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Publisher's Summary

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain's defense by taking to the skies - not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo - an unhatched dragon egg - fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.

Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France's own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte's boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into a baptism of fire.

Don't miss the rest of the Temeraire series: Book 2: Throne of Jade and Book 3: Black Powder War.
©2006 Naomi Novik (P)2007 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

  • Locus Award, 2007
  • Hugo Award nominee, Best Novel, 2007

"Delightful...Novik seamlessly blends fantasy into the history of the Napoleonic wars." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Janet
  • Pinehurst, NC, USA
  • 10-12-07

Dragon Riders of Pern meet Master and Commander

The comparison is a little simplistic, but this alternative history is tons of fun. The characters are consistant with the period, the writing is good, and Simon Vance is one of the best readers anywhere. I loved every minute of this book. A great adventure!

4 and a half was what I wanted, but it didn't quite reach my 5 star threshold.

33 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Melanie
  • Stoneham, MA, United States
  • 07-08-10

Excellent AU period fantasy

The tone of the writing fits the setting perfectly, and the narrator matches as though the book were written specifically for him.

Some reviewers have complained that the story is tedious. Certainly the writing style is deliberate and considered, but as I said, it matches the setting and especially the naval character of Lawrence, the main character whose perspective is our own. Anyone who needs a very fast-paced writing style (like Carl Hiassan) might dislike it, but anyone who can tolerate Tolkein would have no trouble.

Temeraire is delightful, and Lawrence is such a good man. His gradual shift from the navy to the aerial corps is believable and involving; his struggle with integrating himself into the new culture is fraught with pitfalls that are paralleled nicely by Temeraire's difficulty with being a rare breed.

Lawrence's stiff manner and preoccupation with propriety stem from a powerful and selfless desire to do the right thing, both for his country and for his loved ones, making behavior that would come off as pompous in another man seem heartfelt and honest from him.

What little aerial combat there is (surprisingly little if you're expecting a war, but for the story and Temeraire's age it's appropriate) is occasionally paced a bit oddly, but in truth, the action sequences are exceptionally easy to follow, dramatic, and realistic, with real consequences and believable decision-making, none of the absurd posturing of the usual fantasy battle scene.

In short, Naomi does an excellent job of convincing the reader that her world is real, that dragons are real, that we know a guy named Lawrence, that he has a dragon named Temeraire, and that we care about them both.

30 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Brandon
  • American Fork, UT, United States
  • 02-21-14

Very Much Enjoyed This Book

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed His Majesty's Dragon, and in the time since I finished it, I've come to appreciate it even more. I liked it while I was reading it, but in comparison to other things, this has stuck with me more. It is a delightful story, the narration was very good, and I give the book my highest recommendation.

I've got this weird thing going on where Naomi Novik and I actually were up for the same award when we first broke into the business, and she thoroughly trounced me. So I don't give this recommendation lightly, since she is--next to John Scalzi--my secondary evil nemesis :), but also by all accounts a very nice person.

I very much enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of the series.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Adnan
  • Chula Vista, CA, United States
  • 11-15-11

Elegent / civilized and beautiful story

If you could sum up His Majesty's Dragon in three words, what would they be?

Its an elegent story that is beautifully written. Langugage flows effortlessly from the author who has created a very civilized character.

What did you like best about this story?

The best thing about the book is the relationship between the rider and captain. It is not a relationship between a young person and his/her favorite animal, but instead it is a relationship between a mature accomplished man and an intelligent being who is almost human in his emotions.

Which character ??? as performed by Simon Vance ??? was your favorite?

Simon Vance does a great job throughout as usual. I come to expect the best from Simon and he delivers every single time.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

There were moments when reader might feel that it is the reader who is riding the dragon instead of the character which can be very rewarding.

Any additional comments?

Normally, I do not read books with talking dragons; therefore, it is my first book with a dragon. I am happy that I took a chance that author and narrator has done a great job, and I look forward to the next book in the series.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Charles
  • LaPorte, IN, United States
  • 08-16-10

Same Narrator as the Stieg Larson series

Story is very well written. The narration is enjoyable. I loved the Stieg Larson series in a big way because of Simon Vance's narration. I found out about this Dragon series from a list of favorite authors listed by Jim Butcher. It was a great pick! Well worth the Credit

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Book

I truly enjoyed this book. The author did a great job of combining fantasy with history. This novel is a combination of Hornblower and Eragon (but much better than Eragon). The author developed characters that are believable and have depth to them. The battles that the dragons fought is were fast moving. It is a great book to past your time in traffic, you may wish your drive was longer so you did not have to turn it off.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Unique perspective of dragon rider

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Talking dragons fighting in Napoleonic wars

Good storytelling with believable characters (including the dragons) set in the Napoleonic wars. She does a fine job of keeping the flavor of historical fiction like C. S. Forester and Cornwal. There are still a couple of problems you need to try to overlook. The author has no sense of scale and no understanding of physics. Dragons change size, people jump from one to another in flight with wing spreads of hundreds of feet. Even with this I enjoyed it.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Unique, fun, and well-written!

Would you listen to His Majesty's Dragon again? Why?

I've already listened to this book 5 times. It's a fun listen. I have recommended it to several friends as a great "serious enough to pay attention to, but fun enough to listen to in the car" book. Light on the silly supernatural (no sexy vampires here) and heavy on personal interaction and historical setting, the Temeraire series is a great way to enjoy an alternate universe of the Napoleonic Wars. Novik's books in this series explore many of the continents of the early 19th Century complete with dragons and foreign cultures that are well-researched and described.

What other book might you compare His Majesty's Dragon to and why?

Hard to compare... Master and Commander? ... but with dragons.

What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Vance's narration is wonderful. Covering accents from around the world and a great diversity of characters, he does an excellent job of giving a feel for the language and actions in the books.

Any additional comments?

This is the first book in a great series!! I highly recommend this book to readers who yearn for historical fiction mixed with fantasy. This is no witches, spells, sexy vampires fighting with musclebound werewolves for silly high school girls who only know the word "Beautiful" to describe things. This is much more a travelogue or war story set in the age of cannons and sails with real historical figures intermixed with aerial corps of dragons.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Margaret
  • Corryton, TN, United States
  • 04-24-09

Great Book

I am looking forward to listening to the next 4 books. The characters are very real in my mind, they are very well developed. I like the narrator, too - he does a very good job of bringing the characters to life.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful