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Book #21: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik - Chronicles of a Hereditary Geek [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Book #21: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik [Mar. 23rd, 2009|09:44 am]
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#21: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

The basic premise of the Temeraire series is "What if dragons were used in the Napoleonic Wars?" The first book, His Majesty's Dragon, opens with Captain Laurence of the British navy capturing a damaged French ship and relieving it of its cargo - a dragon egg, which hatches before the ship can make it back to port. When the dragon hatches, and attaches himself to Laurence, he suddenly has to leave the Navy and get retrained as an aviator.

There's nothing I don't like about this book. The narration is less dry and technical than O'Brian's "Master and Commander" books, but retains the feel of it nevertheless. There are a lot of new concepts to introduce - basically everything having to do with the Aerial Corps and its crews of dragonriders - but the topics are covered naturally as the story unfolds, with no obvious "As you know, Bob" type exposition.

And oh, the dragons. I've been a fantasy geek for a while, and dragons are a big part of that for me. Novik's idea of dragons is a more sophisticated descendant of the dragons of Pern; while the influences are obvious, especially in the way dragons bond with their handlers upon hatching, the dragons in her books are people in their own right, and are full characters in the story.

shardavarius described the Temeraire series as "Pern meets Master and Commander", but the result is far more than that. Novik manages to pull out the best parts of both of those influences while leaving the weak points behind, meld it with some unique ideas and a fantastic storytelling voice, and end up with one of my favorite books I've read this year.

The next three books in the series are on their way from Amazon, but in the meanwhile I've started Charles Stross' The Jennifer Morgue, from the Laundry series.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sertrel
2009-03-23 07:21 pm (UTC)
I loved this book too. Naomi Novik really does a good job in showing interservice rivalry as well, and how the dragons force certain un-genteel traits in the Aerial Corps. The second book is also quite good.

What do you think of Charles Stross? I've read both Saturn's Children and Glasshouse, and liked them both quite a bit, but I just picked up Singularity Sky from the library and thus far I haven't been able to get into it in the same way.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2009-03-23 07:34 pm (UTC)
I liked how Laurence's discomfort in the new service drove a lot of the exposition in that regard. It felt very natural.

I've loved everything (i.e. Halting State and The Atrocity Archives) I've read by Stross so far. A lot of people found Halting State hard to get into due to the multi-character second-person viewpoint, but I thought it worked really well. But I particularly liked the concept of The Atrocity Archives (and The Jennifer Morgue) - the basic idea is that computers are capable of performing occult invocations, but that fact is hidden from the general populace, and there's a secret government agency ("the Laundry") to protect the country from whatever's on the other side of reality. The protagonist got drafted into the agency after nearly feeding a large city to some Lovecraftian horror by playing around with fractal-generating programs on his computer.
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[User Picture]From: notaboyscout
2009-03-24 05:55 pm (UTC)
I haven't read this book, but I love all of the Stross I have read. Have you read his Halting State? That's some great near future stuff. I also get a kick out of Stross' blog.

Hello and greetings. I found you by way of your JoCo Mandelbrot icon on a comment Angi Long made on one of singingnettle's posts. There are a bunch of your icons, many of which I notice you created, which I would be interested in absconding with (properly credited, of course).

To wit:
Internet is a Drunk Librarian
Mandelbrot Set (JoCo)
Roll for Initiative
Rock Into Mordor
Celebrity Jeopardy
Ravenclaw - Moron Philosophers
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2009-03-24 06:23 pm (UTC)
Halting State was fantastic, and I really need to read more of his stuff. I've got Saturn's Children on my to-buy-soon list, along with the remainder of the Hugo Best-Novel nominees that I haven't read yet - I'm voting this year, so I figure I ought to educate myself. :D

Re: icons: go for it! Thanks for asking.

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