Temeraire by Naomi Novik
Review by Floresiensis
Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old; finding a warmer berth in Nelson’s navy than any he enjoyed as the youngest, least important son of Lord Allendale. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful fiancée, society’s esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to overrun her shores.
After a skirmish with a French ship, Laurence finds himself in charge of a rare cargo: a dragon egg bound for the Emperor himself. Dragons are much prized: properly trained, they can mount a fearsome attack from the skies. One of Laurence’s men must take the beast in hand and join the aviators’ cause, thus relinquishing all hope of a normal life.
But when the newly-hatched dragon ignores the young midshipman Laurence chose as its keeper and decides to imprint itself on the horrified captain instead, Laurence’s world falls apart. Gone is his golden future: gone his social standing, and soon his beautiful fiancée, as he is consigned to be the constant companion and trainer of the fighting dragon Temeraire…
Just as the body is capable of telling you what food it needs, so is the mind capable of telling you what it needs for nourishment. And mine told me it needed something nautical, I wanted to smell the salt on the air and hear tales of derring-do. And why not throw in some dragons too? And so my research brought me to Naomi Novak’s Temeraire series and there can be no denying that it is a ripping yarn, a fun and easy read full of good characters and heart-warming friendships. Novik handles her alternate history with a steady hand, making it plausible (if you suspend belief a little of course) and her writing cleverly and purposefully mirrors the style found in the 19th century, which is when the book is set, during the Napoleonic Wars.
If you love dragons then you will find Temeraire charming and absorbing reading. The relationship between Captain Laurence and the titular dragon is affectionate and the child-like innocene of Tremaire makes him the character readers will love most. A quick and light read that should appeal to those who enjoyed the film How To Your Train Your Dragon and liked Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell but wished for something slightly less dense. Grand escapism and I’ll definitely be reading book two, Throne of Jade.
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