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His Majesty's Dragon and the Dragons of Pern
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Wildflower



Joined: 03 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:17 pm    Post subject: His Majesty's Dragon and the Dragons of Pern Reply with quote

"His Majesty's Dragon" is a book that's been mentioned in the Writers' Forum among the books members have recently read.

I bought the book because the mix of fighting dragons and Napoleonic Wars was irresistible to me. I'm only about 50 pages in, but I can see already it's going to be a disappointment.

Here, the dragons are not "Impressed" as on Pern, they're "harnessed" - i.e., their rider is the one whom they let put a harness on them after they hatch. Which is OK as far as it goes. But instead of speaking telepathically to their riders and to other dragons, they actually speak to everybody, in perfect English. I suppose that if their rider is French, they speak perfect French. It kind of stretches belief. I know, intelligent dragons who communicate with their riders is already a wonder, but this linguistic thing is a bit much. I'll have to see later, when they go to battle against the French Draconic Air Force (of course, here the hero is English) what language they all speak.

Worse, though, Naomi Novik, the writer, didn't check her dragon lore. Téméraire, the dragon hero of the story, is supposed to be a Chinese Imperial. And he has wings!!! Naomi didn't bother to even look at depictions of Asian dragons. Asian dragons DO. NOT. HAVE. WINGS.

Between having wings and speaking English, this Chinese dragon has me rolling my eyes.

OK, so 50 pages don't really give me a broad enough base to base a real review on, but I wanted to post my first impressions. More to come later, if I stick with it. Rong
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Muggle_Magic



Joined: 04 Aug 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:12 pm    Post subject: Re: His Majesty's Dragon Reply with quote

Wildflower wrote:
Worse, though, Naomi Novik, the writer, didn't check her dragon lore. Téméraire, the dragon hero of the story, is supposed to be a Chinese Imperial. And he has wings!!! Naomi didn't bother to even look at depictions of Asian dragons. Asian dragons DO. NOT. HAVE. WINGS.

Your Maily Rong has wings, doesn't she? bleh
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:19 pm    Post subject: Re: His Majesty's Dragon Reply with quote

Muggle_Magic wrote:
Your Maily Rong has wings, doesn't she? bleh

Maybe one of her parents was a Western dragon. wink

Take it up with the smilie-maker on Vietscape, he made that one for me, bless his heart. Very Happy
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Laurelluin



Joined: 04 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:42 pm    Post subject: Re: His Majesty's Dragon Reply with quote

Wildflower wrote:
This is a book that's been mentioned in the Writers' Forum among the books members have recently read.

I bought the book because the mix of fighting dragons and Napoleonic Wars was irresistible to me. I'm only about 50 pages in, but I can see already it's going to be a disappointment.

Here, the dragons are not "Impressed" as on Pern, they're "harnessed" - i.e., their rider is the one whom they let put a harness on them after they hatch.Rong


Checked it out from the library, and am reading it now. Wink

Thanks for the spoiler on what breed Temeraire is. shifty

Wink
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:18 pm    Post subject: Re: His Majesty's Dragon Reply with quote

Laurelluin wrote:
Checked it out from the library, and am reading it now. Wink

Cool! How do you like it so far? I'm about half-way through now. It improves a bit, but I'm still not hooked. I bought the two following tomes (Throne of Jade and Black Powder War) at the same time (to qualify for free shipping from Amazon) - I expect that Temeraire and Laurence's travel to China will give rise to more grumbling on my part, LOL.

Quote:
Thanks for the spoiler on what breed Temeraire is. shifty

Wink

Pffft! Something that's revealed less than 50 pages in hardly qualifies for a spoiler! bleh

I know you were kidding. wink

Did you see the pictures of different dragon breeds at the end of the book? New additions to your weyr!!! ten
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Laurelluin



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:21 pm    Post subject: Re: His Majesty's Dragon Reply with quote

Wildflower wrote:

Pffft! Something that's revealed less than 50 pages in hardly qualifies for a spoiler! bleh

I know you were kidding. wink


It does when I was only on page 37 before reading your post! :-P

Quote:
Did you see the pictures of different dragon breeds at the end of the book? New additions to your weyr!!! ten


It's just a dime-store style paperback, so I don't think it has pictures. I'll look, though, to see, when I get home.

:-)
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:13 pm    Post subject: Dragon breeds Reply with quote

Laurelluin wrote:
Quote:
Did you see the pictures of different dragon breeds at the end of the book? New additions to your weyr!!! ten


It's just a dime-store style paperback, so I don't think it has pictures. I'll look, though, to see, when I get home.

:-)

My copy is a paperback too. It does have 2 pages of drawings by Sir Something or other, the English dragon expert. There are also excerpts from his notes on the different breeds, European and Asian or, as he calls them, "Oriental".

I must confess I'm skipping the notes. But I'm sure you'll peruse them carefully for your own breeding program. Very Happy

I'm going on reading the book, and will probably read the other two I bought also, though I don't find either Temeraire or Laurence very likeable. In fact I find them both rather annoying. Give me Lessa and Ramoth, F'lar and Mnementh any day! In fact my favourite Pern dragonrider from the early books is F'nor.

Quote:
But instead of speaking telepathically to their riders and to other dragons, they actually speak to everybody, in perfect English. I suppose that if their rider is French, they speak perfect French.

OK now I have the answer to the question of the languages the dragons speak and how they acquire them. I'll let you find out for yourself, lest I be accused of posting spoilers again. shameless grin
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Laurelluin



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:26 pm    Post subject: His Majesty's Dragon Reply with quote

I didn't see any pictures in the copy I have but I'll look again. Why don't you like Laurence or Temeraire? Too stuffy and British? Wink
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:00 pm    Post subject: His Majesty's Dragon Reply with quote

In my paperback copy, the pictures, "from the sketchbook of Sir Edward Howe", are on pages 344 and 345, between the end of the story and the "Selected extracts from Observations on the Order Draconia in Europe, with Notes on the Oriental Breeds", by the same Sir Edward Howe. I doubt that there are several different paperback editions of the book, so you should have them too.

Quote:
Why don't you like Laurence or Temeraire? Too stuffy and British? Wink

I don't like Laurence because I find him an unsufferable self-righteous sexist prig. His reactions, for example, at learning that there are actually female dragonriders and officers (addressing one as "Miss" instead of "Captain"), and his shock at one of the cadet's parentage. He's also a social snob, making much of the fact that his father is a lord. I also hate it when he addresses his officers as "Gentlemen" while knowing bloody well a number of them are women. Also when his cadets asked for "liberty", he gives leave to the boys, but not the girl because he assumes she'll go to town and do bad and/or dangerous things (she just wanted to see her mother). There's this hilarious scene when one of the female captains asks him for a favour, and he immediately assumes she wants to have sex with him.

Temeraire, like all the other dragons except for poor little Levitas, is basically a spoilt brat. He and Laurence are both what we call "têtes à claques", so full of themselves one wants to slap their faces (or snout in Temeraire's case).

Plus, I don't like Naomi Novik's style of writing. She knows a bit of French, but not enough to make the French dialogues and names realistic. Capitaine Choiseul, for example, being a royalist and, obviously, an aristocrat, should be Capitaine de Choiseul. I don't like her style in English either. Not British enough, actually, for a story set in England in the 1800's. They should speak the King's English, not American English. I also find her syntax awkward.

Of course that has nothing to do with the quality of the story, it's just the linguist in me... Though, as I said before, I'm not enthused by the story either.
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:25 pm    Post subject: No sense of humour!! Reply with quote

I just read the anecdote where Catherine Harcourt is telling how, at 16, she went to a concert (In the late 1790's, early 1800's, a young woman of good family went to attend a concert on her own, by her lonesome? Give me a break! But that's not what's really bothering me about this anecdote) and some guy tried to pick her up (as if she were going to the movies, by herself, in the 20th or 21st century in the US or Europe...) and how she dealt with it.

Personally, putting aside the improbability of the situation, I thought it hilarious. But all Laurence feels is "dismay at the insult given her and the way she dealt with it."

Now, you see why I say he's a sexist prig? And he doesn't even have a sense of humour. Pale sigh

Ah well. I'm 40 pages until the end of this book. I'll read "Throne of Jade" with no great expectations, except that I'll find plenty to bitch about on things "Oriental" and Chinese. If Naomi Novik doesn't know about Asian dragons not having wings, I doubt she knows anything at all but the stereotypes she's been reading about China and Chinese society and culture, in any era, let alone the late 18th, early 19th century. Rolling Eyes
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:25 pm    Post subject: Throne of Jade Reply with quote

OK, so I said what little I thought about "His Majesty's Dragon" and stand by it. I did finish it, though, and found Naomi Novic made kind of short work of the final battle. But that's OK, at least she didn't make the French look too bad. Actually she made them look brave, though I don't think they would have retreated the way they did, but I understand she had to have the Brits win the battle. This is not a spoiler as any reader would know, the hero being English, the day had to go to the Brits. super grin

Oh, Laure, btw, we do find out that Temeraire is NOT a Chinese Imperial dragon after all. He's something slightly different, I'll let you find out when you get to it, if you haven't already.

So, all in all, it was with a bit of doubt that I started "Throne of Jade" and you know what, I was very pleasantly surprised. I got hooked and read 150 pages in one and a half days. The storyline is much better and, to my surprise, Ms. Novik at least knows how Chinese names are composed (last name first), so the Chinese names she has for Temeraire and his father are semantically correct. She even knows that "Lung" (it's spelled "Long" in Vietnamese) means "dragon". Wonders never cease.

Her writing style has improved a bit too, though it still reads like an American trying to write British English, but slipping up from time to time with spelling ("honor" or "honour") and grammar ("we should..." or "we would..."), etc. She got some British editors this time, but they didn't catch all the americanisms or anachronisms.

To be continued...
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:58 pm    Post subject: The Téméraire series Reply with quote

Laure, you never did tell me whether your book had pictures of dragons or not. In all 3 books I have, there's always an appendix with info on dragons, but pics in only the first one.

I finished the second one, "Throne of Jade", which I liked very much but shall not comment more at this time lest I be accused of giving you spoilers.

I have started the third one, "Black Powder War" - looks promising. The worst one is the first one, I'm glad I had ordered three at one go, or I wouldn't have persevered. But now I find it's good that I did.

I still maintain that Asian dragons shouldn't have wings. I have a mind to write Naomi Novik about it, but I don't really have time to waste over it. Though I'd be curious to see if she actually saw depictions of winged Asian dragons. Too bad our Dragon expert on CoS (apart from you Laure), V-8, never joined us. She has an impressive collection of dragon pictures in her Photobucket account. And, being Chinese, she would know if there is actually winged dragon breeds in China. I'm positive there are not in Vietnam.

I also still think Laurence is annoying as the doting "parent" and that Téméraire is a spoiled brat of a dragon. Laurence's prudishness, though, can sometimes be amusing. Granby is growing on me.
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Laurelluin



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:20 pm    Post subject: HIS Majesty's Dragon Reply with quote

Because I decided to stay out of this thread until I've finished the book, because spoilers. Yes, relating the scene about Captain Harcourt's concert experience is a spoiler. I've read it now, but I'm glad I didn't read your post about it until afters.

And now, since you're reading Throne of Jade and planning to read Black Powder War, I still can't read the thread because...spoilers. I just ain't reading as fast as Lady Dragon, and am still 20-30 pages from the end of the first book.

I agree that Laurance is sexist and classist, but if he weren't he'd be an anachronism himself. That's just the way 18th-19th century British noblemen were raised, and military men were probably the most sexist of all.

And yes, I found the pictures. very happy
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:46 pm    Post subject: The Téméraire series Reply with quote

I copied this here, it's a better place for the discussion than the "Books you've read lately" thread.

Quote:
Emmanuel wrote:
Laurelluin wrote:
*Is also reading Her Majesty's Dragon*

Most recent bit was where Laurence got lucky. Dze

Pardon me, but it's "His Majesty". I can't remember who was King of England when Napoleon was Emperor of France, but it wasn't Victoria yet, not by a long shot. super grin


My bad. I know this, but somehow I keep saying it this way. Maybe it's a subconscious attempt to subvert the rampant sexism in the book? Not a thing I can do about the classism, though.

Quote:
Laurence got lucky how? Judging by the emoticon use, maybe it was when he spent the night with Jane? Heheheh. super grin


Well, yes. I thought the horny old goat was a good one for that bleh

Yes, in Vietnamese, a womanizer is called a "goat", and when he's courting, "goat" becomes a verb, he "goats" the woman (women) he covets. That emoticon also was made by the Vietscape guy who made my dragon, and a number of other smilies we pre-empted, LOL.

ArryGrotter also pinched some of our smilies for his site, but that's OK, I pinched some of his too, except neither X or I can figure out how to make them into smilies on AV... We did that before, and now neither of us can manage it. Weird.

Anyway, back to the Téméraire series, I'm not going to say anything more, except that after the third book, I don't think I'll go on reading the series.

Laure, you're right about Laurence being sexist, a social snob and a prude is a reflection of the time he lives in. Once you've done reading the first 3 books, I'll tell you what my favourite scenes, those I find his prudishness the funniest, are.

I still don't like either him or Temeraire. I think my two favourite characters are Lt. John Granby and Emily Roland. She's a cute and spunky kid, and this is no spoiler because you already read about her. shameless grin

Glad you found the pictures. Very Happy
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:19 pm    Post subject: Captain Laurence's sexism Reply with quote

Is really annoying me!

Not only does he call his officers, male and female, "Gentlemen", but he also addresses the female runner, Emily, as "Mr. Roland". Drives me nuts!! very upset

Mind you, I think in Canada they do the same, or at least they did in that series, "Due South", about a Mountie, who addressed his woman superior officer as "Sir" instead of "Ma'am". That drove me nuts too! In the US militaary, female officers are addressed as "Ma'am".

In French we don't have the problem, since officers are addressed by rank, "Lieutenant", "Captain", "Colonel", etc.
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