Since I was a little kid, I have been in love with dragons. Just ask my mother, who read me The Paperbag Princess approximately one thousand times. As I got older, I graduated from picture books and found a subset of dragon books that I was even more obsessed with than what I’d been reading – novels featuring dragon/human companionship and friendship. Anne McCaffrey was my queen throughout my teen years, and as an adult, I’ve struggled to find any book or series that packs the same emotional punch for me. I’m pleased to say that I have – finally – found one!
What I’m Reading Now: The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, starting with His Majesty’s Dragon
What’s It About (Jacket Description): Note: This is the jacket description for the first book in the series, His Majesty’s Dragon, but it serves as a good introduction to the series as a whole.
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.
Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
Do I Like It: I am completely smitten!
Thoughts: For the dragon and dragon/human relationship-obsessed like me, let’s just put it this way: DRAGON BFF! Temeraire is an incredible and incredibly loveable character, and his relationship with Laurence made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside I could hardly stand it.
For those of you more interested in some action or some alternate history, I’ll put it another way: Napoleonic wars. With dragons.
Much like Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, the Temeraire series strikes a great balance between the character-driven focus of the relationship between dragons and their humans (as well as between humans and humans) and the more militaristic and action-filled excitement of war and battle. Laurence and Temeraire’s growing relationship has been the highlight of the two books I’ve read so far, at least for me. But there is also action and adventure, politics and politeness, and a trip halfway around the world.
One thing in particular that makes this series stand out – besides the fact that it absolutely nails a deep and affecting friendship between stiff-necked Laurence and the passionate Temeraire – is the extent to which Temeraire is a character in his own right. He doesn’t just exist to be a pet of Laurence or help Laurence’s character develop. Temeraire is just as much a protagonist as Laurence, and he is very different in many ways. This makes the book better not only because it has two great characters at the heart of it, but because their relationship is so much more meaningful because of the differences between them and the deep affection they have anyways.
Although this isn’t a YA series, I highly recommend it anyways to anyone who likes dragons, excitement, and great characters. The series is nine books long, and I’m only through the first two, so I’m excited to have more to read and to see where things go!