Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Most Complex of Love Stories in His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik | Book Review

Temeraire #1
First Published: 2006
Kindle Version
Adult, Alternate History
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.
Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
Last year, I read Novik's Uprooted and absolutely adored it, so when this came up bargain price on kindle, I didn't even blink before one-clicking it. Finding myself soon after in the mood for a fantasy, I started this story... and got sucked in in mere seconds.
I have always been a fan of stories that take our history in a slightly different, more fantastical direction (such as the Parasol Protectorate series). There is just something so charming about making our own dry history something that everything and anything can happen in.

And His Majesty's Dragon is no exception. In fact, it's one of the best examples for an alternate history done right. In this world, Dragons have always existed, and are both rare and important beings and the most advanced and unique of weapons - because they have brains and thoughts and are intelligent and intellectual creatures.

They are the army's best resource, especially now as America is fighting against Napoleon. I admit I'm pretty rustic on the Napoleonic Wars (wasn't a subject we covered in school, in all honesty), but everything had such an authentic feel to it, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the battles I read of were real - only changed slightly to confine with the reality of dragons.

Which is something I really appreciate - because it makes you feel that if Dragons were real, this is how our history would've went. I feel so strongly about the setting to this story that had the actual plot and characters not been phenomenal I would've still recommended it. However, it was, so there  was no such trouble.
At the core of things, His Majesty's Dragon is a love story... between one man and his dragon.

Captain Will Laurence is a navy officer, and proud of it. While he works his crew hard, everybody respects him for his fair treatment and how he expects from them exactly what he expects from himself. His determination and fairness helps him win over many people he encounters along the way. Honestly, I'm half way in love with the Captain. He's such a great person, above everything, and if I wasn't sure I would lose to Temeraire in a contest for his heart, I would've tried something already.

But who is Temeraire? He is the super intelligent, solid black dragon Captain Laurence finds, and despite being ten times the size of Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, he shall forever be the talking version of Toothless in my head and you can do nothing to change that.
It has to be the fact Temeraire is so adorable and sweet and cute that makes it impossible not to see Toothless in my head. So if you liked Toothless, you will fall head over heels in love with Temeraire! 

And if you liked the relationship between Toothless and Hiccup, you will adore the relationship between Laurence and Temeraire, as both are very similar at their level of devotion, though His Majesty's Dragon takes it even a step farther as Temaraire can talk and converse, making an even deeper bond emerge between the two.

I'm curious to see if Laurence could even get into a committed romantic relationship at this point, as Tem is in a way both his soulmate, his pet and his child, and that leaves very little place for anything else. But I didn't mind it at all.

If I had to find a word to describe their relationship, both in progression and content, I'll probably say "gorgeous".

So if you like complex love stories that are not necessarily "romantic"and set in an intricate world that provides for the occasional heart pounding battle... 

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