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His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire Series #1)

His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire Series #1)

4.1 1269
by Naomi Novik

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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 Capt. Will Laurence from his


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 Capt. 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 their own baptism of fire.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Terrifically entertaining.”
–Stephen King
In her debut novel, Naomi Novik constructs a panoramic fantasy in which the British attack Napoleon's armies from the backs of flying dragons. With its convincing battle scenes and its arresting aerial heroes, His Majesty's Dragon bodes well for this budding novelist.
Rachel Hartigan Shea
… all hail Naomi Novik for seizing on an entirely different set of literary conventions for her fantasy debut -- the dashing Brits-on-ships genre perfected by Patrick O'Brian. In His Majesty's Dragon , Novik plunks her scaly beasts into the Napoleonic Wars, as members of the Aerial Corps, air cover for the beleaguered Royal Navy as it fends off a French invasion.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In this delightful first novel, the opening salvo of a trilogy, Novik seamlessly blends fantasy into the history of the Napoleonic wars. Here be dragons, beasts that can speak and reason, bred for strength and speed and used for aerial support in battle. Each nation has its own breeds, but none are so jealously guarded as the mysterious dragons of China. Veteran Capt. Will Laurence of the British Navy is therefore taken aback after his crew captures an egg from a French ship and it hatches a Chinese dragon, which Laurence names Temeraire. When Temeraire bonds with the captain, the two leave the navy to sign on with His Majesty's sadly understaffed Aerial Corps, which takes on the French in sprawling, detailed battles that Novik renders with admirable attention to 19th-century military tactics. Though the dragons they encounter are often more fully fleshed-out than the stereotypical human characters, the author's palpable love for her subject and a story rich with international, interpersonal and internal struggles more than compensate. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
During the Napoleonic wars, British Navy captain Will Laurence captures a French frigate with a dragon's egg aboard. When the egg hatches, Laurence's life is forever changed. Teremaire, the dragon, bonds closely with Laurence, forcing the captain to leave his beloved Navy life and join the Aerial Corps-the least respected but perhaps most critical branch of the armed forces. With their intelligence, devotion to their handlers and powerful flight and combat skills, dragons are vital for nations at war. This first novel is full of real, compelling characters about whom one cares. The reader aches with worry, seethes with rage, and sometimes exults. As the story progresses and Laurence and Teremaire train for their first battle, readers discover that Laurence is tough, stoic, smart, and fair, and that Teremaire is loving, intelligent, loyal, and fierce. They meet rogues, hardened fliers, nanve apprentices, wise commanders, and gentle souls encased in rough dragonhide. It is a wonderfully engaging, fast-paced tale similar to Patrick O'Brien or Jane Austen in its formal manners-but these are manners without stuffiness. The battle scenes are thrilling; dragons fly and fight as frigates of the sky, complete with multi-person crews aboard them. Although part of a trilogy, the novel has a satisfying conclusion all its own. Young teens may be put off by the formal language and manners Laurence exhibits, but Novik creates a very eighteenth-century world, and formality is a part of that. It is a great book for Jane Austen fans or strong readers who enjoyed Eragon and want to move to the next level. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2006, Del Rey, 384p., pb. Ages 12 to Adult.
—Geri Diorio
While serving the British during the Napoleonic Wars, Captain Will Laurence and the crew of the HMS Reliant capture a French ship that holds a treasured prize: a dragon egg that is due to hatch at any moment. Since a harnessed dragon has a great deal of monetary and military value, Captain Laurence recruits one member of his crew to harness the dragon when it hatches. Unfortunately, the hatchling rejects the Reliant crewman, and chooses Captain Laurence to harness him instead. The process is made official when Laurence provides the dragon with a name, Temeraire. At that moment, Laurence loses his position in the Navy, his father's respect, and his chance of marrying the woman he loves. On the other hand, he gains a faithful, compassionate, and intelligent dragon companion for life and begins a series of extraordinary adventures as a member of the Aerial Corps. As Laurence adjusts to life in the Corps, he remains honorable and duty-bound and earns the respect of the Corps dragons and their officers. While practicing maneuvers and formations with Temeraire and the other dragons and their riders, Laurence discovers even more of the creature's special talents. The close relationship between Laurence and Temeraire is quite endearing and the scenes showing human and dragon reading together are especially touching. Temeraire is a delight, and readers who enjoy dragon tales will especially enjoy the details of various dragon breeds, the eccentricities of dragon behavior, the humanity of the dragons, and the excitement of dragon battles. Fans of Christopher Paolini's novels and Anne McCaffrey's Pern series will especially appreciate the meaningful bond between human and dragonevident in the novel. Highly enjoyable and definitely recommended! The series continues with Novik's novels Throne of Jade and Black Powder War. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2006, Random House, Ballantine, 356p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Ginger Armstrong
Library Journal
Imagine that you are a British navy captain in the Napoleonic Wars. The last thing you want is to ruin your career and marital prospects by joining the Aerial Corps, a rather uncouth and secretive branch of the service, but duty calls, and the dragon egg you captured from aboard a French ship is about to hatch. Yes, a dragon egg-in this first of a trilogy, the British sea story is given a new twist: instead of tall ships, we have enormous flying dragons that make up an aerial combat force. Each dragon is paired at hatching with a captain, and the two form a close bond that gives an emotional center to what might otherwise have been just another alternate history. Novik's engaging debut is a perfect blend of the familiar and the fantastical, with both exciting air battles and the natural history of dragons described in what would be well-researched detail if it didn't happen to originate in the author's imagination. Fans of historical fantasies like Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell may enjoy. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [The second volume in this "Temeraire" series, Throne of Jade, will be published on April 25; the third and final, Black Powder War, on May 30.-Ed.]-Jenne Bergstrom, San Diego Cty. Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Temeraire Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.10(d)
1030L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

His Majesty's Dragon

By Naomi Novik

Random House

Naomi Novik
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345481283

Chapter One

The deck of the French ship was slippery with blood, heaving in the choppy sea; a stroke might as easily bring down the man making it as the intended target. Laurence did not have time in the heat of the battle to be surprised at the degree of resistance, but even through the numbing haze of battle-fever and the confusion of swords and pistol-smoke, he marked the extreme look of anguish on the French captain's face as the man shouted encouragement to his men.

It was still there shortly thereafter, when they met on the deck, and the man surrendered his sword, very reluctantly: at the last moment his hand half-closed about the blade, as if he meant to draw it back. Laurence looked up to make certain the colors had been struck, then accepted the sword with a mute bow; he did not speak French himself, and a more formal exchange would have to wait for the presence of his third lieutenant, that young man being presently engaged belowdecks in securing the French guns. With the cessation of hostilities, the remaining Frenchmen were all virtually dropping where they stood; Laurence noticed that there were fewer of them than he would have expected for a frigate of thirty-six guns, and that they looked ill and hollow-cheeked.

Many of them lay dead or dying upon the deck; he shook his head at the waste and eyedthe French captain with disapproval: the man should never have offered battle. Aside from the plain fact that the Reliant would have had the Amitie slightly outgunned and outmanned under the best of circumstances, the crew had obviously been reduced by disease or hunger. To boot, the sails above them were in a sad tangle, and that no result of the battle, but of the storm which had passed but this morning; they had barely managed to bring off a single broadside before the Reliant had closed and boarded. The captain was obviously deeply overset by the defeat, but he was not a young man to be carried away by his spirits: he ought to have done better by his men than to bring them into so hopeless an action.

"Mr. Riley," Laurence said, catching his second lieutenant's attention, "have our men carry the wounded below." He hooked the captain's sword on his belt; he did not think the man deserved the compliment of having it returned to him, though ordinarily he would have done so. "And pass the word for Mr. Wells."

"Very good, sir," Riley said, turning to issue the necessary orders. Laurence stepped to the railing to look down and see what damage the hull had taken. She looked reasonably intact, and he had ordered his own men to avoid shots below the waterline; he thought with satisfaction that there would be no difficulty in bringing her into port.

His hair had slipped out of his short queue, and now fell into his eyes as he looked over. He impatiently pushed it out of the way as he turned back, leaving streaks of blood upon his forehead and the sun-bleached hair; this, with his broad shoulders and his severe look, gave him an unconsciously savage appearance as he surveyed his prize, very unlike his usual thoughtful expression.

Wells climbed up from below in response to the summons and came to his side. "Sir," he said, without waiting to be addressed, "begging your pardon, but Lieutenant Gibbs says there is something queer in the hold."

"Oh? I will go and look," Laurence said. "Pray tell this gentleman," he indicated the French captain, "that he must give me his parole, for himself and his men, or they must be confined."

The French captain did not immediately respond; he looked at his men with a miserable expression. They would of course do much better if they could be kept spread out through the lower deck, and any recapture was a practical impossibility under the circumstances; still he hesitated, drooped, and finally husked, "Je me rends," with a look still more wretched.

Laurence gave a short nod. "He may go to his cabin," he told Wells, and turned to step down into the hold. "Tom, will you come along? Very good."

He descended with Riley on his heels, and found his first lieutenant waiting for him. Gibbs's round face was still shining with sweat and emotion; he would be taking the prize into port, and as she was a frigate, he almost certainly would be made post, a captain himself. Laurence was only mildly pleased; though Gibbs had done his duty reasonably, the man had been imposed on him by the Admiralty and they had not become intimates. He had wanted Riley in the first lieutenant's place, and if he had been given his way, Riley would now be the one getting his step. That was the nature of the service, and he did not begrudge Gibbs the good fortune; still, he did not rejoice quite so wholeheartedly as he would have to see Tom get his own ship.

"Very well; what's all this, then?" Laurence said now; the hands were clustered about an oddly placed bulkhead towards the stern area of the hold, neglecting the work of cataloguing the captured ship's stores.

"Sir, if you will step this way," Gibbs said. "Make way there," he ordered, and the hands backed away from what Laurence now saw was a doorway set inside a wall that had been built across the back of the hold; recently, for the lumber was markedly lighter than the surrounding planks.

Ducking through the low door, he found himself in a small chamber with a strange appearance. The walls had been reinforced with actual metal, which must have added a great deal of unnecessary weight to the ship, and the floor was padded with old sailcloth; in addition, there was a small coal-stove in the corner, though this was not presently in use. The only object stored within the room was a large crate, roughly the height of a man's waist and as wide, and this was made fast to the floor and walls by means of thick hawsers attached to metal rings.

Laurence could not help feeling the liveliest curiosity, and after a moment's struggle he yielded to it. "Mr. Gibbs, I think we shall have a look inside," he said, stepping out of the way. The top of the crate was thoroughly nailed down, but eventually yielded to the many willing hands; they pried it off and lifted out the top layer of packing, and many heads craned forward at the same time to see.

No one spoke, and in silence Laurence stared at the shining curve of eggshell rising out of the heaped straw; it was scarcely possible to believe. "Pass the word for Mr. Pollitt," he said at last; his voice sounded only a little strained. "Mr. Riley, pray be sure those lashings are quite secure."

Riley did not immediately answer, too busy staring; then he jerked to attention and said, hastily, "Yes, sir," and bent to check the bindings.

Laurence stepped closer and gazed down at the egg. There could hardly be any doubt as to its nature, though he could not say for sure from his own experience. The first amazement passing, he tentatively reached out and touched the surface, very cautiously: it was smooth and hard to the touch. He withdrew almost at once, not wanting to risk doing it some harm.

Mr. Pollitt came down into the hold in his awkward way, clinging to the ladder edges with both hands and leaving bloody prints upon it; he was no kind of a sailor, having become a naval surgeon only at the late age of thirty, after some unspecified disappointments on land. He was nevertheless a genial man, well liked by the crew, even if his hand was not always the steadiest at the operating table. "Yes, sir?" he said, then saw the egg. "Good Lord above."

"It is a dragon egg, then?" Laurence said. It required an effort to restrain the triumph in his voice.

"Oh, yes indeed, Captain, the size alone shows that." Mr. Pollitt had wiped his hands on his apron and was already brushing more straw away from the top, trying to see the extent. "My, it is quite hardened already; I wonder what they can have been thinking, so far from land."

This did not sound very promising. "Hardened?" Laurence said sharply. "What does that mean?"

"Why, that it will hatch soon. I will have to consult my books to be certain, but I believe that Badke's Bestiary states with authority that when the shell has fully hardened, hatching will occur within a week. What a splendid specimen, I must get my measuring cords."

He bustled away, and Laurence exchanged a glance with Gibbs and Riley, moving closer so they might speak without being overheard by the lingering gawkers. "At least three weeks from Madeira with a fair wind, would you say?" Laurence said quietly.

"At best, sir," Gibbs said, nodding.

"I cannot imagine how they came to be here with it," Riley said. "What do you mean to do, sir?"

His initial satisfaction turning gradually into dismay as he realized the very difficult situation, Laurence stared at the egg blankly. Even in the dim lantern light, it shone with the warm luster of marble. "Oh, I am damned if I know, Tom. But I suppose I will go and return the French captain his sword; it is no wonder he fought so furiously after all."

Except of course he did know; there was only one possible solution, unpleasant as it might be to contemplate. Laurence watched broodingly while the egg was transferred, still in its crate, over to the Reliant: the only grim man, except for the French officers. He had granted them the liberty of the quarterdeck, and they watched the slow process glumly from the rail. All around them, smiles wreathed every sailor's face, private, gloating smiles, and there was a great deal of jostling among the idle hands, with many unnecessary cautions and pieces of advice called out to the sweating group of men engaged in the actual business of the transfer.

The egg being safely deposited on the deck of the Reliant, Laurence took his own leave of Gibbs. "I will leave the prisoners with you; there is no sense in giving them a motive for some desperate attempt to recapture the egg," he said. "Keep in company, as well as you can. However, if we are separated, we will rendezvous at Madeira. You have my most hearty congratulations, Captain," he added, shaking Gibbs's hand.

"Thank you, sir, and may I say, I am most sensible--very grateful--" But here Gibbs's eloquence, never in great supply, failed him; he gave up and merely stood beaming widely on Laurence and all the world, full of great goodwill.

The ships had been brought abreast for the transfer of the crate; Laurence did not have to take a boat, but only sprang across on the up-roll of the swell. Riley and the rest of his officers had already crossed back. He gave the order to make sail, and went directly below, to wrestle with the problem in privacy.

Excerpted from His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Naomi Novik is the acclaimed author of His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, Tongues of Serpents, Crucible of Gold, and Blood of Tyrants, the first eight volumes of the Temeraire series. She has been nominated for the Hugo Award and has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, as well as the Locus Award for Best New Writer and the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. She is also the author of the graphic novel Will Supervillains Be on the Final?
Fascinated with both history and legends, Novik is a first-generation American raised on Polish fairy tales and stories of Baba Yaga. Her own adventures include pillaging degrees in English literature and computer science from various ivory towers, designing computer games, and helping to build the Archive of Our Own for fanfiction and other fanworks. Novik is a co-founder of the Organization for Transformative Works.
She lives in New York City with her husband, Charles Ardai, the founder of Hard Case Crime, and their daughter, Evidence, surrounded by an excessive number of purring computers.

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His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1269 reviews.
Cujo253 More than 1 year ago
I was never a dragon person, whenever saw a dragon book I would dismiss it without a scone thought. I had read dragon and had never honestly liked it so I thought ok one last try... And holy temeraire was blown away, just a perfect mix of true history with that enveloping fantasy of dragons just seemed to carry me away on a journey. before I knew it I had read "In His Majesty's Service" cover to cover in 4 hours just pondering wether or not I should go drive and get the next one right away or eat lunch first. Amzing novel, fantastically wrote, thank you Naomi for such a fantastic book. I will have to look forward to keeping track with all your books to come!
JohnP51 More than 1 year ago
I got this book as a Free Friday book. While I am not one for the fantasy genre outside of Tolkein, I was hooked on this book from the first page. I am now on book two and intend on reading the entire series. Naomi Novik takes the familiar "a boy and his dog" story and creates a "British naval captain and his dragon" theme that works flawlessly to answer the question, "What if the Napoleanic wars were fought with the use of dragons. There is something here for everyone. From heartwarming (how can you not love Levitas?) to intense action.
mnsib More than 1 year ago
I did not expect this book to be very good as it is not the type I typically read but I found it gripping and very well written. I will begin the next one in the series with great enthusiasm.
Mule_Skinner More than 1 year ago
Naomi Novik has done an enjoyable job of blending a scifi enthusiastists view of dragons with a historians view of Napolean's life time. The view of dragons stays close to many of the legends and myths associated with dragons but Ms. Novik brings those into a balanced view that is acurate to history. She tells a story that moves along easily and that keeps the reader engaged. Her knowledge of the British Navy brings a reality to the story that makes it almost plausible. Her development of her characters is well done with characters who stand out from the pages of the book. The relationship between the dragons and the humans in the story is very effectively developed. Because of the setting of the story, those who might not be scifi enthusiasts will find much to recommend this story. A most enjoyable alternate history that pulls together the strengths of history and the imagination of scifi literature.
LadyJai More than 1 year ago
This was my first encounter with Dragons. I intended to begin with the Pern series, but a friend of mine talked me into this one. I'm glad she did as I fell in love with Temeraire--his inquisitive and intelligent mind. I can foresee his coming philosophical ideals and challanges. I fell in love with Laurence's constant struggle between what is good, proper and expected and what is wholly life. Temeraire opens Laurence's heart and mind, with his "innocence of a child" questions and comments. All the dragons are so loveable. Historic events are included in this story that are accurate and make the story that much more real. Reading this book, we could all wish for dragons! There are characters you could love to hate, and character you would hate to love. There is potential for the rest of the series. I am looking forward to more. I must continue...
vpgypsy More than 1 year ago
I was given this book a couple of weeks ago at the C2E2 convention in Chicago, IL and thought what the heck - funny thing is I couldn't put it down! I generally read romance fantasy fiction and when I asked if there was a romance I almost put it aside - I'm SOOO Glad I didn't and would recommend this series to anyone who loves dragons or just a phenomial epic drama that includes masterful characterization juxtiposed against the napolianic war era. Temeraire is my favorite dragon ever, and his captian of course. The arial combat scenes and naval battle scenes I swear I could actually feel the thunder and heat . . . I was enthralled, simply terrific!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've always been a dragon person and I thought this book might be too military-ie for me. Turns out it was a perfectly fresh spin on the old dragon tale I love so much. Thank you Naomi!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book many times; it is fast becoming as familiar to me as Pride and Prejuduce or Master and Commander. It is amark of its excellence that it is not really dwarfed by such illustrious company. Many of the rest of this series are extremely enjoyable, but none are quite as outstanding as this first book. To some extent, that is because I don't really like the direction the author takes us in her revision of history or in the development of Lawrence's character. However, Temeraire is so excellent and likeable a character that I am always going to want to see what next happens to him, whether I care for the author's storyline or not.. In any event, I can only most heartily recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really LOVED this book very much. It has a good plot and I have fallen in love with the character Temeraire because of his rarity, grace, and beauty, along with his desire to protect Laurence. I have read the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini and this ranks up there, if not higher. So excited to read the next book, PLEASE buy this one, as long as you have the love for dragons you will love this book too!
Rhyasha0724 More than 1 year ago
If you like dragons, this is a must read! I started readind about dragons with Anne McCaffrey's Pern stories, but Temeraire quickly became one of my favorite dragons. One of the fun parts of this series is seeing how Temeraire's point of view is so different from that of his captain, Laurence. All of the characters, both dragon and human, are well-developed, and the plot is exciting! I have read this book several times and loaned it to others. This is one of my favorite series and I can't wait until the next one comes out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like fantasy and historical fiction, or even just one or the other, you will love this
deesy58 More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully-written story about dragons that is set during the Napoleonic Wars. It is largely believable as a thesis, and the story is well-told and difficult to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy "heroic" adventure type books this is the one for you. I sugest thisfor people who enjoy fanticy/ficton type books as well
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The charaters are strong and I love the combination of fantasy and history. The Napoleonic Wars are fascinating in their own right and when you add in dragons? Awesome.
leeleebee More than 1 year ago
I got attached to Temaraire and the relationship with Capt. Laurence. I now have to purchase the rest of the books in the series, because I need to know what happens.
meganc66 More than 1 year ago
I love this book! I was skeptical about downloading this book because I'm not usually big into dragons, but it was recommended by other reviews and I'm so grateful! This book was wonderful, and I loved every page of it! I love the way the dragons are explained and the great visual that you get from the author. The main character, Laurence, is developed well and I really enjoyed his turmoils and changes in character from the beginning of the book to the end. My only complaint would have been that I wanted to read more, but I know that all books must end somewhere. :) Definitely would recommend to anyone that likes fantasy fiction type of books- awesome read.
Anonymous 9 months ago
But it was very readable and fun. I loved the developing bond between Laurence and his drsgon..and the glimpse into the Alternative reality of our own..but with dragons
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read two the first day, three the second,and am now halfway through number seven. I can't believe I never saw these before. I got the first because I happened to see it at the store in an end cap full of "first books". Then I looked it up right there and bought it. I should have looked farther because the first three are available for $9.99, a $5 saving. Make sure you keep water and snacks on hand so you don't get dehydrated while reading... I realized at the end of book 5 I hadn't eaten in 8 hours. It is very difficult to stop in the middle, as the dragonet said when told to save half his kangaroo for breakfast: "It's hard to stop when the other half is right there in front of you."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing series from the very start. If you like dragons then you will love this story. Excelent writing. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exceptional in style and originality.
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