Dragons and… Napoleon?


I love books about dragons.  I have read and re-read Anne McCaffery’s Pern series through-out my tweens and now into my twenties.  I have read Christopher Paolini simply for Sapphira. If I could wish any mythical creature into existence, I would wish for sentient dragons.  Not those brutes from Harry Potter.  I suppose you could say that I prefer my dragons much like many teens prefer their vampires (if the latest books in YA fantasy are anything to judge by)… with a bit of cute and “I’m supposed to eat you… but I love you too much” attitude.

Which is why when I was browsing my Kindle, hoping for a sighting of those rare and wonderful free e-books within fantasy, I was a teeny bit excited.  I had never heard of Naomi Novik, and when I began reading did not have access to the interwebs in order to google her.  And yes, readers everywhere, google is slowly becoming a mainstream verb.  Anyways, Naomi Novik…

IS SIMPLY AMAZING!!!!

Her story is brilliant in that her characters, even her dragon ones, have character development right from the start.  I loved how both dragon and rider had to choose one another, and their bonding was not one of mystical, “I’ll die with you” qualities that is seen in McCaffery’s human/dragon relationships, but one of everyday social bonding between two very close friends.  Because that is what they are.  Laurence doesn’t restrict Temeraire from learning and becoming his own person, and loves him even when Temeraire’s ideas are contrary to his own.  And Temeraire is the same… except that he weighs a bit more. Their relationship is one of trust, respect, loyalty and sacrifice.  And in a war, loyalty is everything.  Temeraire and Laurence are members of the Royal Aerial Corps, fighting for Britain against Napoleon and his dragons.  As Temeraire matures, we see a shift in his ideas of loyalty that result in the happenings of the latest book out, Tongues of Serpents.

Lots of people have compared Novik’s writing to a mixture of Anne McCaffery and Patrick O’Brian, a mash-up of the two themes presented by these classic authors.  I would have to agree with that.  I enjoyed reading Novik’s books.  They contain enough drama, adventure and intrigue to keep me on the edge of my seat.  I think I finished all the books within 4 days.  No lie.  I became so involved in the story that I simply lost track of time (literally… I ended up missing two stops on the skytrain and had to ride it around a full time without reading!).  All that existed was Novik’s world.

Exerpt from His Majesty’s Dragon: Temeraire Book 1

Still exploring, the dragon came past him; it sat up on it haunches to look at him inquisitively, and Laurence gazed down at it in unconcealed sorrow and dismay.

It blinked at him; he noticed its eyes were a deep blue and slit-pupiled, and then it said, “Why are you frowning?”

Silence fell at once, and it was only with difficulty that Laurence kept from gaping at the creature. Carver, who must have been thinking himself reprieved by now, was standing behind the dragon, mouth open; his eyes met Laurence’s with a desperate look, but he drew up his courage and stepped forward, ready to address the dragon once more.

Laurence stared at the dragon, at the pale, frightened boy, and then took a deep breath and said to the creature, “I beg your pardon, I did not mean to.  My name is Will Laurence; and yours?”

No discipline could have prevented the murmur of shock which went around the deck. The dragonet did not seem to notice, but puzzled at the question for several moments, and finally said, with a dissatisfied air, ” I do not have a name.”

Laurence had read over Pollitt’s books enough to know how he should answer; he asked, formally, “May I give you one?”

It- or rather he, for the voice was definitely masculine- looked him over again, paused to scratch at an apparently flawless spot on his back, then said with unconvincing indifference, ” If you please.”

And now Laurence found himself completely blank.

If you are interested in learning more about Naomi Novik and her world checkout her website by clicking HERE.

This is an interview of Naomi Novik by BookBanter Blog.  I really enjoyed reading this piece and found it full of interesting personal details.  Adam Rogers, senior editor at WIRED magazine also had the chance to interview Novik, and has posted a podcast of the interview.

There is rumours of a Temeraire TV series in discussion with Peter Jackson.  I really, really hope that this is done.

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