The setting is the Napoleonic wars, in a world where dragons exist and are part of military operations. An English naval captain captures a French vessel, and on board is a particularly valuable treasure: a dragon’s egg, and joins the Aerial Corps with Temeraire, a very rare Celestial breed, and together they join the fight.
I loved this idea the minute I read about it in one of Entertainment Weekly’s capsule reviews. The book reads more like an adventure tale than a fantasy–lots of military proceedings and maneuvers and protocol. I’ve never read the Horatio Hornblower books or anything by Patrick O’Brien, but I imagine that this book is cut from the same sailcloth as those.
What I really loved in this book was Laurence, the naval captain who has to switch careers midstream after the dragon chooses him at hatching instead of the man they expected to bond with the dragon. Laurence is stuffily British, fond of order and hierarchy. But with Temeraire, his dragon, he is tender and kind in a paternal way that makes him seem even more virile. The dragon is a great character as well, and really comes to life. The two of them together are magical.
I know I said in another post that I don’t cry at books much, but one thing always gets me–genuine heroism. This book had several of those moments, and I’m not ashamed to say that I got misty on a few occasions.