This book has been sitting on my shelf forever, to the point I have no idea where it came from or when. But, thanks to the Pandemic, my TBR shelves are getting a little low – meaning, perfect time to read an unfamiliar author!
Facebook, in all it’s creepy glory, randomly showed me an article a few days after I started this book, about Naomi Novik and her newest series she is working on …and the lovely racism she included. Not even part of a point ON racism, just your straight up casual racism. She issued an apology and promised with the next book to do better, but now the idea was in my mind. And unfortunately, I have 0 tolerance for that kind of bullsh*t, and it immediately soured my view. Which may not be fair on my part, but sadly, it now lives rent free in my brain.
As for THIS book, it is basically European History …but with dragons. In the middle of uprisings and civil wars, some countries had secret weapons …entire fleets of them. Dragons are common place and certain countries even have their own specialty breeds. But, of course, dragons can’t be your only defense – even Daenerys had an army. And being basically world history, there was a Naval unit on top of ground and the fantastical Aerial. This is where the protagonist comes in. William Laurence, Captain of the Reliant, caught and boarded the French ship Amitie. On that ship, which the small crew fought tooth and nail for, was a dragon egg. Laurence takes the egg back to his ship, with the intention of bringing it back to his superiors. A dragon egg, unknown kind, transported quietly, without raising suspicion. Laurence knew an opportunity when he saw one.
There was only one catch. Their resident Dragon expert (AKA the one who had read the most books on the subject) predicted the egg would hatch in no more than a week …while they were still 3 weeks out from land, and proper dragon handlers.
As far as everyone was aware, all dragons need to be harnessed, an unharnessed dragon is only good for breeding, and sometimes not even that. Feral dragons are too dangerous. Not wanting to “waste” such an extraordinary dragon, Laurence set up the crew for the dragon to choose it’s new “owner”. Dragons are born hyper intelligent and curious, and as soon as the dragon hatched he took it upon himself to explore every corner of the ship. If one of the Naval officers were to be chosen by the dragon, he would have to leave everything behind and join the Aerial force. Living on their base, that left no room for much of life.
As you have probably imagined, the dragon waltzed past every person on that ship and went straight for Laurence. That small French ship changed his life completely, but possibly for the better.
Now, this was my view BEFORE reading the article, and afterwards it didn’t change. Despite all the raving reviews printed on the book, I found it VERY slow and boring, and Laurence felt very cardboard. The best part of the book was the dragon Temeraire. He is curious and child-like (getting tangled in a hammock, pointing out rocks in excitement), but also incredibly intelligent as many dragons are.
That’s not to say the book was HORRIBLE. It really wasn’t, it was decently written, it just didn’t blow me away. It is still a wonderful fantasy book with dragons, secrets, and war. I will probably not be continuing the series once this one is done, but that’s not to say someone else won’t enjoy it!