Wednesday, April 19, 2006

His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire) by Naomi Novik

His Majesty's Dragon (a.k.a. Temeraire in the UK) is the debut novel from author Naomi Novik. It tells the story of a ship's Captain in the service of Great Britain during the Napoleonic era, Will Laurence, and his newly acquired dragon, Temeraire.

The story begins with Laurence's ship attacking -- and capturing -- a French vessel, and discovering a dragon egg aboard. The egg hatches before Laurence's ship can make dock, and the young dragon chooses Will as his companion.

The bonding of dragon and man recalls warm memories of Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels, hidden behind math books when I should have been doing homework. The story that follows also has that familiar Pern feeling, mixed with some Aubrey and Maturin.

There is nothing incredibly new here. This is not a book to push genre or to lay groundwork for some sort of new sf movement. What is present, is a wonderful tale; moving and richly painted. I loved Temeraire, both the dragon and the novel, and I hated for it to end. Luckily, the sequels will be released with incredible alacrity -- all three books of the trilogy are complete and will be released this year.

There was a scene, early in the book, that caused me to laugh aloud for minutes, a scene later that brought tears to my jaded eyes. I have always believed that art succeeds only when it makes one feel emotion of some sort.

Temeraire may not win the Hugo award. It may not be talked of years hence as a classic of genre fiction. But it succeeds on the most fundamental level: it makes you feel. It is art in the truest sense of the word.

I submit that Naomi Novik has woven a tale that will be enjoyed by any and all who undertake it. You will not weather its storm untouched.


Collectors Notes:

I'm not really certain about this one. It very well could become a much-loved and treasured story, in which case first editions could reasonably become very valuable in the future. If there is a spike in value, it will most certainly be in the UK hardcover, Temeraire, and to a much lesser extent, in the US version. The advanced reader's copy has not shown any spikes in value as of yet.

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