If you love dragons, this series is not to be missed. It’s a cross between the Horatio Hornblower series and the Dragonriders of Pern. What happens when a British naval captain captures a ship that has an unhatched dragon egg on board? Well, he must do his duty and ensure that the hatchling impresses upon a someone who is the very model of a modern major general, as Britain needs every resource in its struggle to defeat Napoleon Bonaparte.
The dragons in this novel are like the best of dragons from literature: intelligent, fierce, and often possessing amazing abilities such as the ability to spit acid. They’re tremendously large, and don’t only bear one rider, but a whole team of airmen who use caribiners to keep from falling off the dragon’s harness and rifles to repel boarding parties, like the sailors of a living airship. As with the dragonriders of Pern, politics among the humans who are bonded with the dragons affect the lives of the dragons. As with Tolkien dragons, dragons in this book live for hundreds or thousands of years and often outlive their riders.
Having the person who impressed (sorry, have to use the Pern term) the dragon in this book be someone who wasn’t raised in His Majesty’s Air Corp gave us a chance to have a delightful fish out of water story. Having the novel take place during the Napoleonic wars gave a chance to have some amazing air battles. And because Temeraire is an unknown dragon, there’s a bit of the “chosen one coming into his power” element as well. All of these are great elements if you want a ripping fantasy novel, and Novik puts them together quite well. I enjoyed it quite a bit and think it’s a good start to what is sure to be an enormously diverting series.