kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
I finally put up the spoiler post about the conclusion to the series, League of Dragons, today. (Here's the entirely-spoiler-free review if that's what you're after.)

And I'm also doing daily Toast Retrospectives, looking back at what the Toast published three years ago each day, over at the ToastCrumbs subreddit.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Really I shouldn't post a discussion question when I'm ferociously busy (like the last post, languishing for attention), but [livejournal.com profile] yhlee's post from partway into Throne of Jade prompted this thought (which is spoilery for the end of Throne) and it'll be stuck in my head all day if I don't post it:

The relationship betwen Laurence and Temeraire has been noted by many reviewers; it's primarily been the romance reviewers, that I've seen, who've pointed out that it functions the way a romance would in a romance novel. (I hasten to note, for those unfamiliar with the books, that the relationship is strictly platonic. In case people were getting their much-talked-about (for various reasons) books-with-dragons mixed up. Ahem.)

SPOILERS for the end of Throne of Jade )

So, discuss: ways in which the first two Temeraire books play out typical romance situations through human-dragon partnerships (not limited to Laurence and Temeraire). Are these transferred situations thereby commented on or transformed in any way? Laurence's experiences in the first book (particularly) have an effect on his own perceptions about gender; are there any less obvious ways the dragon-human relationships are commenting on gender? (Or are people worn out on Tiptree-ish discussions?)

There will, of course, be spoilers for both books in comments as well as above.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Small world-building question about the opening of Throne of Jade.

spoilers for the first two chapters of Throne of Jade )


Apr. 20th, 2006 10:52 pm
kate_nepveu: raven flying across white background (fantasy)

A chain of associations in the car tonight got me from CVS, to Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, to Steven Brust, to Vlad and Loiosh, to the following mental picture which I feel I must share with you all:

(tilting his head to one side)
May I eat him, Laurence?

(I think Temeraire is more likely to say "May I" than "Can I," don't you?)

Shortly after that, in a very musical-range kind of way, Richard Thompson's "Beeswing" (a sad sweet slow folk song) was followed by Puddle of Mudd's "She Hates Me" (an angry hard rock song; the key line is actually "She fucking hates me," but I guess they didn't feel they could have a title that itself needed bleeping). (Though I suppose they are both about the woman who left.)

On the drive in, the unrated playlist tossed up a song from an album called "There Will Be Blood Tonight," and I walked around with Inigo Montoya's voice in my head for most of the morning.

I was thinking of suggesting a Readercon panel on the Napoleonic Wars, but realized that two data points don't constitute a trend. Besides Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and His Majesty's Dragon, are there other recent speculative fiction novels dealing with the Napoleonic Wars (as opposed to the Regency)?

Finally for tonight (having failed to debug elusive MySQL errors, again), where were you on the night of Thursday, March 30, between approximately 7:45 and 8:15 p.m.? Can you prove it? And what did you do with the sandwich?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

This post contains SPOILERS for His Majesty's Dragon. Here's the non-spoiler post if you got here by mistake.

spoilers for His Majesty's Dragon )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

(My booklog is down and I'm just waiting for it to come back up long enough to get the most recent database dump and move to a new host. In the meantime, I'm going to post entries here; they'll eventually be reposted at the booklog.)

Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon is being talked of as "Patrick O'Brian with dragons," which may, combined with the first chapter, give a slightly inaccurate impression. It's not a naval story, but is instead somewhere between "if Patrick O'Brian were writing about dragons instead of ships" and "if Stephen Maturin were a dragon." It's set in an alternate history where dragons have been domesticated from early days, and "now," in the Napoleonic Wars, are used as an air force: everything from scouts to bombers, with crews of an appropriate size. The dragons are sentient, articulate partners; and Temeraire, the dragon partnered with our human point-of-view character Will Laurence, holds anti-authoritarian political views rather like Maturin's, which sit uneasily with their military service. In short, this isn't about ships, but has a great many of the virtues of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels all the same. (Indeed the overall feel is fairly concrete and low-key; there may be some magic necessary to the dragons' functions (hand-waving about airsacs aside), but if so, that's about the only place for magic that I can see.)

It has virtues of its own, too, the most obvious of which is the dragons. They are a bit like Anne McCaffrey's in that they bond with one person upon hatching; but they communicate orally not telepathically, can outlive their first handler, and are generally smarter and have more personality. The largest can also carry quite sizable crews, including riflemen and bombers; and generally speaking the Royal Aerial Corps doesn't feel far off from the Royal Navy in its professional aspects.

It is different in some of its social and personal aspects [*], which serves two purposes: it makes the company more palatable to present-day tastes, and it pushes Laurence even further out of his entrenched habits of thought and helps him grow. Laurence's development individually and as a partner to Temeraire is one of the book's strands; the other is their training and first engagements in the Corps.

[*] I have a minor quibble about one of these aspects, but I'm not sure whether something that comes on page 145 should be counted a spoiler or not. I'll put it in a separate post just to be safe.

I enjoyed this very much, finding it a solid, thoughtful, entertaining and absorbing creation. I'm looking forward to the next two, which will be released at the end of this month and the end of next; I believe, judging from advance reviews, that they are largely set out of England as relatively stand-alone stories. I do hope that we'll get some exploration of the alternate part of the alternate history; things start diverging in this book, and I'm quite curious how important those divergences will be. On the whole, unless you're absolutely allergic to both the nineteenth century and dragons, I'd say to check this out.

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