Book: Temeraire - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Book: Temeraire
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 11:55 pm
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Author: Naomi Novik (naominovik)

Details: (c) Naomi Novik 2006; Pub Harper Voyager 2006; ISBN 0-00-721911-3

Verdict: Temeraire is lovely!

Reasons for reading it: I've been reading interesting discussions about it on LJ, and wanted to join in. buymeaclue, was it you who proposed a theory about an allegory between the relationship of men to dragons in the Temeraire books, and the relationship of men to women in the real world?

How it came into my hands: cartesiandaemon very kindly brought it to Holland to lend to me. It was just the thing to occupy the really boring journey back to Sweden.

Temeraire is sheer beautiful fun. I could try to say something intelligent about it, but I was just so caught up in the story that I don't have much analysis. I love the way it handles jeopardy, both on the personal level of Laurence's life and career, and on the national level of fighting the French. And the relationship between Laurence and Temeraire is just gorgeous. It's magical bonding with a dragon but without any of the creepiness or soppiness of Pern. Reading this was one of the best experiences of pleasantly vicarious emotion I've ever had from storytelling. I was moved by the sad bits, and excited by the dramatic bits (Novik has the very rare talent of being able to make battle scenes exciting and enjoyable!), and the lovey-dovey bits made me go "aww!", and just generally yay.

*bounce* I can quite see why this is the one of the few books other than Harry Potter with an actual fandom. The world building is fairly lightly sketched alternate history, but the combination of the obviously romantic Napoleonic period with DRAGONS makes it quite irresistable to play in. In some ways it feels like a YA book, in the most positive sense that the story is paramount, and it's full of imagination rather than any attempt at sophistication.

The dragons are rather lovely; you get a strong sense of their physicality, and the pseudoscience about dragon biology is kept to an appropriate minimum. There were a couple of things that annoyed me, primarily the way the dragons are fully mature, except in size, from the moment they hatch. I suppose it's a fairly standard fairytale trope to have magical creatures born able to speak at an adult level, but it jarred me somehow in a world which has no real sense of numinous to support that kind of magic.

While I'm quibbling, it's perhaps a bit too obvious the way that all the high-class people turn out to be cads while the women and lower-class characters turn out to be surprisingly noble. It's generally annoying to insert 21st century values that blatantly; it comes across as preachy, and spoils the effect of having a viewpoint character who is likeable in spite of his very unprogressive values.

But yay, reading that has just made me grin excessively.


Whereaboooots: Dover
Moooood: pleasedpleased
Tuuuuune: Tindersticks: El diablo en el ojo
Discussion: 15 contributions | Contribute something
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From:kassrachel
Date:May 27th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
14 minutes after journal entry
(Link)
Book 1 and book 4 are my favorites of the series thus far. Books 2 and 3 are also quite good. I'm a huge Novik fan, honestly.
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:May 28th, 2008 09:22 am (UTC)
11 hours after journal entry
(Link)
I really must read 4 (I was waiting for it to be published/published in paperback). I enjoyed #2 and #3, but Novik still seemed to be getting warmed up, so I was very curious how #4 turned out.
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naath: default
From:naath
Date:May 28th, 2008 10:11 am (UTC)
12 hours after journal entry, 11:11 am (naath's time)
(Link)
I can lend you 4 (I have the hardback).
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:May 28th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
23 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Hm, my comment notifications seem to be hiding.

Ooh, thank you very mcuh! Not just yet, I have a literal pile of books from Rachel. But I may do so, thank you.
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green_knight: Tatsu
From:green_knight
Date:May 27th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, May 28th, 2008 12:34 am (green_knight's time)
(Link)
Synchronicity: I read book one last week and book two a couple of days ago. Still waiting for mmpb editions of the other two.

I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Not necessarily what I'd call a brilliant book, but keep-you-up-into-the-night, definitely.

And reading it rattled loose one of my own, which is always good.
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catwithclaws: default
From:catwithclaws
Date:May 28th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, May 27th, 2008 11:52 pm (catwithclaws's time)
(Link)
this too was a book I expect to like, but not enjoy as thoroughly as I did. I'm not sure when she 'hit' the 'scene', so to speak, but I saw her books in a Washington DC book store on one of my business trips in 2006 and picked up the first one -- followed quickly by #2 and #3 :) I'm intrigued to see what she does with the latest this summer, but as that's hardback, I shall have to haunt my library until the paperback version comes out.

:)


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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:May 28th, 2008 09:21 am (UTC)
11 hours after journal entry
(Link)
*hugs* I'm really glad you liked it!

I was a little surprised you were so positive actually. I was completely and utterly sold on the book at "Hornblower with dragons". (I love any book "Like X, but with dragons", even if they don't all turn out as good as you'd hope.) And you exactly capture what was so good about it.

It was certainly a can't-put-down. However, I thought it was really nice, but a bit forgettable or something; I can't quite describe it, but, I expected that to bother you more than me, rather than less. Partly that I didn't feel it had had much story by the end, and partly that a lot of the sub-plots were a bit pat, as if Novik had decided "Lawrence will be moved by someone else's dragon's plight and help him", and written it happening, but not really justified it in-world.

(I was surprised to hear it was popular for fanfic. It would be, as it's a popular book, but I thought the wonderful things were the world-building, and Lawrence and Temeraire, and thought fanfiction was at its strongest when there were lots of minor characters and plots crying out for attention.)

On the other hand, there was a lot of stuff that I did think was very well conceived, like she _did_ tackle the question of how dragons and men live together and is it fair, and that there were always pros and cons (unlike Pern, where it's generally just "yay!" :)).

When I looked up what I wrote at the time, it was a bit negative: I think I felt a bit defensive for liking the book, so dwelled on (legitimate) quibbles, and came back to the great bits only later.
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:May 28th, 2008 09:23 am (UTC)
11 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Hm, I really need a dragon icon :)
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From:ext_72852
Date:May 28th, 2008 10:50 am (UTC)
12 hours after journal entry
(Link)
like a dinosaur, but with wings and fire?
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:May 28th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
23 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Hm. Yeeeees.

But also like: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n1/n5610.jpg :)
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livredor: hands
From:livredor
Date:June 2nd, 2008 05:57 am (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 06:57 am (livredor's time)

i maded u a dragon!

(Link)
hatam_soferet made these lovely faux-Mediaeval Hebrew alphabet postcards, and they have really good dragons in them. I asked her if you could have one of them for an icon, so if you like:
dragon icon

If that one's too pink you could have:
another dragon icon
but I think the pink one is cooler, myself.
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:June 2nd, 2008 09:19 am (UTC)
5 days after journal entry

Re: i maded u a dragon!

(Link)
Squeeee! *hugs*
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hatam_soferet: default
From:hatam_soferet
Date:June 2nd, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
5 days after journal entry

Re: i maded u a dragon!

(Link)
but I eated it Enjoy!
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buymeaclue: default
From:buymeaclue
Date:June 1st, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 06:04 pm (buymeaclue's time)
(Link)
Not my theory, but I discussed it somewhere in my journal. Looks like it was cija, here: http://community.livejournal.com/whileaway/113925.html?thread=672773#t672773

And then it gets discussed a bit in my own space: http://buymeaclue.livejournal.com/374324.html
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livredor: livre d'or
From:livredor
Date:June 2nd, 2008 06:03 am (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 07:03 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
Squee! Thanks so much for digging up that link. I'm usually fairly good at remembering where I found exciting gems of information, but you know, the internet is a big place and Google doesn't play nice with LJ. That's a really wonderful reading; I spent years hating literary criticism in any shape, but LJ is teaching me how to read (at least SF) better than any school course I ever experienced.
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