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Previous BotM--DISCUSSIONS > 2009-04 HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON, Naomi Novik - Post here to discuss "His Majesty's Dragon"

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message 1: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (last edited Mar 29, 2009 09:36AM) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Let us know what you thought of our April Fantasy Book of the Month, His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik


message 2: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 338 comments I haven't read it. It's been book of the month for a couple of other groups I belong to and it just doesn't sound like something I want to read. I can't even tell you why I'm uninterested.


message 3: by Jade (new)

Jade (jaderubies) Hi Sandi, sorry that this book didn't catch your interest. I read it a year or two ago, and I loved it. I also didn't expect to be interested in it, but I ended up getting pulled into it (its a page turner, and a quick read) and its sweet and fun. I highly recommend it as a good lite read! I've since read them all (except the newest one thats still in hardcover) and they're delightful.


message 4: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) I read this as part of a SF Book Club three in one (the first three novels of the series). I liked the first one well enough. Bjriton is right; it is a quick read. I didn't the second or third one as much. In fact, I really didn't like the third one.


message 5: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Well, despite the fact that I usually try to avoid books with the word dragon in the title, I do want to make more of an effort to read our Books of the Month again. I just discovered the three-in-one (Temeraire In the Service of the King (3 in 1) Omnibus His Majesty's Dragon / Throne of Jade / Black Powder War ) in our library system (I'm still not *buying* dragon books!) so I'll read it once it comes in to my local branch.


message 6: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 338 comments I understand it's available free online. I really need and e-book reader.


message 7: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 69 comments I really enjoyed this book. Alternative history is not my usual thing but I like reading about the Napoleonic wars, plus I like dragons. I've read all of them up to Empire of Ivory, haven't read Victory of Eagles yet but am looking forward to it.


message 8: by Jade (new)

Jade (jaderubies) I also haven't read the Victory of Eagles yet... I'm waiting for it on paperbackswap.com--I'm almost at the top of the wait list for it! :-)

I liked the dragons here, they aren't the typical dragons--and their whole military/air division which is kinda taboo in a way (I'm trying to keep this spoiler free, so that may be a little vague) aspect I like, its really a lot like reading about pirates (in my mind, at least).
:-)




message 9: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3320 comments Mod
This book is on my list to buy sometime when I see it at a used bookstore. I'll wait till then to read it.


message 10: by Ken (new)

Ken (ogi8745) | 1357 comments I read this when it came out. Thought it was ok. The Manager of my local SF Bookshop raved about it. As someone stated books 2 and 3 were not as good. I really didnt like Throne of Jade.

As for Victory of Eagles yoy are going to to have to wait for the Paperback. This one started life as a hardcover.


message 11: by Staci (new)

Staci | 47 comments I read this back in 2006 along with books 2 & 3 in the omnibus edition and really enjoyed all of them. I thought it was such an intersting take on dragons. I'm also a fan of historical fiction so enjoyed that aspect as well. I recently read Empire of Ivory and was a little disappointed in that one, but still plan on continuing with the series.


message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I really liked the book. I'm generally not much on alternative histories, but the addition of dragons to the Napoleonic Wars was just wonderful. I think the way the British society handles them & their riders is well done & probably would have been correct.

I think what I've appreciated most is that each novel stands alone very well, without long recaps, & finishes on a fairly complete note. Sure, I want to read more, but it's not the writer twisting my arm. I hate to be coerced.


message 13: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3320 comments Mod
Picked this up at Half Price Books today, along with book 3 (_Black Powder War_), but wouldn't you know, they didn't have the middle book this time. I probably won't read this for the discussion, however, since it really try to make it a habit to not start a series till I own all the books and the author is done with the series. That doesn't work too well, howeer, when authors go back to a series years later... grrrr!


message 14: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (readingfairytales) I liked this one a lot. I think it was a little slow moving a lot of the time, and I usually hate that, but it didn't bother me.


message 15: by Jade (new)

Jade (jaderubies) ...try to make it a habit to not start a series till I own all the books and the author is done with the series. ..."

hey Kathi, I'm totally the same way so I know what you're saying. These books are definately a series, but they do tell a complete story in and of themselves, so I didn't mind reading these with some distance apart. While there are some overall story that runs through all the books, I remember the end of each wrapped up the main threads pretty well--

its been a while since I read them... maybe someone else can confirm this.




message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Kathi wrote: "Picked this up at Half Price Books today, along with book 3 (_Black Powder War_), but wouldn't you know, they didn't have the middle book this time. I probably won't read this for the discussion, ..."

I understand what you're saying, but I wouldn't worry about reading them all too much. I've read the first 2 & have the next 2, but haven't found that I HAD to read the next one. While it's obvious it is a continuing story & I'd certainly want to read them in order, I'm not frantic to get to the next book. I'm enjoying them, though.




message 17: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (sisimka) I started this last night and I had to make myself put it aside at 11.30 pm. So far, I really like it. I'm up to Part II and actually looking forward to my plane trip tomorrow, 4 hours of reading time, yay!


message 18: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 69 comments The only reason I'm really looking forward to Victory of Eagles is because Empire of Ivory ended on a bit of cliffy. Otherwise I've found they seem to pretty much wrap the whole story up in each book. But so far I've liked this first one the most.


message 19: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (sisimka) I finished this one very quickly (I had five hours of flying time with which to read). Overall I liked it, but I found the last part - the battle - a little tedious. I'm sure many found it exciting, but I just couldn't get a clear picture in my head of the size of the dragons and how all these people might hang off and walk around them in mid air. Also the logistics of wing and claw placement during 'fly-by's' bothered me. But for all that thinking, I was pleased with the outcome and excited by Temeraire's new status. I will go on to read the next book but I'm not in a hurry to do so. I wanted to rate this book 3.5, but as that wasn't possible I rated it 4.


message 20: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (readingfairytales) I had a hard time picturing it all, too. I feel the same way about going on to the next book. I'm interested, but in no rush.


message 21: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
I'm two chapters into the book and enjoying it tremendously so far. I love the prose style. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it's very appropriate for the historical period - as if it's the diary of an educated person of that age. I didn't expect to like this book much, but so far I am very pleasantly surprised.


message 22: by William (new)

William (williamjm) I read it a couple of years ago. I didn't think it was a great book, but I did enjoy reading it. I did like the premise and thought the world-building and the integration of Pern-style dragons into the Napoleonic Wars was quite well thought-out and, as Stefan said, it did fit in well with the historical period it was set in. It was a quick, entertaining read.

That said, I thought there was definitely room for improvement, particularly in the characterisation. The main character was OK, but I thought the supporting characters were mostly bland and simplistic and the character who turned traitor was too obvious. The plot in general did feel a bit predictable as well.

Overall I'd probably rate it about 7/10. I was intending to read the later books in the series at some point, but have yet to actually buy any of them. Does anyone know how long the series is meant to be when finished?

PS - I think the UK title "Temeraire" is a better title than "His Majesty's Dragon".


message 23: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (readingfairytales) Oh, I think that's a better title, too. I didn't quite get what the title was referring to. Who is his majesty? Or maybe there is a key bit of history or language that I'm missing.


message 24: by William (new)

William (williamjm) Brenda wrote: "Oh, I think that's a better title, too. I didn't quite get what the title was referring to. Who is his majesty? Or maybe there is a key bit of history or language that I'm missing."

I assume His Majesty's Dragon is intended as a pun on His Majesty's Ship, the traditional prefix for the name of British warships (for example, HMS Victory), emphasising that all ships in the Royal Navy are serving the King/Queen of Britain. It does work as a comment on Laurence's naval background and reluctant change of career to being a dragonrider instead, but so does the alternative title of Temeraire - HMS Temeraire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Teme...) was a famous warship during the Napoleonic Wars which is presumably the inspiration for Laurence's choice of name for the dragon.



message 25: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (readingfairytales) Ahh, thank you. That does explain it a bit more.


message 26: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
I just finished reading the novel. I give it a solid three stars. I especially enjoyed the prose style (which seemed very era-appropriate to me). I also appreciated the focus on the social standards of the time - and the way Laurence and the air force in general deviated from them.

You could make a case for calling this an alternate history novel as well as a fantasy novel --- the "alternate" being the addition of an air force to the Napoleonic wars and the effect that would have had on the general strategy and outcome. I seem to remember that that was a popular approach in alternate history (what if Caesar would have had tanks, and so on), but I haven't read much alternate history so couldn't give specific examples.

I think I'll probably give the next books in the series a try, after a short break to read Earth Abides and a Michael Moorcock short story collection. However, I may not read all of them if they don't significantly improve on the first book.


message 27: by William (new)

William (williamjm) I would agree it is alternate history as well as fantasy (actually it's maybe closer to a typical alternative history novel since the only fantasy element in the book is the dragons, it's not really a traditional fantasy novel).

I do remember thinking it ironic that despite the presence of the dragons the world mostly doesn't seem dramatically different in Temeraire to how it was in the real 19th Century. This isn't unreasonable since both sides (and the various other major powers) possess dragons so the dragon air forces cancel each other out to some extent which minimises the effect they can have.




message 28: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I would think the faster communications ability would have changed the world dramatically, but it's probably a better story for not doing it.


message 29: by William (new)

William (williamjm) Jim wrote: "I would think the faster communications ability would have changed the world dramatically, but it's probably a better story for not doing it. "

That's a good point, it should have had some effects even though they might be limited since dragons are too rare to be the basis of a mass-communication system.




message 30: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I wasn't thinking of mass communication, but battle intelligence. I'm not much of a historian, but I do know that a LOT of battles were lost due to faulty intelligence. Not knowing the enemy was coming, what his numbers were, where his reserves were or flanking movements.

You're right on the communications, though. I can't think of any major decisions that would have been changed by rulers knowing about circumstances off hand, but I know there were quite a few.


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