Review: Temeraire 01 His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

Book info:
Form: pdf
Genre: alternate history fantasy 
Target audience: older YA and adults

The beginning of 19th century. Imagine Napoleon Buonaparte fighting Admiral Nelson in quite unusual way – both sides use dragons of various kind and size as their air force support. Dragons are creatures which think and talk, can spit acid or fire, acting as bombers or means of transport. They are great weapons but they must be treated with utmost care and attention, even love, plus a lot of fresh meat. 😉

An egg ready to be hatched is transported on a French man-of-war. The ship is taken by the British Navy and soon enough the sailors are having a lot of fun, watching a dragonet to emerge from its shell. However a newly-hatched dragon is a great responsibility – it must be named, tethered and harnessed immediately, right before its first feeding; if not it turns wild and there is more trouble than gain from it – it will hunt people and won’t obey anybody. Dragons, intelligent, sentient beings, can choose their handler at their will. The dragonet from the French frigate chooses captain William Lawrence and he names it Temeraire, after a famous dreadnought.Nothing will be the same again for those two. They are joined forever and they must face many life-changing experiences, learn to trust each other and undergo a training. So their adventure begins!

What I liked:
I loved the dragons, I really loved them or rather the great imagination of Ms Novik which supplied them with colourful hides, intelligence and power of speech. Temeraire is my most favourite dragon in fantasy fiction, I am not joking! He is sweet, loyal, he knows French, Latin and English, he loves mathematics, jewelry and reading! He can’t read on his own but his faithful handler and friend, Lawrence is always happy to oblige!


My other source of joy: some dragons tolerate only women handlers! Yes, just imagine it: a lady straight from the salon of Jane Austen riding a dragon, EVEN being made an officer in the army! It was a dare but it paid off – the notion was great in practice but I do regret the women weren’t given a more pronounced role in that installment. Still  I hope there will be more of them in the next ones and the author deserves kudos for the mere idea! It was as if equal rights for women were imposed on the English society some 200  years earlier, imagine that!

The book is really about the developing relationship between Temeraire, the Dragon won from the French in battle, and Captain Laurence. I admit that, at times the relationship seemed a little weird. Let me give it to you straight – there are the homoerotic undertones clearly present. Is the dragon Laurence’s lover? He is given gifts of jewelry, he had fits of jealousy, and does Laurence really call that 10-ton creature “my dear” time and again ? (pst pst – yes, he does). One time he even makes his beloved pet very excited indeed if you get my drift…it was an accident as Laurence didn’t know what he was doing but still…and you know what? It worked for me! These two had a very unusual dynamics – William does things like reading books to Temeraire, or giving him baths, that the other aviators just don’t do. And in his own, unassuming way, Laurence upsets the status quo. This isn’t, generally, a good idea if you happen to be in a military outfit—less so when it’s the nineteenth century.

What can be said: I understood. I love my pretty, pretty dragons and I know pets can be pretty jealous as I am the owner of a very jealous dog!

What I didn’t like:
I admit the narration was predictable – you could see plot twists coming a mile away – but that doesn’t make the story any less satisfying. Have I mentioned all those pretty dragons? And yes, the book is rather one big adventure than something character-driven but…the dragons!!!
Final verdict:


His Majesty’s Dragon is a fantastic combination of wit and humour with conflict and difficult decisions. It is also one of the best books featuring a dragon as a main character I’ve read so far. Paolini’s immature rendition of a draconian ‘plaything’ doesn’t even come close to this complex tale of love, loyalty and sacrifices. You may find some parts of the story hard going, but if you persist, it’s totally worth it. Personally I am in for another installment!!!Give me more dragons!!!

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8 Responses to Review: Temeraire 01 His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

  1. heidenkind says:

    Yay dragons! Great review. 🙂 I actually have this book on my shelves somewhere…

  2. Go find it and read, totally worht it! I am on the sixth installment now!

  3. I also love dragons and this book sounds fantastic, I'm adding it to my never ending TBR. 🙂

  4. Yeah, never ending TBR piles are my nightmare as well…but this one is worth adding!

  5. awwwwwwwwe I like it. I need to read a good book with dragons…I may have to check this out. ^.^

  6. Blodeuedd says:

    I enjoyed this one 😀 Such a cool concept, wohoo dragons!

  7. This one is truly unique!

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