The Temeraire Series, written by Naomi Novik, is alternative history that premises what would have happened if dragons had been present during the Napoleonic Wars. Somewhere between book 1, His Majesty’s Dragon, and book 6, Tongues of Serpents, I metamorphosed from a causal reader to a fan. I don’t remember the first day I began to think “I wonder…” but this is probably the biggest clue to the start. “I wonder what Temeraire would have thought of this.” this thing that just happened to me in real life. This weekend as I was reading the latest book, which takes place in Australia, I thought: “I wonder what is happening to little Perscitia (a scholarly little dragon who doesn’t like to fight) back in Britain. I hope she is happy. I wonder what is happening to Admiral Roland, too. Will we ever find out what happens to Emily? Will she be a good captain?” I had to reel myself back in when I was wondering whether I could find a Perscitia costume to wear to Tai Chi this weekend, although dragons are very thematic to martial arts.
The Temeraire series hooked me in emotionally because of the characters, especially the bond between captain and dragon. It is about as close to unconditionally love that one can find. The series hooked me in intellectually because it tackles interesting and sometimes difficult topics: ethics, loyalty and duty, genocide, slavery, Imperialism. I am not a great history fan, but it has made that period come alive for me. In some small way, I feel like I have been a part of it, if only in my imagination.