Title: Temeraire (Temeraire #1)
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Alternative History, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperVoyager (16th June 2011)
Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful fiancée, society’s esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to invade.
After a skirmish with a French ship, Laurence finds himself in charge of a rare cargo: a dragon egg bound for the Emperor himself. Dragons are much prized: properly trained, they can mount a fearsome attack from the skies. One of Laurence’s men must take the beast in hand and join the aviators’ cause, thus relinquishing all hope of a normal life.
But when the newly-hatched dragon decides to imprint itself on Laurence, the horrified captain’s world falls apart. Gone is his golden future: gone his social standing, and soon his beautiful fiancee, as he is consigned to be the constant companion and trainer of the fighting dragon Temeraire . . .
Rating: ***** (5 stars)
Temeraire is the first book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. The series is an alternative history for adult readers of the Napoleonic wars, that features dragons. Some have therefore considered it a steampunk series, but I think it is actually an alternative history series as the only change is the inclusion of dragons.
I picked this book in part because of its name. Turner painted a picture of ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ (1839) which I saw in The National Gallery with my Mum (if you want to see the painting you can find it here). I was also intrigued by the idea of dragons taking part in the Napoleonic wars. I am really glad that I picked this book up, as it is a brilliant read.
I really enjoyed reading the relationship between Temeraire and Laurence; it is easy to see that they adore each other. I also liked the way that the events fell out when Temeraire became Laurence’s dragon; how everything changed, and yet somehow stayed the same. I said that the inclusion of dragons were the only change in the story, but that is not quite true. Despite this being a male dominated story, there were several really strong female characters. I liked the way they were written, and the way they interacted with society. Reading this book was almost like reading a Regency Romance, but with male leads and without the romance and with a looming war. It was a really fun read.
Although the story was a fun read, the plot is very serious. I really liked the progression of the story and the way it was paced – it was neither too fast nor too slow. At times it was also very sad. I am not a huge fan of war literature, but I have read my fair share of it (mainly for English Lit classes), and I thought that this was a good fictional take on war. I’m not too sure how accurate Novik was, but nothing glaring stood out. If you like dragons, or alternative histories then this is definitely a book to try.