Amy's Reviews > His Majesty's Dragon

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
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's review
Nov 25, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2008

A very quick read - I checked it out from the library yesterday and finished it last night. It's good enough to make me want to make a special trip back to the library to check out the next one.

This book is set during the Napoleonic wars and has dragons, two elements which have long been included in my favorite reading. In sixth grade I devoured Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels. And I've been reading Regency era romance novels for years, as well. Combine those two, and add a dragon who loves to read about math and science, and you've got a winner for me.

I liked the developing relationship between Temeraire and Laurence, although Laurence was a little bit overboard with 'My Dear'. Temeraire is mentally mature when he hatches from the egg; he only needs to have contextual information, supplied from conversation and books, to be Laurence's best friend. This relationship is the most important in Laurence's life, and very time consuming; it precludes the possibility of marriage, in his mind at least.

I've heard Laurence described as kind of stuffy - and I found him to be this way as well, particularly in regards to women and their roles. I think this is intentional; without his stuffiness, someone not familiar with the time period would not be able to see how advanced was the Aerial Corps' inclusion of women.

This aspect of the novel actually did not work well for me. At the celebration at the end of the book, it was remarked that the females among the Corps were assumed to be wives, as female dragon riders would be entirely unacceptable. This hits on a larger problem I have with the concept; if dragons and their riders had existed throughout history, I find it highly unlikely that the world would have developed in the same way. Attitudes towards women would have been different. And the balance of power in Europe, and between Europe and Asia, would have been different.

This is the first alternate history book I've read. This book alters history in it's entirety, by assuming that dragons have always existed on earth, but then it only looks at the ramifications of that assumption as applied to one particular time period. This just causes problems for me.

But I loved the characters. I loved the idea of dragons being used somewhat like aerial ships. I eagerly look forward to reading the next 4 published books in the series.
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Michael Get back to the library and get the next four, if you can. They are great!

I will say that part two isn't as wonderful as part one, but it's still a great book. And part four ends on a massive cliffhanger.

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