A Historical Fantasy . . . Dragons Anyone?

His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

Fantasy is one of my favorite genres. It allows authors to show their creative and limitless imagination through their books. So naturally I picked it up, thought it looked good and read it. Honestly, it didn't disappoint. I thought this book was pretty good. It had likeable characters, interesting relationships, and a nice story to follow. So where to begin . . . ?

Let's take a look at our characters.


The book centers around William Laurence, a navy Captain or used to be until he became an aviator, and his dragon Temeraire.


Laurence is probably not the most interesting character in this book. He was a navy Captain who his crew looked up to. He's polite, thinks things through, honorable, protective of those he cares about, a strong leader, and that's about it. It's not that he's a bad person, he's good and I like this character, but the problem is that there’s no depth to him. Throughout the entire book the readers follow Laurence around and most of the time it’s just him discovering new things about being an aviator, interacting with his dragon and that’s pretty much it.


Laurence is just bland, the only complexity with this character is his relationship concerning his loved ones. His mother cares for him even though he is looked down upon by society because he’s an aviator (I still don’t know why the aviators are frowned upon but I’ll get to that in a bit.) and his father wants nothing to do with him because Laurance’s presence will cause unwanted attention and he has never approved of his son’s choice in his careers. Jeez, talk about disowning your own children. He also says goodbye to his love interest from his past, Edith, because she feels hurt and cheated. Why? Because she waited for him while he was at sea and yet he makes a decision on his own that prevents them from being together because the life of an aviator is not a life that will bring a happy marriage. I found his response, or lack thereof, to be pretty much . . . . . . . . . . . . nothing. Edith says goodbye, walks away, and he just lets her go. What? No last words? No regrets? No ‘Have a nice life?’ or ‘I wish for your happiness?’ type of goodbye? No? I guess not. There are a bunch of thoughts that go into his head but that’s about it. Moving on to the next character.


Temeraire is a black dragon with great intelligence who is apparently from a rare breed of dragons called the Chinese Imperials. So naturally everyone makes a big fuss over him because evidently a Chinese Imperial has never been seen outside of China. So what’s likable about Temeraire? Well, he’s intelligent, curious, determined, protective, possessive, obedient (to Laurence anyway, actually he’s both protective and possessive over Laurence too), and cares about what other dragons think of him. Like Laurence, there’s not a lot of depth to Temeraire but that doesn’t make them ’non-likable’ or anything. I really like it when Temeraire grows and asks Laurence questions about his own heritage and the world that he lives in. It really brings his curiosity out and I found myself very fascinated with this character. I really like the bond between Temeraire and Laurence because at first Laurence seems that looking after Temeraire is a chore and a burden but as he gets to know Temeraire their bond grows and it turns out to be a great friendship that develops throughout the course of the book.


We also meet other characters who are likable as well. You got John Granby who becomes Laurence’s friend and Temeraire’s first lieutenant, the training master Celeritas who is a dragon, Laurence’s lover Jane Roland and her dragon Exidium, Matthew Berkley and his dragon Maximus, Catherine Harcourt and her dragon Lily, and Jean-Paul Choiseul.


Interestingly enough, there’s not a whole lot that happens in this book, the book gives us the development of the relationship between are two main characters and there are a couple of fights here and there but there’s not a whole lot going on. This book has waaaaaaaaaaay too many filler (reason why I subtracted a star) and not enough development or growth on the characters. There is a lot of parts with Laurence and Temeraire but there isn’t enough on the other characters like Granby, Berkley, or Maximus. Now that’s a shame because I really like those guys. They seemed pretty interesting but maybe they will be mentioned more in the next book. I sincerely hope so.


Another thing that I was always puzzled was that the aviators are frown upon in society and are a disgrace to their families. But why? Based on the narration following Laurence it doesn't seem like that bad of a life. Granted, it looks like a lot of hard work but that doesn't make it a bad life. I would think that taking care of dragon would be cool not shameful. But this is coming from the perspective of someone who was born and raised in the 1990's and 2000's and not from the early 1800's. So yeah . . . moving on.


Now I know that some people find this book to be too long because nothing happens and I will admit that’s true but I found the book very fascinating when it showed the strong bond that Temeraire and Laurence had and it seems very good. It was also very interesting on how Temeraire seems to have a rebellious attitude when considering his purpose for the British but is completely loyal to Laurence. So why did Temeraire choose Laurence? Is it because he is intelligent and seemed to like Laurence’s character better or is it another factor? The only problem that I see is that there are no arguments or conflicts that take place in their relationship and it is kind of bland even though it’s good.


Hopefully the next book will be more interesting.


Well, either way I thought that this was a good book despite its flaws. Makes me look forward to the next book.