His Majesty's dragon (Paperback, 2006, Del Rey Books) 4 stars

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise …

Review of "His Majesty's dragon" on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

The Temeraire series is one that folks have recommended to me for quite some time. Like so many books I want to read, it languished in my TBR pile for much longer than it should have. His Majesty’s Dragon is the first book in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik and while it hasn’t achieved the critical success of her more recent Spinning Silver it was absolutely a fun and engaging alternative history fantasy.

There were several things that truly stood out about His Majesty’s Dragon. The biggest of these was the setting itself. Napoleonic wars, with dragons. I mean…as alternate history goes, can you imagine anything more awesome? Not only is the setting fun on paper, but Novik does an exemplary job of making the setting quite believable. It feels very much like what the early 1800s would have looked like if dragons were commonly used in warfare. For those who enjoyed the movie How to Train your Dragon, this book is similar, but instead of Vikings you have Regency era English gentlemen (and women!) riding dragons. It’s…I mean it’s just ridiculously fun. As historical fantasy goes, I’m a bit of a sucker for anything with Regency manners. If a sentence like, “Reginald, see to my dragon’s feeding if you please, then I’ll take a light dinner in my rooms and a glass of port to follow,” could conceivably be uttered non-ironically, I’m totally along for the ride. If dialog that sounds like it’s lifted from a Jane Austen novel isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty to love about this novel beyond the setting. The aerial combat is interesting and quite tense at times, having the cinematic feel of both fighter dogfights and naval battles. Novik excels at the battle and action sequences in this book. As the plot progresses there is also an endearing cast of characters that we get to enjoy. Obviously, the main character, Laurence, and his dragon, Temeraire, are the most well fleshed out. But the entire cast grows on you throughout the novel.

With so much good to say about the novel, why only four stars? It’s hard to point to anything in particular that prevented this novel from creeping up into five star range. Yes, I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the motivations of some of the side characters. I think some of the specifics around dragons could have been fleshed out a little earlier in the novel. But these are minor criticisms. In the end, a five star rating for me means I absolutely loved a book and couldn’t put it down. This novel was a ton of fun, I enjoyed it, and I intend to continue the series—but for me it lacks that little something to take it to five stars.

If you haven’t treated yourself to His Majesty’s Dragon yet, you should do so posthaste. It’s a wonderfully fun Regency era romp with dragons serving in the role of skyships. It’s a very enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to making my way to the sequel.

4.25/5 stars.

5 – I loved this, couldn’t put it down, move it to the top of your TBR pile
4 – I really enjoyed this, add it to the TBR pile
3 – It was ok, depending on your preferences it may be worth your time
2 – I didn’t like this book, it has significant flaws and I can’t recommend it
1 – I loathe this book with a most loathsome loathing