Thursday, May 10, 2012

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon is a little like Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series combined with Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander. Set in an alternate early 19th century Europe, naval Captain Will Lawrence, a true gentleman bound by codes of honour and duty, forms an unlooked-for bond with Temeraire, a talking Chinese dragon. Dragons are crucial in the war between Britain and France and so Lawrence must switch to the Aerial Corps, where things are run much differently than he was used to in the navy.

I listened to the Books on Tape audiobook (10 hours), robustly narrated by Simon Vance. Temeraire's voice was distinctive without being annoying. His Majesty's Dragon is appealing on multiple levels: rich world-building, well-developed characters (both human and animal), and a swashbuckling adventure plot. Highly entertaining. This is the first volume of a series.

Readalikes: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke); Bone (Jeff Smith); The White Dragon (Anne McCaffrey); Master and Commander (Patrick O'Brian).

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