This review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books
What a great idea for a book! The early 1800s is one of my favorite periods of history, and I can hardly believe no one thought of this idea before. It takes all the best parts of Patrick O'Brian and Anne McCaffrey and mixes them together in one great action packed dragon soup. How could you go wrong with that!
The language is the first thing I noticed and loved. It is seamless and easy to understand, but is undeniably old fashioned and perfect for the time period Ms. Novik chose. The gentlemanly airs everyone puts on, and the insults to honor if you but look at someone askance, had me grinning and begging for more. Indeed, a few times Captain Will Laurence was insulted or demanded an apology, and I wasn't even quite sure what had gone wrong. No one is allowed to step out of line on Laurence's watch, no sir.
Temeraire is thoroughly charming, smart and powerful, yet with an innocent naiveté that completely won me over. It made me remember my first foray into the world of Anne McCaffrey, and daydreaming of Impressing a gold dragon. The same emotions overcame me here. You know what I want? I want Sims 3 pets to have a dragon expansion pack. Screw unicorns, give me a dragon. I would play the HELL out of that!
Unfortunately, having a dragon in this universe means you are conscripted into the Aerial Corps without any choice. All dragons are the property of the Crown. It seems like such a waste to use something so majestic as a dragon as a bomber plane. Of course, they basically end up doing exactly that in the Anne McCafrey universe as well...but something about firing a gun at a dragon seems so barbaric. I hope Temeraire doesn't remain in the fighting corps long, I really want him to be happy and retire with Laurence some place warm and sandy. And this is after only one installment of the Temeraire series! I can't wait to read more.
This book isn't perfect, even if I like to gush about it. Not too much actually happened, and the love interest falls flat. However, this being the first in a series, the set up for more happening in this world is ripe. If you like anything about dragons or the Napoleonic wars, this book will be a treat for you.