I spent most of September listening to the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, read by the marvelous Simon Vance. I borrowed it from my public library.
About the Books:
I already talked about the first book in this series, His Majesty’s Dragon. Rather than summarize each book, I’ll just say this series is basically the Napoleonic Wars with dragons. If you’d like to hear more, check out my earlier post!
A former coworker recommended this series all the time. Constantly. To me, to customers. Honestly, I wasn’t sold on the premise. I’m not sure exactly why I finally picked the first book up, years after I first heard about Temeraire, but goodness I am glad I did.
Many of you know I’m not a huge fantasy reader. I’m discovering I like more of it than I thought I did, but you probably know that if I profess my undying love for a fantasy series, it must be something special, no? Well. This is me, professing my undying love for Lawrence, Temeraire, and these glorious audiobooks. I can’t say whether I’d love them as much in print (if you’ve read them, care to weigh in?), but as audiobooks, they are wonderful.
Rather than treat each book individually, I’ve assembled for you a list of all the excellent things about this series (in no particular order). *Ahem.*
- These books span the globe, and Novik incorporates not only the geography and the people history and culture but an entire dragon history and culture to go along with it. The breeds and customs of the dragons around the world are as diverse and fascinating as the races and customs of people. Novik also gives human-dragon relations in each corner of the world their own flavor.
- Novik has also imagined a new piece to Britain’s royal forces: the aerial corps. This branch has its own rules, culture, and habits and is often starkly contrasted with the navy.
- Even though the narration focuses on Lawrence and Temeraire, the rest of the world does not simply stand still. Events occur in their absence, messages arrive too late, news arrives to keep them apprised of what is happening in the wider world. They are never isolated but always part of the bigger picture.
- Lawrence is the best kind of hero. He is honorable, moral, and brave. He is humble but most likely dashing (at least, that’s how I imagine him). His loyalty to Britain can get a little maddening, but you love him all the more for sticking to his guns.
- Temeraire is as real a character as Lawrence. He has his own quirks and personality. I have not read a lot of dragon books, but Temeraire is much more interesting than and quite different from what I had imagined dragons in literature would be like.
- For people who think they don’t like fantasy, this is a great introduction. The dragons are the only fantastical element, and Novik weaves them into her story and her world so seamlessly that at times you forget they aren’t really supposed to be there.
- Even though the series is already six books long, I don’t feel it’s begun the downward spiral that longer series often drift into as they go. The first book was my favorite, just because I was so delighted by the novelty of it, but I have not felt any of the following books to be a weak link in the chain. Even when the plot would maybe not hold my interest on its own, the delightful characters and creative touches Novik adds throughout keep me going.
Also, a few notes that pertain specifically to the audiobooks:
- Simon Vance is amazing. His voices are distinct and consistent, he makes each character’s personality shine through, and he has that delicious British accent. Seriously. Perfect.
- Vance also has a way of reading that makes odd moments very funny. He inflects certain bits in a way that often had me giggling at something I most likely would not have picked up in print.
- They’re the perfect length, falling around 8 to 10 discs each, just long enough for a good adventure but not so long that they drag.
There you have it: my best attempt to get someone out there to give this series a try. Any takers?