His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, Book I)
I must have been getting used to the Kindle, because even though we were still on vacation, I loved this one.
Novik does character, plot, and dialogue so well that I was immediately immersed in this fantasy/alternate history. In this alternate universe, the Napoleonic Wars have the added dimension of dragons. All kinds and breeds of dragons and their aviators make up the Aerial Corps, which is entirely different from other branches of service. The aviators are chosen by their dragons and must commit their lives to them; the commitment entails a good deal of sacrifice regarding hearth and home.
The bond between aviator and dragon, however, makes up for other losses in most cases. Thus it is for Will Laurence, Captain of the Reliant. When his ship captures a French ship carrying a dragon egg near hatching, most of the crew (including Laurence) dread the possibility of being chosen. When the young dragon does choose Laurence, he deeply regrets the necessity of giving up his naval career and the possibility of marriage to a young woman he cares for.
Nevertheless, Laurence's sense of duty requires him to give his best, and he and the young dragon begin their partnership when he gives the dragon a name--Temeraire. Rapidly their bond increases to a remarkable depth, and when the possibility that another aviator might take over, Laurence finds himself bereft. Temeraire puts paid to that idea, and the two prepare to join the Aerial Corps, leaving for Scotland and their training.
Temeraire is a wonderful character. Wise and childlike, loving and fierce, he devotes himself to Laurence and to learning. Laurence reads to him because the dragon is unable to hold a book, they converse about many things as Temeraire's curiosity is limitless, and they comfort each other when difficulties arise.
During training, the characters of other dragons and aviators are introduced, and Laurence understands more about the bond between dragon and aviator and why so many are willing to give up careers, property, and polite society to serve in His Majesty's Aerial Corps.
The book is exciting and touching. The characters are easy to care about, both human and dragon. I can't wait to get the next in the series.
Fiction. Fantasy/Alternate History. Kindle. Print version - 2006. 384 pages.