First of all, I can’t believe I have not reviewed His Majesty’s Dragon. I head it on my trip to Amsterdam earlier in the month and I liked it enough to order the second book as soon as I had wifi at the hotel, so that I could listen to the second one on the trip home (long bus rides).
It had very much the feel of a historical book, but it is of course a historical fantasy. Taking place under the Napoleonic war between England and France around 1800. A period that I am quite familiar with, but it is my feeling that you don’t need to be to enjoy the series.
The series works as a window into the time period and into the mindset of the people living at that time. The series feels very well researched both for historical details and on the way people think.
An interesting point is that when I read the first book (I have since read the second and half of the third), I thought the protagonist, Captain Will Laurence, was way too proper – too perfect – such a gentleman. But after reading more of the series I have come to the conclusion that he is very proper for his time but that also makes him a flawed character viewed from today’s point of view. And a lot of his peers sees him as a bit of a stiff neck and an idealist. He is constantly underestimating women even after evidence that they are not indeed the gentle sex. He is quite concerned with proper etiquette, including the the proper use of titles. He corporally punished his subordinates. He is also always polite, dutiful to the point of self-sacrifice and he has a really kind hearth. He is almost always a sympathetic character – even he isn’t quite likeable.
His friendship with the dragon Temeraire is a cornerstone of the series and is so wonderful to watch. Temeraire is constantly questioning the world around him and Laurence is forced to question his own world views, when he has to explain the order of things to his dragon friend – which is really interesting. The book series also have some great action scenes.
I adore Novik’s take on dragons. They are as intelligent as humans (as dumb or as clever), they love to fight, they have as big an emotional rage as humans. However the English tend to treat them as clever horses and use them in war the same way they would use their naval ships. This is a constant tension of the series and it is lovely!
I very much recommend the book and the series. The audiobook is also very well narrated by Simon Vance. If you are looking for something entertaining with some meat on it and you like dragons I think you will like this!
Published: 2006 by Del Rey Books
Read: April 08 to 09, 2014
The author: female, white, USA
The protagonist: Captain Will Laurence, male, straight, adult, aristocat, navy ship captain, dragon rider, able-bodied.