Saturday, November 13, 2021

Review: HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON by Naomi Novik


Rating: 2/5 stars

Well, after reading five of her books and giving them all two stars, I can safely conclude that Naomi Novik’s books are just not for me.

I am rather upset about this fact as all of Novik’s books have amazing synopses and all sound like books I would enjoy, yet every one I’ve read has fallen short for me. I think it’s just her writing style, although I have had separate problems with each book. I really can’t say for certain why but they’re all disappointing. 

His Majesty’s Dragon will likely be the penultimate Naomi Novik book that I ever read. I intend to finish the Scholomance trilogy, but that is it. I will not be continuing with the Temeraire series as it isn’t my preferred style of story and I don’t care to know what happens in the other books. 

This book is pitched as the Napoleonic wars with dragons, which is pretty accurate. While I love dragons, I don’t care for books with a heavy focus on war strategy, or a heavy focus on history, or that take place on boats. And unfortunately, this series has all of those aspects, and the dragons aren’t enough to make me love everything else.

The story in His Majesty’s Dragon starts with the ship that Laurence is on capturing another ship, and when the crew searches the cargo hold, they find a dragon egg. The crew members draw sticks for who will be the one to bond with the dragon when it hatches, and because Laurence is our protagonist, we know he will be the one who bonds with the dragon, who he names Temeraire. 

I did like Temeraire as a character and his relationship with Laurence, but I didn’t care about any other characters. I didn’t care about naval war strategy or what Napoleon was up to or about Laurence’s home life or really any aspect of the book other than our dragon friend. Plus there were long stretches of exposition without any dialogue, and that got tiring to read. 

This book reads like classical fantasy to me, and it feels very historical. More like historical fiction with a fantastical aspect rather than a fantasy with a historical aspect. While I didn’t love that, it does make the story feel more authentic, in my opinion. Novik used words in here that were so antiquated that I’ve only ever seen them in the Bible before, and if that’s not authenticity then I don’t know what is. I think this book is well-written, but like I said earlier, it has a lot of components that aren’t my preference, which resulted in me not wanting to read any more books in the world. I didn’t dislike this book, per se, but I found myself struggling to pick it up and not caring about anything in the story when I did. 

If His Majesty’s Dragon sounds like a book you’d enjoy then I encourage you to check it out because it really does have a cool concept. I really wish I liked it more than I did. 

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