His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik – Review


Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies…not aboard aircraft but atop the might backs of fighting dragons. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unxpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarefied world of the Aerial Corps as a 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.

You can read an excerpt here.


In honor of last week’s hotly anticipated release of the sixth book in the Temeraire series, I though it was more than time I finally sat down and read His Majesty’s Dragon, the first book in this much lauded series. I picked it up knowing only that it was hugely popular and that Peter Jackson has been making noises about adapting it for the big screen (though it will now be years until he’s done with The Hobbit). Being a long time Anne McCaffrey fan, I have to admit I approached this book feeling mildly skeptical as to whether there was anything to be done with dragons that I haven’t seen a million times before. To which the answer is a resounding YES.

If you’ve ever been a fan of a historical tale like the Sharpe series, Master and Commander, or Patrick O’Brian – take that, throw in some dragons in an entirely plausible context and you’ve got this rousing tale of the Napoleonic Wars, but with enough departure from history that you honestly have no idea who is going to win. This book enthralled me – the plotting, the characterizations, were wonderful. It’s hard to believe this was the author’s debut.

If you’ve never cared to read a book with a dragon before, don’t let it stop you from picking this one up. Or let me put it this way – I’m reading the second book now and have the third on standby.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

SciFiReviews.net says:

About as marvelous a debut as I’ve seen in fantasy or anywhere else, Temeraire…heralds the arrival of a formidable and original talent…Novik isn’t just another epic-fantasy wannabe trading in the shopworn clichés of Jordan and Brooks and so many other hyped writers who’ve come down the proverbial pike. She’s recontextualized popular fantasy and high adventure tropes to come up with a story not quite like any other on the racks right now, and one that’s impossible to dislike. And with an easy-to-grasp high-concept hook — it’s Patrick O’Brien with dragons! —Temeraire is poised to attract a wide fan following.

Locus says:

The action sequences are terrific, the characters enormously appealing, the style accomplished and ironic, and the promise of future volumes quite inviting.

Entertainment Weekly says:

A completely authentic tale, brimming with all the detail and richness one looks for in military yarns as well as the impossible wonder of gilded fantasy.

Booklist says:

A superbly written, character-driven series…what keeps one turning the pages is the urge to find out what happens next to Captain Laurence and Temeraire, characters who win one’s heart from the beginning. Bravos for a most promising new author! (Starred Review)