I have been wanting to check out Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series for a few years now. It checks my dragons and alternate history boxes of interest. While reading, I shared my enthusiasm for the first book of the series on Facebook. Malin shared that she hadn’t been as enchanted because the book focuses more on the military maneuverings than on the dragons. This is a legitimate complaint, but not one I had. I had immediately pictured our hero, Captain Lawrence, a naval captain reluctantly turned dragon aviator, as Ciaran Hinds playing Captain Wentworth. It was promptly agreed by many that Captain Wentworth makes everything better and that Ciaran Hinds’ Captain Wentworth was a particularly fine Wentworth. And so whenever faced with something not quite as good as it should be just insert Captain Wentworth. This process shall be called “Wentworthing.” Now you know. Go forth and Wentworth.
To be fair, it doesn’t take much effort or imagination to insert Jane Austen’s Captain Frederick Wentworth for Novik’s Captain William Lawrence. The two characters are contemporaries and of similar rank and temperament. Austen doesn’t take us into Captain Wentworth’s naval life, but we know he rose in rank and wealth due to his skill commanding a ship in battle. And look at that face. That face ought to be commanding a crew on a battle dragon.
I do understand Malin’s complaint. I was much more interested in the dragons than the minutia of training. Of the two main characters, Lawrence and Temeraire, Temeraire is the more interesting but we spend the least time with him. It was tough to read the battle scenes. Characters of whom I had grown fond were injured and injured other dragons and humans, sometimes horribly. I enjoyed thinking about what British society would be like of dragons were real. It was an interesting wrinkle in a time that is quite familiar to me. My favorite part of the novel was the relationship between Lawrence and Temeraire the dragon. I’m looking forward to reading more, though I may read the battle scenes with my eyes closed.
Correction: Thank you fellow Cannonballer Katie for pointing out that I had allowed autocorrect to change “Austen” to “Austin.” Let this be a lesson to us all that sometimes it’s better to wait until morning to push the “publish” button. I apologize to any Jane Austen fans I may have offended and to the ghost of Ms. Austen herself.