While I understand that this is a “short story” and shouldn’t be taken as advance material, I also feel like Naomi is testing the waters for a possible replacement for Temeraire and so I write this as if it was the first chapter (or second) of a new series.
What I first want to say is that I LOVE the IDEA. While it means we must say farewell to Temeraire and others we have come to love, I am really looking forward to the story of the first western captain and his dragon. With that being said, I didn’t like the actual story! First of all, what is with our new Captain? We go from Honorable, Hardworking, Christian Laurence to Sex-crazed, Slave-driver, Rich-dick Antonius. Quite a change of pace. And we go from our captain and dragon trying to bring down a tyrant (Napoleon) to actually helping one (Rome and Caesar). Maybe Naomi is planning some big turnaround for him, but still, you can make him rough around the edges without making him an all-out bad guy. I have recommended the Temeraire series to a number of people with many different backgrounds and they, for the most part, loved the series. But I would find it hard to recommend a book where our hero has “an orgy of two days and nights where no one was allowed to sleep”. BTW, children read these stories too.
Again, I understand that this is a short story and shouldn’t be taken as a part of a much larger narrative, but given Naomi’s skill with telling a story this one was somewhat lacking. I understand that in a short story an author must give a lot of backstory in a short amount of space, but it was so different from the first time we (and Laurence) meet Temeraire and the world of the Corps. In book 1 we had several chapters aboard the ship with Will and Tem bonding and slowly learning more about each other. In this one we have Vici hatch, skip forward several weeks (with just the barest of explanation) when the magistrate orders him and Vici to war, skip several more weeks of them flying (again with the barest of explanation) to them at war. You skipped some of the most important parts of Vici/ Antonius’ bonding time. Not only that, but the other sideshow in Temeraire was the interaction between humans and dragons, specifically those with members outside the Corp. Maybe we could have some more of that rather than just we flew for several weeks and everyone ran away (paraphrase).
PS I do love the hatching scene:
”Where the hell is the lion?”
“I was hungry,” the dragon said, unapologetically.
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