Monday, February 3, 2014

Read This: His Majesty's Dragon

     “'Very well, but do hurry,' he said. 'I would like to go up to those mountains. And I could just eat those,' he added, looking at a team of carriage horses standing nearby[. . .].
      'Oh, no, Temeraire, you cannot just eat anything you see on the street,' Laurence said in alarm.” —Naomi Novik, His Majesty's Dragon

What would it be like to have a baby dragon, fresh out of the shell, choose you as his lifelong companion? How would a person feel if this choice meant you had to abandon all your life's ambitions, from career success to marriage and family, and join the Aerial Corps in service to king and country? Captain Will Laurence, a man of duty and propriety, formerly of the HMS Reliant, discovers that while this charge is at times deeply painful, it is also the most wonderful thing that could have ever befallen him.

Set during the Napoleonic War in a Europe where dragons, while not exactly commonplace, have been harnessed, bred for speed and size, and incorporated into the military as the Aerial Corps, Naomi Novik fully imagines the impact and use of dragons in a society, right down to the massive amount of livestock that must be kept on hand for their feeding. Oh yes, dragons eat a great deal—something Laurence learns all too quickly as baby Temeraire strains the provisions aboard the Reliant, at least when he isn't sleeping, as they sail fast for home.

Though some of the book may be dedicated to Temeraire and Laurence training with the Aerial Corps in Scotland, as well as subsequent battles with Napoleon's forces, His Majesty's Dragon is not about dragon battle tactics. It's about the journey Laurence and Temeraire make together into the clandestine ranks of dragon riders, where the usual stiffness of British society falls away, and women find equal footing among their male counterparts, a state of conduct Laurence struggles adjusting to. But more significantly, the story follows the development of Laurence's touching kinship with a creature as extraordinary as Temeraire. He never knew anything could be so dear to him as his own dragon.

The two of them are really lovely together. It's worth a look.

I'm not alone in my appreciation of Novik's Temeraire. Last I heard, Peter Jackson bought the film rights to the series. If my word isn't good enough (and there's no reason it should be), maybe you'll take a hint from Pete.

No comments:

Post a Comment