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His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, #1)
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BotM Discussion - FANTASY > His Majesty's Dragon / Chapters 1 - 4 / ***SPOILERS***

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Greg | 998 comments This thread is for discussing the first third (chapters 1-4) of His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik.


Greg | 998 comments Just started this today. Drops right into the action, doesn't it? Really enjoyed the first chapter!... love especially how the oddity of the dragon is presented, in such a matter of fact way. Temeraire is great!


Greg | 998 comments I love Laurence's relationship with the Temeraine! The end of chapter 3 got me a bit misty eyed.


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Ed Erwin | 112 comments It's "Pride and Prejudice and Pterodactyls", and I'm loving it!


Sandy | 1636 comments Just started today - love the spoilers by chapter!


Greg | 998 comments Ed wrote: "It's "Pride and Prejudice and Pterodactyls", and I'm loving it!"

Haha, great way to put it .. all the polite talking, wit, and social distinctions are fun in a Pride & Prejudice way.


Robin P It's also like Jack Aubrey or Horatio Hornblower in the air.


Greg | 998 comments I love the part when Lady Allendale meets Temeraire toward the end of chapter 4!

In terms of substance the book is fairly light, but it's almost a perfect book for me in the lighter fare category. Hugely entertaining, especially Temeraire, and I find myself strongly rooting for Laurence too.

Like your description as well Robin. The one Hornblower book I read (Flying Colours) was enjoyable in much the same way; I loved rooting for him too .. and the understated humor was a treat!


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Mike Curtis | 89 comments What I liked about this book, aside from the dragons, is that it also serves as a very good alternative history on the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, the HMS Temeraire was a ship that figured prominently at the Battle of Trafalgar.

I also like how the book starts off by showing how naval personnel consider becoming a dragon handler as some great and tragic misfortune.


Sandy | 1636 comments I'll say it drops right into the action. Done with Chapter 4 and I love his mother - class through and through.

I wanted to slap Laurence's father too. I guess I was disappointed in his girlfriend but can understand a bit too - to have to live apart from all family friends and society - not a good life.

She will probably marry the wastrel Woolvey - who I loved being shown up as a coward by the way...

I was so worried that Temeraire would have massive problems with the replacement - being abused and such - so glad he didn't.

I really like the progression of the friendship between the dragon and the aviator. Very well done...

But what is up with all the weird attitudes about Loch Laggan covert?


message 11: by Greg (last edited Feb 03, 2017 04:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 998 comments Sandy wrote: "I'll say it drops right into the action. Done with Chapter 4 and I love his mother - class through and through.

I wanted to slap Laurence's father too. I guess I was disappointed in his girlfrien..."


I was pleased the replacement was averted fairly easily too Sandy! And I completely agree about the father - what a jerk!


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Greg | 998 comments Mike wrote: "What I liked about this book, aside from the dragons, is that it also serves as a very good alternative history on the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, the HMS Temeraire was a ship that figured prominentl..."

I agree Mike - it was interesting the reversal of normal expectations, that being a dragon rider is something to be avoided instead of prized.

And interesting tidbit about the HMS Temeraire, though for me, the historical aspects are a bit lightweight so far overall. Perhaps I'll see more of the alternative history as I get further. Only starting chapter 8 at this point. So far, I'm seeing it more as a fun story.


Sandy | 1636 comments Greg wrote: "Mike wrote: "What I liked about this book, aside from the dragons, is that it also serves as a very good alternative history on the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, the HMS Temeraire was a ship that figur..."

Greg, I don't know much about Napolean and that war but it would have been nice to hear a bit more specifics about the history of the war and where the dragons could have fit in. I like that part of stories almost as much and the story itself and when done well - it can make the story seem more authentic.


message 14: by Greg (last edited Feb 03, 2017 09:16PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 998 comments Sandy wrote: "Greg wrote: "Mike wrote: "What I liked about this book, aside from the dragons, is that it also serves as a very good alternative history on the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, the HMS Temeraire was a sh..."

When historical events fit in more and are handled well, it can be a definite plus for me too! It can give books a bit more weight and also be a great way to introduce satire/relevance I think plus authenticity as you say Sandy! And like you, I'm finding the history links a bit lightweight so far.

But I guess I'm enjoying the story so much that in the case of this particular book, I don't seem to mind. :)


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Freya (flamecat) | 1745 comments Mod
It is quite 'light', but I am enjoying that aspect of it. When I'm reading it I'm finding it hard to put down! I really like the fact, as a lot of you have mentioned, that it is not a position everyone is clamouring to be, and I feel the attitudes of his family and ship are interesting. We see Will trying to keep to his strict Navy upbringing and gentlemanly values, but we also see how that is and will get more eroded the longer he is a dragon rider. With that you can see that Temeraire's needs etc. will give him less and less time for everything he used to fill his time with, even when compared to the long absences of the Navy.

I haven't read a huge number of alternative histories before, or generally books which have a heavy footing in historical fact. But one I do like is Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer. It's a bit off topic, being historical romance rather than sci-fi or fantasy, but I really enjoyed how it was set around the Battle of Waterloo and you had a number of Wellington's actual letters included because Heyer had wrapped the plot around the events.


message 16: by Greg (last edited Feb 04, 2017 12:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 998 comments Freya wrote: "It is quite 'light', but I am enjoying that aspect of it. When I'm reading it I'm finding it hard to put down! I really like the fact, as a lot of you have mentioned, that it is not a position ever..."

Great points Freya, and I'm finding it hard to put down too! :)

I think that for me the gentlemanly values and strict Navy upbringing are part of the fun. For one thing, it makes me want to root for him because he's always trying to come from a place of fairness & honor even when he has no idea what's going on. For another, his old-fashioned expectations and way of reacting to everyone adds some great humor. He's such a fish out of water!

I like how you say this stiffness will get eroded. Definitely I suspect!


Sandy | 1636 comments I think he stiffness and manners will also effect those around him. Since he is fair and was well liked as a captain of the navy - his team in the Corp will start to emulate him. The benefits of a positive role model and all.

Freya - I have added that book to my TBR. Thanks!

I noticed this is book 4 in a series - are the rest of the books the same? built around historical events the same way? I have this think about reading book series in order - now I have 3 more on my TBR ;-)


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Greg | 998 comments Sandy wrote: "I think he stiffness and manners will also effect those around him. Since he is fair and was well liked as a captain of the navy - his team in the Corp will start to emulate him. The benefits of a ..."

I hope so! :)


Robin P Sandy wrote: "I think he stiffness and manners will also effect those around him. Since he is fair and was well liked as a captain of the navy - his team in the Corp will start to emulate him. The benefits of a ..."

This is the first book that was written. Maybe there are some stories or other material but Temeraire is born here so you are starting at the beginning. And yes, all the books follow the wars in the sense of containing famous battles an the general arc of Napoleon's advance. I read these overlapping with the Bloody Jack series (YA about a girl who disguises herself as a boy and joins the British navy) which covers the same period and sometimes I got them mixed up.


Sandy | 1636 comments Thanks Robin!


Narilka | 390 comments I just finished up chapters 1-4 last night. I'm loving the book so far. Both Lawrence and Temeraire have absolutely charmed me, both with the formal speech and their interactions. I enjoy reading about a proper gentleman again and the dragon is learning from him. Sandy, I hope you're right and that Laurence's example helps change the Corps. I'm attached enough to Temeraire at this point that I'd be fairly upset if something bad happens to him.

I also appreciate that this is a "lighter" book. Work has been so hectic that this is providing the perfect escape for my tired mind. I think would fail utterly trying to read something complicated right now or at least not complete it very quickly.

I'm not very familiar with the Napoleonic Wars. I need to google them still. Sounds like I'm not missing too much yet if the history part is on the light side.


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Audrey (niceyackerman) | 2698 comments Mod
I am enjoying the growing relationship between dragon and handler, though action-wise it feels a bit slow so far.


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Audrey (niceyackerman) | 2698 comments Mod
Now in Chapter 5 -- really wanted to throttle Will's dad. Temeraire's jealousy was cute.


Veronica  (readingonthefly) | 803 comments I just finished chapter four. I'm enjoying it though I am ready to get down to some actual air battles. I like Temeraire and Laurence though I guess I'm in the minority in thinking that the relationship between the two feels a bit rushed. We hadn't even hit the first 100 pages before Laurence was regarding Temeraire as an "intimate friend", the "dearest in his life". I can see that deep bond and friendship developing after they've been through some serious life and death situations, maybe by the end of the book, but it feels a bit premature at such an early stage.

I also feel like Laurence has made the transition from losing the life he always counted on having a little too easily. I suppose this goes along with this being a lighter book but I'm missing the meatier substance and is why, unlike others, I find it rather easy to put down. I'm enjoying it for what it is but so far anyway I haven't felt any need to stay up way too late at night to keep reading.

Personally, I would think that being an aviator, flying on a DRAGON would be all sorts of cool and would put aviators at the top of the military pyramid - men and women to be looked at with jealousy and awe. Go figure.


Milou | 486 comments I am really enjoying this so far. I agree that it's a light book, which is perfect for me at the moment, cause work is crazy hectic (i leave at 6 in the morning and get home at 8 in the evening). I like the dragon, and the friendship. The constant 'my dear' is a bit annoying though. I was very happy the replacement never happened. The scene with his mam was very beautiful, but i was disappointed with the girlfriend. That is definitely something personal though, seeing as my fiancé and I live 10.000 km apart, and after the wedding one of us will have to leave behind friends and family. I guess we wont leave behind society but our cultures are Very different so its gonna be a difficult transition nonetheless. I can't imagine not doing it though.


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Greg | 998 comments Milou wrote: "I am really enjoying this so far. I agree that it's a light book, which is perfect for me at the moment, cause work is crazy hectic (i leave at 6 in the morning and get home at 8 in the evening). I..."

I agree that the 'My Dear' feels somehow slightly off, and I could do without it. Maybe it's because he starts doing it so early as you say Veronica?

Other than that one endearment though, I do love the friendship between him and the dragon as you Milou. It probably is a bit too simplistic how little he struggles with the transition, but that doesn't bother me in such light, entertaining, often humorous book.

Wishing you and your fiancé the best in your transition Milou!


Sandy | 1636 comments I too agree "My Dear" is overdone. I always want to go back to the start and make sure that Temeraire is not a girl dragon. It is not something I think a guy would say to another guy or every a guy child. Maybe I am just showing my age... lol


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Audrey (niceyackerman) | 2698 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "I too agree "My Dear" is overdone. I always want to go back to the start and make sure that Temeraire is not a girl dragon. It is not something I think a guy would say to another guy or every a guy..."

Yeah -- it's more something you'd say to a female child or wife.


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Ed Erwin | 112 comments I didn't even notice the use of "My Dear"! I'll bet it was realistic for the time. This author has done a great deal of research into that era. When I visited Turkey, it was surprising to me to see straight men walking down the street with arms around each other. There is such a total lack of thought that it could mean anything other than friendship that there is no fear to show affection. You see the same thing in pictures from America 100 years ago.

Anyway, one thing I really like about this book is that it really feels true-to-life in the social details. Some of you may be itching for more action scenes, but I'm the opposite. When the action starts in later chapters, I lost interest a little.

Another interesting thing about the beginning is that Laurence is set-up to be a double outsider. He will join the "air force" which will make him an outsider to society, but he will be an outsider among them because he didn't join an train in the regular way. Plus, he has a dragon that is an outsider itself. Using an outsider character is common in fantasy, and it helps avoid info-dumps. He has to learn about the society he is in, so we get to learn along with him.


message 30: by Greg (last edited Feb 11, 2017 11:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 998 comments Ed wrote: "I didn't even notice the use of "My Dear"! I'll bet it was realistic for the time. This author has done a great deal of research into that era. When I visited Turkey, it was surprising to me to see..."

I think there's some truth to this Ed. If you look at Victorian books like In Memoriam by Alfred Tennyson about the death of his friend, it's unabashedly intimate and could be easily misunderstood nowadays. Well, I've no doubt there were things other than friendship going on between plenty of males of the era, but the assumptions were different, especially in Laurence's class. What people assumed behaviors meant was different. There's the same thing in many of Shakespeare's poems much earlier.

So maybe such endearments would have seemed more natural in that era than they do now? It's very possible. I could've done without so many repeated 'my dears' myself (especially so early in his relationship with Temeraire) but it's a good point.


message 31: by Robin P (last edited Feb 11, 2017 03:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P As far as the "my dear", you find the same thing in other historically researched books, for instance the Aubrey/Maturin series. That was normal language for educated men. It's natural that Temeraire gets attached immediately as that seems to be a trait of dragons, being imprinted on the person who names them. (Though later in the series you meet some dragons who have opinions of their own on this) As far as Laurence's acceptance of his new role, I think it's his strong sense of duty that first drives him, and then his attachment to Temeraire. Who could help falling in love with Temeraire?


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Audrey (niceyackerman) | 2698 comments Mod
That makes sense about the language use.


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Greg | 998 comments Robin wrote: "Who could help falling in love with Temeraire?"

True! :)


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Freya (flamecat) | 1745 comments Mod
The 'my dear' stuff doesn't bother me I think because I've read a lot of books which use the term with whoever to mean whatever the emphasis is intended or not (if that makes sense). I've also read a lot of Pern where they have tighter imprinting links with their dragons, so endearments regardless of gender seem more common.


Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin | 227 comments Okay, so I'm in the middle of Chapter 3 and I am so loving this book! Why did I wait so long to read it.

I keep fearing something will happen to Temeraire!


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Greg | 998 comments Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ wrote: "Okay, so I'm in the middle of Chapter 3 and I am so loving this book! Why did I wait so long to read it.

I keep fearing something will happen to Temeraire!"


Glad you're enjoying it Melissa!


Susie  (susiend104) | 265 comments I'm going to blame February being a short month... I'm only at chapter 6 now, but I'm enjoying this! I agree with those who said it's hard to put down. Oddly enough, my feelings for Laurence are far more "meh" than it seems most of yours were, and it's not just the "my dear" (though that's part of it). The gentleman persona seems a little too contrived. BUT I'm intrigued, and understanding of choosing a writing style for a time period, and sticking to it.

It's strange to feel like I have to suspend disbelief in a book about dragons, but I scratched my head at a newborn coming out and speaking full sentences. And then I shrugged, and moved on, and also fell in love with Temeraire. I picture a more elegant Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. ^_^


Sarah | 641 comments Way behind but finally getting to this.

Between the swimming and wanting to go be pirate, I think Temeraire is the most adorable dragon ever. I'm sure I'll see the more serious side soon, but that's what I feel right now, anyway.

I find the world set up very interesting, but have yet to have any strong feelings of any kind for Laurence.

Ed wrote: "It's "Pride and Prejudice and Pterodactyls", and I'm loving it!"
Love that description!

Susie wrote: "I'm going to blame February being a short month... I'm only at chapter 6 now, but I'm enjoying this! I agree with those who said it's hard to put down. Oddly enough, my feelings for Laurence are fa..."
Now that you mention it, I can see that too.


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