His Majesty's Dragon (Book 1)
By: Naomi Novik

Quick-take: Enjoyable despite being more about dragon caring than dragon fighting.

Dan's Review

While capturing a French ship, Lawrence, a British Navy Captain, finds a dragon egg. Then a short while later, he finds himself the dragon's handler, a lifelong commitment of which he cannot walk away. He names the dragon Temeraire, and they are now bonded and quickly bosom friends.

The book follows the two as they travel to dragon training. The two develops a deep friendship for each other. Temeraire and Lawrence learn fighting techniques, he reads to his pet dragon at night, and so on.

I would've preferred a book about dragons fighting, and that was only a minor piece in this book. While a lot of time is spent training to fight, the focus of the book was more of Temeraire's and Lawrence's relationship. It was part coming-of-age for a child, and the dramatic change in Lawrence's life by suddenly becoming a parent (to a child dragon).

This story has been told a hundred times. A new dad who did not really want to be a dad is suddenly a parent and accepts the role as his duty. Fast forward to the end: The new dad would not trade his new role for anything else in the world.

Swap "child" with "dragon", and you have this story. I don't want to belittle it. It was enjoyable and well-executed. Just know what you are buying.

On to the fantasy aspect of it. There is no magic happening. It is simply the early 1800s except with dragons flying about. I realize fantasy requires suspension of disbelief... I mean, I'm willing to accept dragons, but I thought Temeraire was a bit too remarkable. He spoke complete English sentences within a few minutes of being hatched. Temeraire is less than a year old, and he already understands the subtleties of debate, is learning math just for kicks, and so on. He could potentially keep his own against a 40-year-old that studied the classics in college. Temeraire's age 0.5 years.

We learn later that Temeraire is remarkably intelligent among other dragons, but there are scenes that are a touch too absurd.

Anyway, I am willing to suspend that bit of disbelief too and continuing on to book 2. A fair amount of was establishing the groundwork of the story, and I'd like to learn more now that it has been laid.

My score is a 4/5.

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