The year is 1804. Captain Will Laurence of the Royal Navy and his crew capture a French warship. On board they find a dragon egg; a prize worth a princely sum to the British war effort. The egg hatches and the dragon, whomÂ Laurence names Temeraire, imprints on him as his handler. Laurence must leave the Royal Navy to join the Flying Corps, and entirely foreign environment for him.
His Majesty’s Dragon is a delightful novel, full of whooping-out-loud-inducingÂ adventure set in a period of gentlemen, honour and heroic deeds. There’s a Horatio Hornblower vibe over the story, which dares to be high adventure without dwelling too much over the fact that dragons do exist andÂ are simply part of the world. A somewhat storied and mysticalÂ part, to be sure, but there is noÂ further explanation required or necessary. Ms. Novik doesn’tÂ bend over backwards to make theÂ existence of these beasts plausible, but simply integrates them into history as we know it, making for some striking images. For example, dragon formations crewed with gunners and boarders striking at convoys in the English channel. The entire organization of dragons in battle as couriers, support aircraft or heavy strike beasts depending on size and ability rapidly starts to seemÂ entirely plausible given the historical background. And so, even though it is full of dragons, the novel doesn’t feel very much like fantasy at all, keeping its thematic roots firmly in the historical novel and alternate history camps.