Temeraire, dear old Temeraire

by Maria on June 11, 2008

Fans of Captain Laurence and Temeraire will be delighted to hear the latest installment of Naomi Novik’s wonderful Napoleonic dragon series is almost here. And in the meantime, there’s a teaser chapter to enjoy. Roll on the 8th of July!



Doug 06.11.08 at 6:44 am

You’ve read Timothy Burke’s bit about the third book, right? He’s a historian specializing in Africa with a sideline in games and technology, so Empire of Ivory was practically written for him. The discussion, except possibly for my comments, is also good.


stuart 06.11.08 at 10:42 am

Napoleonic dragon series? So on the retreat from Moscow his army presumably resorts to eating their dragons due to supply problems, leading them to be defeated by the Russian partisans due to lack of air support.


Maria 06.11.08 at 11:39 am

Hi Doug, yes I have (though I’ve not yet read the book in question – think it’s the 4th in the series and I’m only up to the Chinese adventure). Thanks for the link to it. Should have thought of it myself.


Doug 06.11.08 at 1:39 pm

Stuart, at the outset it’s more Patrick O’Brian with scaly beasts, but the series is getting more ambitious as an alt-history as it goes along. I think we’re more in the Austerlitz/Jena era than the drive to Moscow. Said beasts were also more likely to eat than be eaten, but otherwise, lack of air support is an issue. You’d think that a couple thousand years of air power would have modified European history more than Novik portrays, but not questioning the basic premise is part of our willing suspension of disbelief.


Dave 06.11.08 at 2:35 pm

*cough*bollocks*cough* “The ball came in down through the ship’s bows and crashed recklessly the length of the lower deck, the drumroll of its passage preceding it with castanets of splinters raining against the walls for accompaniment…”

If you think that’s anything like Patrick O’Brian you need to change your reading-habits…


Kate Nepveu 06.11.08 at 2:53 pm

FWIW: The linked piece by Burke is based on the incorrect premise that there were no American colonies (see book 3, chapter 11). (I’d have said so there but I refuse to register to leave comments at any blog.)


Doug 06.11.08 at 3:01 pm


roac 06.12.08 at 2:20 pm

Somebody is going to have to do a selling job to get me to look at these. (Comparable to what it took to get me to consider the possibility that Aubrey/Maturin was more than just another Hornblower knockoff series.) On its face, this appears to be a knockoff of Forester/O’Brian plus Susanna Clarke plus McCaffrey.


PersonFromPorlock 06.12.08 at 2:47 pm

Vastly entertaining series; my main problem is that the dragons’ airspeed and rate of wingbeating just doesn’t add up to something that moves enough air to stay aloft without outright magic. But since Temeraire’s talents are still being discovered, this is easily fixed.


Nick 06.12.08 at 5:11 pm


Are you factoring in the (unspecified) size of the internal gasbags that are mentioned in several of the novels?


Dave 06.13.08 at 7:39 am

Are any of you factoring in the fact that this is tripe, clearly written, if I may judge from the sample chapter online, for younger teenagers of an impressionable and largely unquestioning disposition? A world that is *just like ours*, right down to the chronology of the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons! Whoo!!


Maria 06.13.08 at 5:27 pm

You can read it that way, Dave, just as you can read Philip Pullman’s trilogy as purely a children’s tale of adventure.

Novik has some rather interesting things to say about sentience and ‘human’ rights that have a bearing on feminism today.

Or you can just tag along and enjoy the wild dragon-ride and a pretty decent alternative history. Either way is fine.


PL 06.13.08 at 5:49 pm

Maria: Nice response.

I enjoyed the books myself — got 3 as a present, bought the 4th (although it is still waiting to be read), and they are perfectly decent. The series suffers (as so many F/SF series do) with some insufficiently-thought out bits introduced early on causing plotting problems in later books, but the characters are likable, the plots engaging, the alternate history not completely silly, and a certain amount of deeper themes if you care to pursue them.


Dave 06.13.08 at 5:59 pm

“pretty decent alternative history”…

with DRAGONS…..

written by someone who thinks cannonballs move recklessly [as opposed to what? Cautiously?]


Dave 06.13.08 at 6:05 pm

In other words – I don’t care if it’s all lovely touchy-feely and “has some rather interesting things to say about sentience and ‘human’ rights that have a bearing on feminism today”, it’s badly-written tosh. By all means put dragons in your books AND offer interesting sidelights on the problems of discrimination, but for feck’s sake try to WRITE WELL FIRST.

And p.s. it is probably just me, but this blog takes a pretty highfalutin tone at times, especially when it starts talkin’ eeeconommicks. Not sure whether I’m glad or sad to see posters taking an interest in third-rate fantasy fiction.


PersonFromPorlock 06.14.08 at 11:08 pm


Are you factoring in the (unspecified) size of the internal gasbags that are mentioned in several of the novels?

I’ve read the first four books in the series and to tell the truth I have no recollection of ‘internal gasbags’ at all.


PersonFromPorlock 06.14.08 at 11:17 pm

Other nit-pick: Novik has people on the deck of a ship watching a naval battle sixty miles away. That’s some freeboard (2000 feet)!

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