The book was written in three parts, each part reading like a short story with its own beginning and climax.
I liked the concept of the flyers and it was entertaining, though some of the characters were a bit flat.
My main problem was that the middle of the book seemed to be missing.
Part One: An introduction to Maris - becoming a flyer.
Part Two: An introduction to Val - he becomes a flyer.
Part Three: Maris is old and retires.
Wait a minute... shouldn't there be some story about Maris actually BEING a flyer? There was foreshadowing of other cultures as well as introductions to some interesting characters and situations that were completely dropped.
I wanted to know about the culture in the north where the flyers were kings, or the culture where they worshipped a winged god. I wanted to see the aftermath of Maris bucking the system to help Val get his wings. I wanted to know what happened to her brother.
The lack of these things left me sorely disappointed. I was given only Maris' regrets about all the places she had been and the people she had met (some of whom were mentioned ONLY in narration as Maris is lamenting the loss of her wings). I was hungry for so much more than I was given, and this is why I didn't give this book a better rating.
The Napoleonic wars - with dragons. Naomi Novik offers a unique view of the dragon rider - a core of the armed forces, with not a single rider, but a crew aboard a war harness complete with rifles bombs and swords aboard a winged battleship in areal battles, with warriors leaping across to "board" another dragon's back to fight to capture the Captain - the actual bonded dragon rider. What a fascinating portrayal. Novik's description of the various breeds of dragons in the world and weapons other than breathing fire (a rare gift), makes it also vary interesting. Her dialog captures the speech of British military men of the era, giving it a wonderful flavor. In addition, the audio reading of this book was excellent, down to the perfect British accents. The appendices at the end describing the various dragon breeds (the writings of the expert on the subject) were delightful and very well thought out. I have absolutely no complaints about this book and am eager to download the next volume.
Campbell keeps to the most realistic depiction of speed vs. relative distance in space. Unfortunately, that realism by its nature slows down the action as the characters must wait hours for ships to get close enough to engage. Campbell's portrayal of the technology is fascinating and well thought out, more so than the character development. The characters were flat, and Geary was such a recluse that he failed to engage in any relationship close enough to bring interest. The main problem was Campbell's unwillingness to leave the bridge of the Dauntless, and the "almost first person" point of view. Though the book was written in third person, Campbell never left Geary's side, and the character's reluctance to engage with anyone else made it a somewhat boring perspective. Main case in point - we watched one ship sacrifice itself to give the fleet enough time to escape, all from the point of view of Geary's bridge. With the half an hour delay, the scene played out like a TV show playing on the other side of a crowded room with the sound turned off. If Campbell had instead portrayed the scene from on board the doomed ship, the action would have been riveting. Likewise, if Campbell had brought us aboard the ships of Geary's rivals so we could hear their complaining and plotting, that would also have made it more interesting. There was nothing that I particularly disliked about the book, but it didn't interest me enough to want to read the next in the series.
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