The Temeraire books are a fun, well-written series. I'm finding myself grabbing up the next book as soon as I finish the previous, (or in this case ha...moreThe Temeraire books are a fun, well-written series. I'm finding myself grabbing up the next book as soon as I finish the previous, (or in this case having the next volume sent to my Kindle), which I haven't done for a book series in quite some time.
The concept is novel in overall approach, if not in the parts: The series is set in an alternative history at the time of the Napoleonic wars, where sentient dragons exist and have been recruited as part of the war effort. The author is obviously a Patrick O'Brian fan: not only is her setting the same, but the overall feel of her storytelling and the real feel of her naval ships are very much like O'Brian's incredible Aubrey-Maturin books.
The dragons themselves are interesting creatures: Sapient and able to articulate full sentences at hatching, they bond with a human at hatching. Novik has not yet spent any time focusing on what kind of impact that a sentient and very powerful species co-existing with humanity for thousands of years might have on humna society/history, which is why I can't get these books a full five stars (yet).
Four stars for characters and for kept-me-reading plotting and period immersion.(less)
I was something of a Mercedes Lackey fan when her earliest books came out -- not a fanatical fan by any means, but I read and sought out the subsequen...moreI was something of a Mercedes Lackey fan when her earliest books came out -- not a fanatical fan by any means, but I read and sought out the subsequent Valdemar books as they came out. Somewhere along the way I moved on to other things, and the reviews on her later offerings didn't motivate me to return.
I picked up Joust recently, in part because I was looking for a book of a certain length to read at a 10-12 pages a night from mid-August through September. This turned out to be an ideal book for my purposes -- it was a pleasant enough read to keep me on track, but not riveting enough to tempt me to read more than my 10 pages.
There's actually a really good coming-of-age fantasy book somewhere in here just waiting for an aggressive editor to break it out. Lackey has done a great job creating a fantasy world set in a world much like ancient Egypt (if a little too westernized for a truly different fantasy novel).
Vetch is a serf boy rescued from oppressive servitude by one of the Great King's Jousters (dragon-riders who patrol the kingdom's borders). The novel follows Vetch as he settles into his new position as dragon-boy, learns the ropes, excels, and fixes on the idea of hatching a dragon of his own.
Not much really happens beyond that in this 384 page novel. We're treated to long passages on Vetch's duties as a dragon boy, the care and training of dragons, the duties of the Jousters, Vetch's day to day resentments, attachments, worries, and lessons learned. That all this carries the story through 384 pages is a testament to how well Lackey has developed this world and the people and dragons who inhabit it.
Unfortunately, with only three characters who have major speaking roles, the story itself wears thin. The plot's bogginess isn't helped by the author's tendency to repeat herself numerous times, or when she allows Vetch to veer off into multi-page worries that turn out to have no bearing on how the story actually turns out. A paring down of the book by about 1/5 might have helped get things moving along without sacrificing anything important.
Still, an engaging story, and the jousting dragons are interesting creatures with a believable biology. I may pick up the sequel. (less)