As it turns out, Naomi Novik also published a short collection of short stories set in the Temeraire world. Most of them are rather short, unfortunately, because I definitely enjoyed the opportunity to see the world from a perspective that wasn’t Temeraire or Laurence’s view. All the stories involve characters already introduced, and some also have quick appearances from Temeraire. The three longest stories focus on Jane Roland’s first big mission as captain after taking over from her mother, a woman who truly wasn’t meant to be in the Aerial Corps – definitely enjoyed getting a glimpse of the history of gender dynamics in the Corps that this story provided, since it also added more detail to something that had been briefly alluded to/mentioned in one of the previous novels by an older Longwing.
Another of the longer stories focused on the American merchant dragon John that Temeraire had previously interacted with, and is his origin story of how he got into business. It also finally gives more background on what things are like in the US, and as it turns out, when the British left after the Revolution, they also took their dragons with them, leaving only the members of indigenous tribes with relationships with dragons. As a result, the tribes have much more political power and say – once again, Novik already hinted at this when she mentioned President Tecumseh in a novel, but it was nice to get more details.
The final longer story was an alternate history in an alternate history series – the story basically shows what might have happened if the egg carrying Temeraire’s ship had been wrecked rather than surviving a tropical storm long enough to be captured by Laurence and the Reliant later.
A few of the other shorter stories include Volly and Temeraire’s mom. The collection ends with a series of stories of 100 words or less, most of which are cute, some of which are rather poignant. Honestly, I liked these stories, but would have loved more of them. While I certainly enjoyed the series, nine books from the perspectives of the same two characters can be a lot, and Novik’s world building around Temeraire and Laurence was good enough that I wanted to see much more of what was going on outside of them, and how other dragon handlers and their dragons developed their relationships and interacted.