Posted November 25, 2013 by Jaclyn Tan in Books

DRAGON CORPS 1804: Temeraire

In the early 1800’s, Napoleon Bonaparte rose from military officer to French emperor and began a series of conflicts that would be named the Napoleonic Wars. These conflicts would involve every major European country in the known world of that time. Napoleon’s victories in these Wars have named him one of the greatest military commanders of all time; his campaigns are studied extensively in military schools all over the world.

Now imagine the same Napoleonic Wars with dragons.

His Majesty’s Dragon /

Naomi Novik wrote the Temeraire series, an alternative historical fantasy series set during the Napoleonic Wars and fought with dragons. It tells the story of Captain William Laurence of the British Royal Navy, whom by a stroke of misfortune, found himself the handler of a newly hatched dragonet. He was reluctant at first, since becoming a handler would mean he would have to leave the Royal Navy for the British Aerial Corps and polite society for a community that is known for its crass behaviour. But  soon enough, he and the dragonet named Temeraire develop a deep bond between themselves that would be tested time and again.

With an eighth book recently released last August, Naomi Novik created a world with sentient dragons, a charismatic Napoleon, and a main character who eventually realizes that what’s right is not necessarily the most honourable option. The richly detailed Temeraire series brings to life not only the characters in it but its world and cultures as well.

On one hand you have the stiff British society, who has high notions of nobility and a strict distinction of classes. On the other hand, there’s the more liberal French just settling down after the French revolution; and other countries on the side like grandiose China, bitter Africa, devious Turkey, and even power-hungry Incas.  This is one series that literally spans the known world of the 19th Century, bringing a sense of the bigger picture without taking away attention from Laurence and Temeraire.

Launched in just 2004, Temeraire has been widely received worldwide and was even optioned by Peter Jackson for a movie back in 2006. An interview with IGN in 2009 though, reveals that Jackson has considered making the books into a mini-series instead, fearing that if the first movie became a flop, it would leave the story greatly unfinished.

But whether the Temeraire series will grace the television or movie screen, readers will still be immersed in the life and times of being in an Aerial Corps in the early 19th Century.

Jaclyn Tan