Author: Naomi Novak
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 46
(see breakdown below)
Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old; finding a warmer berth in Nelson’s navy than any he enjoyed as the youngest, least important son of Lord Allendale. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful fiancee, society’s esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to overrun her shores.
After a skirmish with a French ship, Laurence finds himself in charge of a rare cargo: a dragon egg bound for the Emperor himself. Dragons are much prized: properly trained, they can mount a fearsome attack from the skies.
One of Laurence’s men must take the beast in hand and join the aviators’ cause, thus relinquishing all hope of a normal life. But when the newly-hatched dragon ignores the young midshipman Laurence chose as its keeper and decides to imprint itself on the horrified captain instead, Laurence’s world falls apart. Gone is his golden future: gone his social standing, and soon his beautiful fiancee, as he is consigned to be the constant companion and trainer of the fighting dragon Temeraire.
I think this is definitely one of those why did I wait so long to pick up this book. I really really enjoyed it. It’s hard to describe this book as it is essentially a world building book. It is the perfect mix of How to Train your Dragon set with military tactics and alternate history.
We get some fantastic insight into how dragons are integrated into this world. We learn about how they are used in the military how they are trained, the bonds between the dragons and riders, all peppered in amongst snippets of action and battles. Despite it being slow paced it is also strangely a page turner. I wanted to know everything so would just keep reading. It is detailed without being boring, in-depth without being overwhelming which makes it a great read. The use of the dragons was so inventive but it also felt established as part of the military. But when it really comes down to it this is a book about building relationships.
I adored the building of the relationship between Captain Laurence and Temeraire and what influence that had on both of them. I like how it challenged Laurence’s perceptions and how he struggled to adapt completely. I loved how women were incorporated into this world in a way only alternate history can do, and again how this challenged Laurence’s impressions and Society bread inclinations.
It is also filled with moments that tug your emotions in all different ways, I felt angry with characters, I mourned with them, I worried for others safety and felt their elation too. Overall I really feel I love with Temeraire and will happily continue in his story.