Review: His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) ~ Naomi Novik

his majesty's dragonISBN ~ 978-0345481283
Publisher ~ Del Rey
No. Of Pages ~ 356 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors’ ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.

Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

5 Thumbs-UpI have to admit I wasn’t expecting much from this book, after all I found it lying around on the floor at the recent Emerald City Comicon so it that didn’t bode well for it.  Once again I was proved very wrong and was pulled into this novel from the very first page; how can I have not known of this series before now? It definitely falls into the category of one of those great little secrets that not enough people know about.

The characters in this first book in the series are well-developed, but not to the point where there is no room for growth, and there is no romance which is very rare in this genre of book.  The relationship covered in this first book is that between a man and his dragon; the Temeraire (the main dragon protagonist) and Laurence (the main human protagonist) bond is a deeply emotional connection. There is palpable love between man and dragon, and their relationship is the emotional thread that weaves through the novel.   Temeraire is intelligent, logical and witty with a childlike wonder for the new world in which he finds himself.  Laurence is the battle proven Naval Captain that patiently guides him through the world in the best way he knows.  Neither of these characters have experience with the world of the other, but the Author brings those two worlds together via these characters in a realistic and caring manner.  The Author captures the warmness and sincerity of their bond, enough to give balance to all the colder, plot-driven elements of the story.   This novel is primarily an adventure, a story in wartime, an exploration of dragons in this fascinating alternate history society, but in its writing the Author doesn’t neglect the warmer, more ‘human’ side of things. There are moments of extreme emotion and emotional distress, mostly due to the closeness that aviators develop with their dragons, and each moment played out realistically. When it comes to moments of high emotion I feel that each one has to be earned in character, in story, in meaning, and I feel cheated when I think the Author  is trying to manipulate me to respond;  this Author used no manipulative techniques at all as the reader is right there feeling everything with the characters.

The world-building is handled with startling grace, given that this is the Author’s first novel.   This was one of the main pleasures of this book for me; the authentic feel of the world that was built.   It is apparent that extensive amounts of research went into correctly portraying 19th century English society, from the realities of the Navy to the manners of the drawing-room.   And best, none of it is done in a lecturing way; it is all of it presented as naturally as possible. The Author hasn’t  let research intrude  at all upon telling the story, and better yet, her addition of dragons into this world is so well thought-out (from their feeding, breeds, natural inclinations, personalities, levels of intelligence, size and temperament, mode of fighting and the innovative invention of aerial fighting) that it adds to the depiction of the historical period. In a seamless manner the Author grafts on her inventions to the known historical realities, and comes up with a beautifully realised fictional world that’s meticulously detailed and worked out. I particularly liked the fact that there is so much thought given to how the dragons would fit into this society, and she succeeds in a way that few Authors in this genre succeed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes dragons, alternate realities or fantasy; actually I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good, well written story and feel that even readers of the Master and Commander and Dragonriders series of books would enjoy this as well.   I will definitely be reading the remaining books in this series.

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Guest Review: Echoing Sacrifice: Traveler ~ Jessica Dodson

When writing their novels the reader knows that each Author has their own unique style and it appears by this review by Author Lex Allen, that is spans into the writing of reviews of other peoples’ work.  Lex gave this book a 5 star review.

echoing sacrificeStill reeling from the death of her parents, thirteen-year-old Khyl Livingston’s entire existence revolves around the care and protection of her brothers. But when an accident strands her in Dolimar, a world populated by both humans and dragons, she finds yet another child in desperate need of protection.

Rever barely survived the slaughter of the Echo Dragons at the hand of the Betrayer. When he meets Khyl, old wounds at last begin to heal, and their growing friendship distracts him from his need for vengeance. But the courageous Traveler couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Betrayer returns to Rever’s home, this time with an army and the intent to carry out a deadly bargain with the greatest threat in all Dolimar.

Bound in friendship and united by common purpose, Khyl and Rever stand against the Betrayer and his allies in order to save an innocent child from a fate worse than death. Dolimar itself hangs in the balance, and one wrong choice could cost them everything they hold dear.

Including each other.

Dear Jessica Dodson,

I am writing to personally thank you for committing the time and effort it must have cost you to write “Echoing Sacrifice: Traveler”. Without the slightest insincerity, I have to tell you that I think that this book will one-day become a classic among fantasy/world-building stories and novels. It must take a special kind of imagination, perseverance and aptitude to put together a novel of this magnitude and complexity while maintaining an easy to read level of dialogue, narrative descriptives and a huge cast of characters.

The premise—teenage girl from our world (Khyl – First Creation) enters the parallel universe (Dolimar) of Rever (Echo Dragon Clan) and promptly jumps into the hunt to save the SouthKing’s daughter (both human) while fighting against the evil of the Betrayer, aka Vayne (human – King of Feinden), his son Cyre, along with the bandit dragons and the EastGate guardian, Tymbos (dragon) and his Keeper, Tumulus (half-human dragon).

There are too many characters to mention them all, but those above are the lead actors in this marvelous tale of a parallel universe that’s a mixture of indescribable geography and scenes, creatures and dragons. I can’t begin to adequately describe, nor thank you for, the meticulous attention to detail that you incorporated into this story. The entire concept of dragon clans—their differences in colors, sizes, characteristics and talents is mind boggling!

Unlike the climax of many books that are part of a series, you designed an ending that is fully satisfying, in and of itself, while clearly leaving an opening for the sequel; a book I am eager to get my hands on. In short, I want you to know that I believe that “Echoing Sacrifice: Traveler” belongs on the bookshelf right between the classic high fantasy of “Lord of the Rings” and the science fantasy/creature horror series that is “The Dark Tower”.

In closing, thanks again and please get the sequel out there quickly!

Sincerely – Lex Allen

Author:
No Heaven
No Hell
Reviewer – Readers’ Favorite

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Review: Firedrake (Dragonrealm #1) ~ Richard A. Knaak

FiredrakeIn Firedrake, a land ruled by the shape-lifting Dragon Kings, Cabe Bedlam is hunted for both the legacy he represents and the future he may bring. Yet, dragons may be the least of the dangers, for in a land drenched with sorcery, Cabe’s very legacy may be what destroys him!

 

 

4 Thumbs-UpThis was the debut novel from an Author who has now evolved into, what some may call a wizard in the arena of creating fantastical worlds and their inhabitants.  He is well-known amongst the World of Warcraft community for his penmanship of some of their lore novels and, it was through this medium, that I became aware of him.  I decided to read this as I was intrigued to see how his love for writing fantasy not only began, but how it had progressed over time.

The main protagonist in this book is a young man who is full of the arrogance of his youth, but there is also an underlying current of uncertainty in things he does that make him instantly likeable to the reader.  He is of an age where he is easily smitten by a pretty face, and it made me smile to see how quickly this happened to him as it seems that the Author had perfectly captured this part of all our lives; the growing up and discovering the opposite sex.  Although I felt that more time could have been given to the development of this character, there were so many others in this book, both ‘human’ and ‘non-human’, that to spend an overly long time developing one would have resulted in others being under-developed and this would have resulted in the book being lacking in many ways.  As the title suggests there are dragons in this novel, and they also were given subject to some very interesting development, but some of them lacked the explanation of their motivation behind the things they wanted to do.  I’m uncertain as to whether this is explained more in the subsequent books, but in this particular instalment it would have been nice to see a little more back story to them given.

The storyline itself is very well written and is able to throw a few surprising plot twists and turns at a reader who may think they know what is coming next.  Showing the skill that would later make him a great loremaster, this Author weaves dragon lore into his story with ease, and adds his own twist on the lore which results in it being expanded even more.  However, if you are looking for a fantasy novel that is full of brilliant prose you may be disappointed with this book; at times the language became rather dull but this in no way detracted from the overall enjoyment that reading this book would bring.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this Authors later works, but they need to remember when reading it that is was his first book and try to lay aside any comparisons they may want to make.  If you have know someone who is interested in fantastical world or plays Dungeons & Dragons, but they don’t read this book would be a great way to introduce them to the world of reading.  I will definitely be reading the remaining Dragonrealm books.

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Review: The Dragon Inside ~ J.A. Edwards

DragonsOn the planet of Naronna, Brie was a simple bakery owner who kept to herself. No one suspected her to be a runaway from a powerful royal family from Malta. Her life was about to change when that dragon inside of her no longer was content to remain dormant.

Brie’s real name is Brieanika, and she holds several royal titles on two separate planets. Since she ran away she managed to live her life the way she liked for over a thousand years, but it had all come to an end. Royal guards were sent to retrieve her so she could learn how to control the dragon and to become one with it. Though she dreaded returning to the life that she didn’t know, she had no choice but to join her people and fulfill her destiny.

In this exciting fantasy tale, accompanied by Trace, her Sentinel, and a few friends, Brie rediscovers her heritage, stumbles through her new life within the royal court, and learns what it really means to be a dragon. While doing all of that, she must continue to do everything in her power to thwart the plans of the person intent on ending her life.

4 Thumbs-UpThis book is definitely a hidden gem, and many may be fooled by the cover that could indicate this is a children’s book; this is a book that all ages can read and enjoy either alone or together.

The main protagonist is fun, intelligent, strong and assertive, and this combination together could have quite easily led to a somewhat overbearing female lead; this was not the case in this book.  Using the voice of their main character, the Author manages to propel a story about acceptance of not only ourselves but of others in such a way that it is easy to forget that this is fantasy novel; this character is so likeable that it would be difficult for any reader not to connect with her and find something in her that they could easily like and want to emulate.

In a way that I’ve not seen in a book in long time, the Author manages to have a storyline that doesn’t lack in momentum, and everything that happens with in this novel’s pages pertains to the main plot.  There is no overuse of long descriptive scenes being used a fillers, everything read has a purpose in helping the reader come to the end of the book.  This is a tough book to put down and is wonderful way to spend a cold rainy day wrapped up in its adventures.

I would highly recommend this book to lovers of the fantasy genre, and will be reading the next instalment in this sequel.

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Review: Warrior Crone ~ Jennifer Christopherson

Warrior Crone

Generations of Tirawan kings have laid the groundwork for King Johahn. The peasants fear the Gohmdae people and everything connected to them. Their children play games of hunting them and burning them at the stake. His plan to wipe the Ghomdae out and take over their lands will be unquestioned.

The Ghomdae, wishing only for peace and to live life their own way, have kept their distance for generations. However, when reports of soldiers in the forest and on the Taarook plains start pouring in, they must send their own into the very heart of the danger to act as spies. After many years and many deaths, they find out what is going on.

To-Shora, second household to Crone Jeh-Gah, is one of these spies. During her mission, she is raped and has a child for each rape. Tar-Reesh, the eldest of these children, befriends the magistrate’s daughter, Winaiva, and grows up playing games of hunting and burning Gohmdae.

Tar-Reesh, ever seeking acceptance, and Winaiva, ever searching for freedom, are taught the truth and are forced to choose their part in the conflict. But will they be able to live with their choice? Will they win the war to keep the Ghomdae free? What are the roles of the dragons and elves? What, exactly, does Fate have in store for these two girls, these two peoples, this peninsula?

2 Thumbs-Up

This is a debut work for this Author, and my spidey sense started twitching as soon as I read the summary of the book; not is a good way.

This was a very strange book that had me feeling it was the second instalment in a series.  I even put it to one side to search and see if I had missed the beginning of this tale; but no, this is where it starts. Despite this, I thought it may be one of those rare books in a series, that is perfectly happy standing all alone and making its mark as a solo act as well as part of a series; again that was not to be the case.  The Author had a great vision when writing this book, but for some reason it really didn’t translate well on to the page.

The characters, all of them throughout the book, seemed very underdeveloped to me and all spoke in the same formal manner, which made them very hard to separate from one another.  They had no back-story to speak of, which again made it hard to relate to them in any way.  Hence the feeling I had whilst reading this, of walking in halfway through a conversation and expecting to be able to successfully debate it.  The protagonist was immediately on my ‘I really hope something despicable happens to you’ list, as they are arrogant, rigid and refuse to accept anyone else but they could possibly be right.  The fact that this character provoked a response from me meant it was given at least a passing thought as to its development by the Author, as it managed to push all the right buttons when evoking that feeling of wanting to reach out and shake them.  It is such a shame I felt I had missed out on their life story and why they were like this, I like characters to exhibit a few believable flaws instead of them expecting me to believe they could walk on water.

There were some wonderfully descriptive aspects to this book which, if they had been explored in more depth could really have gone a long way to helping the plot along.  As it was they were dealt with in a rather perfunctory manner, as if they were of no import.  The few snippets we had of this complex fantastical world were the kind that starts an image forming in the readers’ brain, but as it was coming into focus it was snatched away.  This was the tone of the whole book for me; it was random and disjointed with bizarre little flashbacks happening that I had no clue as to where they came from, or what their purpose was.

This was a good fantasy read; that with a bit more tweaking and direction could become a great fantasy read. I would recommend it to lovers of this genre, but advise they go into not expecting an epic.  If the Author decides to write a prequel to this, that started at the very beginning, and gave back-story to all the happenings in this novel, I would definitely read it before trying this book again as I feel it would give a lot more sense and meaning to the book I have just reviewed.

 

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