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    Review of HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON by Naomi Novik (see her website)


    Del Rey, March 2006

    The French frigate shouldn't have bothered with a fight, but when English Captain Will Lawrence discovers the treasure--a huge dragon egg already nearing hatching time--he understands the French desperation. But there is a problem--someone will have to bond with the about-to-hatch dragon and that someone will be lost to the British navy forever. Lawrence holds a drawing, but the dragon, when he hatches, has other ideas and selects Lawrence himself. Lawrence is abruptly pulled from the British Navy and into the dragon corps.

    The French, under Napoleon, are planning an invasion of England and only the British Navy and their outnumbered Dragon corps stand between Napoleon and final victory. Lawrence, and his dragon, Temeraire, are thrown into training to prepare for the coming invasion. Lawrence learns that the society of dragons is even more unusual than he had anticipated. A dragon Captain's bond with his dragon is the strongest thing in his (or her) life. A dragon Captain may marry, but his wife will never be first in his life. As a result, polite society scorns the dragon soldiers even though they form the island's thin defense against the despotism of Napoleon.

    Temeraire and Lawrence adjust to one another and to the dragon corps, upsetting some of the conventions of both navy and dragon force. Meanwhile, Temeraire grows into one of the largest and most rare of dragon species--one cultivated in Imperial China itself.

    Author Naomi Novik provides an intriguing twist on alternate history. Her fantasy history closely parallels that in our own universe, yet dragons are an ever-present force, at least since Roman times. With control of the air as important as control of the sea, however, the threat to England combines the historical danger that England faced with Napoleon with that it faced under Hitler's blitz.

    HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON is a deeply character-driven novel. Although there are a couple of fascinating action scenes where dragons battle dragons, the bulk of the story deals with the relationship between Temeraire and Lawrence, and between Lawrence and the other members of the dragon corps. Still, Novik's insights into society and into character itself makes this fascinating reading. This is Novik's first novel and it's a major accomplishment. I look forward to reading more from this talented author. It's a little hard to believe that history, with dragons, would parallel our own universe's history so closely, but who cares--it makes great reading.

    See more reviews of novels by Naomi Novik.

    Four Stars

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