Review: His Majesty's Dragon

Series: Temeraire: #1

This one is a little different, since although there eight novels currently out in the Temeraire series (with another due this year), I don’t plan on finishing the series at the moment.

This was always something that I had in mind when I set my 100 book goal. It’s a lot of books to read and if I’m just not enjoying a series overly much, it’s worth moving along.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy His Majesty’s Dragon. It was a very interestingly written story, in a style that where I can actually imagine people during the era of the Napoleonic Wars speaking (although if they actually spoke like that, I will admit to having no idea). That being said, that was actually one of the the things that took my out of the story. Both of the main characters (the man and the dragon) spoke so eloquently, it was hard to identity with them.

Another positive was how well Novik wove the dragons into the story. It never felt like they were just tacked on, and she seems to have thought through many of the changes that would come about had dragons been there throughout history. It’s an interesting take on alternate history–not changing particularly much, but rather enhancing what already happened with the changes you want to make. At the very least, it saves you the time and trouble of trying to deal with a true divergence. History is complicated. Making up your entire own history as deep and complicated as the real one? Oof.

Back to the negative though, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the characterizations of the dragons. I understand and like the idea of dragons as or more intelligent than humans, but on the other hand it’s a little strange for them to be so smart just out of the shell–although Novik did comment that was because they learn while therein.

Also, their size. It’s a given in any story involving dragons that the mere idea that they could fly is a little strange. They’re just too big and heavy. But not only can dragons in this universe fly, they can do so while carrying entire crews of men. It’s a really neat idea–that you can basically have an entire navel crew in the air–and on a ‘ship’ as intelligent as a man to boot –but four dragons carrying an estimated 2000 men? That’s almost 40 tons of men per dragon. I’m not buying it. So it goes. It’s still pretty awesome.

And finally, I’m not really a fan of chosen one / only one in the world type stories (one of the issues I had with The Heroes of Olympus as well), which is another reason not to carry on with this series. Throughout the first book is bad enough–ooh, a new and unique species, at least in Europe–the ending implies that the sequels will be even worse. So it goes.

All said and done, I did enjoy the story. It isn’t exactly my sort of thing (thus not reading the sequels), but I’m sure there are many out there who would find it far more enjoyable. It’s a neat world and it wouldn’t hurt to read at least a chapter or two to just to see the writing style. It’s certainly different.