Saturday, April 08, 2006

I just finished a fantasy novel that's been getting lots of advance buzz, and for once the novel delivered on the promise. His Majesty's Dragon, by Naomi Novik (British title: Temeraire) is part O'Brien, part MacCaffrey, part Forrester, but all done well.

During the Napoleonic Wars, HMS Reliant takes a French prize carrying a secret cargo, a dragon's egg. Since fighting dragons were used by both sides during the war, and since England expects every man to do his duty, an officer on the Reliant has to step forward to partner with the dragon when it hatches, but the dragon hatchling insists on bonding with the Reliant's captain, Will Laurence. This is the end of Laurence's naval career, as he'll have to transfer to the Aerial Corps with his dragon, Temeraire. It's also the end of any hope of a normal life--Aerial Corps officers cannot split their loyalties, and normally don't marry or own land, but devote themselves to their flying partners.

Laurence has a difficult adjustment from the Navy to the Aerial Corps, but the bond between him and Temeraire is so strong that eventually the two of them become heroes of the service, fighting Bonaparte's dragons in aerial battles over England.

Aside from the scientific improbablility of it all, Novik delivers the goods. She makes the whole idea of a dragon corps work, and the characters are fresh and lively. I was thrilled that this is the first book in a series, as I hated to see it end.

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