Published in US as His Majesty's Dragon.
Locus Award for Best First Novel 2007, Hugo Award nominee 2007.
As Napoleon's tenacious infantry rampages across Europe and his armada lies in wait for Nelson's smaller fleet, the war does not rage on land and water alone. Squadrons of aviators swarm the skies – a deadly shield for the cumbersome canon-firing vessels. Raining fire and acid upon their enemies, they engage in a swift, violent combat with flying tooth and claw… for these aviators ride dragons.
Captain Laurence is a satisfied man with a respectable commission aboard the ship Reliant. His career is born from a love for the sea and he takes his duty very seriously.
Months before the battle of Trafalgar, on patrol in the Atlantic, The Reliant takes a small French frigate, storm-damaged and possessing a fierce crew unwilling to surrender as easily as they should. On board Laurence finds a dragon egg – a great prize as England is in sore need.
Having spent months on a slow journey from Asia, the egg hatches. A sinewy new-born emerges from the fragmented shell, ignores his harness-bearer, approaches Laurence and changes his life.
Hatchling dragons must be put in a harness immediately otherwise the dragon-young become hard to control – fit only for the breeding colonies. The person chosen to first harness the beast must be an aviator, for the dragon will accept no other captain. The life of an aviator is not a desirable one; reviled by fashionable society, they live hard, lonely lives bound to duty and they frequently die young. Laurence must now join them; duty demands it, though his heart is broken.
But, more astonishing than the dragonet – named Temeraire by Laurence – are the documents found with him, documents addressed to Napoleon from the greatest, most skilled dragon-breeders in the world – the Chinese.
The dragon Temeraire was meant for the Emperor Napoleon himself and promises to grow into no ordinary creature.
An avid reader of fantasy literature since age six, Naomi Novik (born 1973) is also a history buff with a particular fascination with the Napoleonic era and a fondness for the work of Patrick O'Brian and Jane Austen. She began writing as a guilty pleasure while studying for her Master's degree in Computer Science at Columbia. She lives with her husband in New York City.
Written by Fantasyfan (2012-01-01)
I usually dislike alternative history, but after a recommendation I tried this book out. And I was happy to notice that instead of history lesson of Napoleon's war, we'll get a splendid story of growth and very deep friendship. It's also fascinating how the characters in the book have manners and ways of speaking of the period. Splendid again. I do recommend this book to anyone who can stand bit of history and lot's of dragons.