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12 Jan 2010

Book Review: Temeraire - Naomi Novik

"...he took a liking to me, and we could not risk him refusing the harness from another hand." Laurence, P47

Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful fiancee, society's esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to invade.
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 aviator's cause, thus reliquishing all hope of a normal life.
But when the newly-hatched dragon decides to imprint itself on Laurence, the horrified captain's world falls apart. Gone is his golden future: gone his social standing and soon his beautiful fiancee, as he is consigned to be the constant companion and trainer of the fighting dragon Temeraire...

It's been a while since I've read something so refreshing and heart-warming as this. The first book in the Temeraire series sees a massive change in Captain Will Laurence's life. Unwillingly torn away from everything he holds dear - he enters the life of an aviator. Seemingly governed by their own rules - all Laurence knows about them is they are considered outcasts by everyone from the Navy to the common man. So as Laurence is thrust into the deep-end, confused and unsure of what is to become of him, only his bond with Temeraire will pull him through and experience a life that he never imagined.

Novik pulls off quite a balancing act as she tackles both draconic fantasy and Napoleonic history. I've never had much interest in the battle of Trafalgar but while reading this I found myself browsing Wikipedia often to check references, interested in how much of it was truth (and much of it was!). To my surprise I found myself fascinated with the history and it spurred me on with a renewed enthusiasm. Not to mention the relationship between Laurence and Temeraire is priceless and one to be experienced. The second book in the series - Throne of Jade - is definitely on my to-read list. Brilliant.

Published by Harper Voyager - March 2006


Anonymous said...

This book sounds very interesting,as you know I am heavy into Vampire/faery/and night world books,so reading about dragons sounds like a nice diversion, there is lot of history involved and the combination of fiction and fact is inviting.This book is now on my to read list.