Tag: Naomi Novik

Review – Temeraire, His Majesty’s Dragon

Posted 19 March, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of Temeraire by Naomi NovikTemeraire, or His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik

I’ve read this before, quite a ways back, and always intended to visit it anew, and finish the series as well. Imyril’s reviews of the series (for example, this first one) had a big part in making someday now, and I’ve got to be grateful for that. Temeraire is a lot of fun, just as I remembered it to be. It’s the Napoleonic War… but with dragons! And with a whole alternate history around the dragon corps and their officers, along with an alternative culture. It works very well, and produces a rather epic adventure… which nonetheless has plenty of tender moments, as Laurence comes to understand and cherish the dragon who has changed his entire life.

Temeraire himself is just the best character: he likes to read, he’s very curious, he’s polite and protective and worries about all things Laurence — which results in rather funny scenes in which Laurence discovers his dragon has learnt about prostitutes, or things like that. The insatiable curiosity is both funny and, at times, touching.

And come on, if Temeraire weren’t a dragon, everyone would be calling his relationship with Laurence what it is: a bromance.

The reason this really works for me is that it doesn’t just add in dragons, and expect everything else to be more or less the same. Instead, the dragons have an effect on society and Novik worked out exactly where they, and their riders, would stand. And the other thing is, people don’t always get what they deserve, despite the temptation: there’s a horribly touching emotional arc involving one mistreated dragon, and it does not end the way you hope it will. Which makes it all feel more real, and like bad things can genuinely happen — a wise thing for a writer to establish when otherwise things might look just a bit too easy.

I’m looking forward to continuing the series, though I do recall I didn’t love the later books as much, however far I got with reading them.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Uprooted

Posted 31 August, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 6 Comments

Cover of Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted, Naomi Novik

I notice other people comparing this book to The Goblin Emperor in reviews, because there is a distinctly hopeful tone to it. I think that’s probably why I enjoyed it and made that parallel myself: this isn’t grimdark, even though it could be. It’s a Polish-ish medieval setting, with feudalism and magic and armies, and with a great big encroaching wood which is second cousin to Tolkien’s Old Forest, but bigger and badder. And yet it turns out to be not so clear-cut, and there’s room at the end for growth and hope, rather than just destruction and violence. A chance for two worlds to meet.

It may not feel that way in some parts of the book, though: there is plenty of horrible moments, where corruption reaches out to touch everything and the only answer seems to be violence. People don’t get off lightly: there is death, there is a price paid. In that respect, it doesn’t feel quite as hopeful as The Goblin Emperor, which largely avoids outright violence.

Uprooted has a somewhat slow pace, at least at first; the narrator takes her time introducing us to the world, even with that corker of a first sentence: “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.” Every detail means something, but it takes time to come together, and in the meantime the writing is what pulled me on — not just the build-up of the magic system, the building up of the characters, the mysteries revealed bit by bit, but also the quality of the prose. It felt solid, structured, knowing — I felt like I could trust the narration to get me where I needed to go, so I didn’t mind about the pace — another book I’m reminded of is Juliet Marillier’s Heart’s Blood, which makes sense given that both books grew out of fairytales to some degree or another, without being slavishly attached.

I also love that one of the big drivers of this book is Agnieszka’s concern and love for her friend, her home, the people around her. No grim swearing of vengeance here; in fact, that blind impulse to avenge, to push back when pushed, is explicitly criticised, while Agnieszka’s slower understanding proves the important part.

I enjoyed it a lot, and it stands alone beautifully, with an ending that has just enough room to breathe. It’s not quite The Goblin Emperor for me (the narration did feel like it slowed down a bit too much here and there), but it’s good.

Rating: 4/5

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 2 December, 2014 by in General / 6 Comments

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is “top ten books you’re looking forward to in 2015”. Now, I actually don’t keep a very good track of this, so I might not manage the full ten, but we’ll see how I do…

  1. Jo Walton, The Just CityYeah, I know I have an eARC and I’ve borrowed someone else’s ARC, but I’m still looking forward to it being out and getting to discuss it more widely.
  2. Maria V. Snyder, Shadow StudyMore Yelena! I still need to do my reread, but these are totally my popcorn books and it’ll be nice to have more to look forward to. I might actually manage to read the Avry trilogy when I know there’s more awaiting me…
  3. V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of MagicI don’t know that much about it, but it sounds awesome, and I keep being recommended Schwab’s work.
  4. Joe Abercrombie, Half a World. I still need to get round to reading Half a King, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy it, and this is another in the same world.
  5. Catherynne M. Valente, RadianceFrom reading the summary, I’m not quite sure about it, but I adore Valente’s way with words, so it’s going to be worth a try.
  6. Naomi Novik, UprootedI remember enjoying the Temeraire books, and I love reading retellings of myths/legends/folktales/fables, so this sounds right up my street.
  7. N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season. Gimme! Gimme!
  8. Marie Brennan, The Voyage of the Basilisk. I need to read the second book, but still. Still. Badass Victorian lady!
  9. Nicole Burstein, Othergirl. Just spotted this on someone else’s list of upcoming 2015 books. Sounds like fun, and there’s superpowers, sooo. I’m a sucker, I know.
  10. Brandon Sanderson, Firefight. Another one where I still need to read the previous book, but shush. Superpowers!

Oof, I managed it. What’s anyone else looking forward to?

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