March 29, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST
We gave it an A

This book is for anyone who’s read one of Patrick O’Brian’s 19th-century-set naval adventures and mused: You know what would make this better? Dragons. Will Laurence, captain of the HMS Reliant during the Napoleonic Wars, defeats a French ship on the open sea and takes possession of its treasure: a dragon egg. This seemingly small event sends Laurence’s life into turmoil: a resignation of his command, induction into Britain’s Aerial Corps, and an unbreakable bond with Temeraire, the mysterious, intelligent beast that has chosen Laurence as his captain. What could’ve easily been a D&D-inspired mess is, in Naomi Novik’s hands, a completely authentic tale, brimming with all the detail and richness one looks for in military yarns as well as the impossible wonder of gilded fantasy.

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