Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

After British navy captain William Lawrence accidentally captures the egg of a chinese dragon from the French, he is soon pressed into service in the aerial core to train with his new-born dragon for the wars against France and Napoleon. At first it takes some getting used to the new world he finds himself in, but the bond with his dragon Temeraire helps a lot, and everything there is to learn keeps him occupied – until the French threat grows, and Lawrence and Temeraire are sent on their first missions in service of the crown…


Listened to the audiobook with Simon Vance.


Oh boy, this book. I so wanted to like it – it has such a great tangible, alternate history setting: the Napoleonic wars, with dragons – what’s not to like?


Well, it turns out that the premise of the book is sadly significantly better than its execution. It is not  terrible, but I found it lacking in too many ways to be a recommendation. There is sadly very little development in the defining relationship of the book, that between the main character and his dragon. Lawrence, the main character, is unfortunately rather uninteresting as a character, and though he meets some interesting people, there is so much going on that there is very little room for characters to attain true depth. The worldbuilding is decent, but especially towards the end, it stretched my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. I know there are plenty of books in the series, and I am sure some of those will put meat on the bones where this book looks meagre, but Temeraire has not motivated me to pick them up and explore whether the other installments make up for what the first part does not have. 


This book could be a good read for younger (Young Adult onwards) or newer readers just starting out in the fantasy genre. For others, I would recommend checking out Novik’s other works first.

Despite being a fan of Naomi Novik’s other books, this one did not work for me any better than it did for Peter. While it is an interesting concept that is pretty well worked-out, I simply did not find the characters interesting enough to really care about them. Because of this, I was not very invested in any of the battle scenes either. After finishing the first book I decided not to continue with the rest of the series.

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