Will Laurence has a successful career as a Captain with His Majesty's Navy. While captaining the HMS Reliant, he engages a French ship in battle and defeats her soundly only to find an unexpected surprise in the cargo hold-an unhatched dragon egg. The crew of the Reliant seizes the dragon egg from the French ship but soon realize that it will hatch well before they make landfall. There is only one way to keep a dragon from becoming feral once it is born-get it to accept a harness which in turn binds the person who does the harnessing to life as the dragon's aviator. When the egg finally hatches the dragon will accept the harness from no one but Will. He names the dragon Temeraire and when they finally reach the shores of England both are sent for training-Temeraire as an aerial heavy combat dragon and Will as his aviator.
Will grudgingly accepts his new life with Temeraire but soon develops genuine affection for the dragon. It is soon discovered that Temeraire is not just an ordinary dragon-he is a Chinese dragon, one of the rarest in the world. Together they learn to adapt to their new life and develop and unbreakable bond and not a moment to soon as Napoleon Bonaparte's Navy and his dragons threaten to invade England at any time.
This book surprised me a bit. The dragon thing has been done many times over but adding dragons into the Napoleonic era made things rather interesting. I loved watching the relationship between Will and Temeraire evolve and I enjoyed how human like the dragons were with their ability to speak and to learn at such a rapid rate. The melding of this point in history and the aerial combat with the dragons was done very well-largely because the battle scenes were written exactly how you would imagine them happening during this era and the whole process of dragons flying in combat was quite involved. During the part of the book concerning the training Will and Temeraire had to go through to become battle ready, the story tended to focus more on the drills Temeraire was put through and didn't really make a lot of mention about Will learning to be an aviator. I thought there would be more having to do with this since in the beginning it was repeatedly mentioned that it was very rigorous and the Corp didn't know if Will could handle it because he was much older than most are when they start training to be an aviator.
This is the first book in what is now six books in the series. I am very glad to have discovered this series and have the next two books on their way to me from PBS. One thing I wish is that the publishers had stuck with the UK covers for the US release because I much prefer them over the US covers.
This book is from my own personal library