Today’s book is one I read years ago and is one of my favorites: His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. It’s a historical fantasy story that takes place during the Napoleonic wars and stars an English Captain, but the primary difference between the real deal and this book is in the book, the battling countries have air forces comprised of dragons.
That sounds cool enough, but there’s more. The dragons can talk and they do so eloquently. This is one exchange between Laurence (the English Captain) and his dragon, Temeraire.
Temeraire furrowed the ground before him with his claws. “He is not any bigger than I am,” he said. “And he is not a Long-wing, so he does not spit poison, and there are no fire-breathing dragons in Britain; I do not see why he is any better than I am.”
“He is not one jot better, not at all,” Laurence said, stroking the tensed foreleg. “Precedence is merely a matter of formality, and you are perfectly within your rights to eat with the others. Pray do not be quarrelsome, however; they have fled the Continent, to be away from Bonaparte.”
“Oh?” Temeraire’s ruff smoothed out gradually against his neck, and he looked at the strange dragon with more interest. “But they are speaking French; if they are French, why are they afraid of Bonaparte?”
“They are royalists, loyal to the Bourbon kings,” Laurence said. “I dare say they left after the Jacobins put the King to death; it was very dreadful in France for a while, I am afraid, and though Bonaparte is at least not chopping people’s heads off anymore, he is scarcely much better in their eyes; I assure you they despise him worse than we do.”
“Well, I am sorry if I was rude,” Temeraire murmured, and straightened up to address Praecursoris. “Veuillez m’excuser, si je vous ai dérangé,” he said, to Laurence’s astonishment.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Eight chapters before this, the story begins when Temeraire was still in his egg on a boat Laurence and his naval crew confiscated. In their world, dragon trainers are chosen from a young age and are prepared when the dragons hatch. Human and animal form a lifelong bond immediately. But Temeraire hatched on the boat, claiming Laurence as his trainer, and while Laurence wasn’t prepared to train a dragon, to refuse would be a great dishonor. So he does at great personal cost.
Of course, in addition to beautiful language and character conflict, the story includes dragon battles. They’re as cool as you can imagine.
Also in my Bookbag: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Help, Hoot
What H titles are in your Bookbag?
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