astute and appealing characters (dragon included), and provides unique insight into dragons, their abilities, and their breeding combinations. At center stage lies Temeraire’s and Laurence’s strong bond, one critics hope Novik will explore in future novels. His Majesty’s Dragon, notes Fantasy Bookspot, is more than a "worthy choice for those looking for a new series to indulge yourself in for the new year."