Book Discussion: His Majesty's Dragon Chapters 7 - The End!
Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.
Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu": L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.
I bought the Trilogy (3 in 1) and I am already well into the 2nd book! Won't spoil it for those who are going to continue but the end of book one WAS a foreshadowing...
I'm not even sure where to begin discussing this book. Hiding the female officers from the public? The light and sometimes not so light animosity between the military branches? Dragons treated as property/beasts of burden/soldiers/friends/cognizant beings? How society can affect us when we stand out from the crowd?
All kinds of cool things to discuss. I'll definitely be back...
Did anyone else cry when (can't remember the names-sorry!) that officer was executed? The poor dragon! I felt so bad for him. That and when Levitas died...awww....
I kept noticing that there was an affection between Temeraire and Laurence, one almost bordering on a crush, and that there seemed to be sections where the gender of Temeraire might have been different in one of the drafts (prior to publication)... Did anyone else detect that?
When do we learn about dragons' courtship rituals? :) It seems like the discussion of "passing a dragon down from father to son and mother to daughter" almost begs for some elaboration of the dragons' psychology and sociology along that line.
How did Temeraire know to use his "great shout" on the flying barges? And how did the barge-hauler dragons manage to fight off other dragons AND maintain the kind of level flight that a barge full of armed men might require?
I didn't cry for the execution of Choiseul, though it was upsetting to see how Temeraire, Lily and Maximus took it. I did get sniffly for Levitas. He was my next favorite dragon after T. I kept hoping something horrible would happen to Rankin so that Levitas could get a new captain that would better appreciate and care for him.
I was also a bit confused by the 'my dear' thing, until I figured that Laurence was speaking to Temeraire in the same way he might possibly speak to a son or daughter.
Good point, readafew. Given our history, we humans probably would press into service sentient beings, such as these dragons seem to be. We would use them for our purposes, we would breed them, and when they weren't of service any more, we probably wouldn't be seeking coexistence or understanding. Rather, we would put them in circuses, schedule fights for our entertainment, banish them to reserves, extinguish them (as proposed in the book for feral dragons)?
I felt so strongly for Levitas. I just wanted him to have a kind, friendly captain, and I wanted Rankin to drop dead. Literally, I would have been quite pleased. Instead Levitas died, and that made me very unhappy. =( I also couldn't understand why they let Rankin treat him that way; I thought dragons were extremely valuable, so I don't understand why they'd allow a captain to mistreat his or her dragon.
I suspected Choiseul from the beginning and wasn't surprised he turned out to be working for the French. I can't explain why, I just knew he wasn't a good person. I felt sorry for his dragon though.
The stories about battles and such also seem to fit in the era as those the formal speech (at least for the 'higher' classes).
#9 and others
As for why they would let Rankin mistreat his dragon, could it be politics? Rankin is from some kind of important family. To have one of those send a son to the Corps and still treat him as a son can bring in a lot of support for the corps. Money and (political) support would be very important during the wars, but even more important in between wars. There was a reference to the fact that parliament wanted to kill all feral breeding dragons to save 10 million pounds.
T.'s 'Divine Wind' I believe was instinctual, he had accepted the fact he and his crew were most likely to die that day and just reacted. I would guess he was just trying to spook a reaction out of the transport carriers with a mighty defiant roar. He was just as shocked as everyone else of the actual affect. Though he got over that pretty quickly.
FIY -- Levitas is Latin for 'Lightness', kind of fitting for a messenger dragon.
I cried when poor little Levitas died. It just killed me that Rankin had to be forced even to speak kindly to him. I'd really hoped that Rankin would be thrown out of the Corps, (or, preferably, killed), and Levitas would be assigned to someone more worthy. I think he got away with treating his dragon so poorly partially because of his family and partially because, as domeloki says, he at least stuck to the bare minimum in most cases.
Otherwise, I'm still kind of reeling. As readafew says, there are so many discussion-worthy things in this book. Where to start?
The book mentions that Rankin only got a dragon to begin with because of family connections. I would assume this kept him his dragon. Plus Levitas didn't seem willing to accept another handler even if that had been an option. Levitas was completely loyal to jerk Rankin. :( He was getting bare minimum treatment, though, so I think the others here are right -- it was enough to keep him well enough to perform.
Were reasons given for keeping the female handlers sort of quiet? I forget. Or just the image of females negated their being accepted socially as aerial officers?
I liked the "stiff" speech. I rather with we still spoke more like that.
I had a lot of trouble with the logistics of it all. I just can't see how they would be able to communicate by shouting, especially with the bombers down below. (In real life bombers, the need radio to communicate with the guy next to them.) Also, the firepower of the day would not have worked. The best rifles they had at the time were woefully difficult to load; Napolean didn't even use them because of it. I kept imagining the men strapped on to the dragons with two little carabiners while the dragon is swooping and diving and rearing up to fight with other dragons. They wouldn't last 5 minutes without broken bones and concussions, let alone be able to load a period rifle.
And when they were rescuing the injured dragon, how were they supposed to be "supporting" him? I was imagining they would have some kind of rig hooked up to carry the injured dragon below the two rescuers, but somehow the injured dragon was resting on top? How would they flap their wings? How would the people not get crushed? Maybe I didn't understand it, but it just didn't make any sense.
I'll bow out of further discussion since the rest of you seemed to have enjoyed it so much. Ta!
But, I do expect the "logisitcs" to get a little more ironed out as the author puts mre time & thought into it. By the way, the "logistics" of his world, and the chronology of travel by the dispersed Fellowship, were details that Tolkien agonized and sweated over, and researched. Another area where The Professor (JRR) excelled.
I will be hoping and expecting the characters and plot to grow and deepen in HMD 2 & 3.
There would always be some men, er soldiers, who would look upon horses as nothing but beasts of burden, a form of transport. Others would take an actve interest in the animals and their welfare for the horses' sake, not just to keep their "gear" or mode of transport functioning.
The stakes are a little higher if you can talk to your horse (dragon), but there are always some asses (homo sapiens assus) who would never seem beyond themselves, to connect with someone or something else.
The other captains/pilots did not think highly of Rankin at all, but were part & parcel of the caste/hide-bound manners social mentality, and were not about to "interfere" in the personal affairs of Rankin. To call it "Victorian" is anachronistic, but that's the attitude. Same kind of , it's not right, but not my affair mentality that put up with:
(1) looking the other way when a master mistreated slaves, even if you didn't treat your slaves harshly
(2) looking the other way when someone abused/mistreated his wife, even if you didn't treat yours such.
And it's not like the human race has overcome all these things, yet.
Into this, alongs comes Laurence, completely unaccustomed to the corps/dragons, and is in the company of an exceptional dragon, and discovers the "beast" is almost his intellectual & emotional equal. Social mores are gonna be strained & put to the test.
One thing did disturb me in the book, however. I can't remember where it is, but Jane Roland tells Laurence that he might be considered for mating purposes to create more handlers. The whole book seemed to ring true historically, until I read this. I can see women as handlers; many women have been forced to assume "masculine" roles throughout history for various reasons. I could not, however, see how anyone at this time would think it was ok to breed people like dragons were bred. I seem to recall that Laurence spent more time considering women's hair cuts and clothes than he spent thinking about selective breeding outside of marriage. That just didn't fit the time period and didn't seem necessary to develop plot or characters.
The historical aspect of the books is fun though. History books would be more entertaining if we could read about the dragons used in such and such war. :)
I found the battle scenes very hard to read through, not because I was disengaged, but because it hurt me more somehow to read about the dragons fighting so fiercely and being wounded, than it hurts me to read about men in battles. Makes no sense, but I've always cried for the horses when reading battle histories too. Of course the men are tragic, but somehow the idea of a creature battling just out of loyalty to its owner is moving.
The whole "explaining sex" thing delighted me. Raising dragons reminds me of raising adolescents. There comes a day when you realize they don't necessarily think your thoughts, they may be smarter than you, and you have to explain why some subjects can be spoken of in private, yet are better not discussed in public loudly.
On the referring to dragons as "dear," I noticed some of the other handlers did the same.
Did anyone notice the reference in the Howe notes at the end to the lady longwing handlers? "Though the breed was first considered intractable, and indeed some consideration was given to their destruction, as too dangerous to be left unharnessed, during the reign of Elizabeth I new methods of harnessing were developed which secured the general domestication of the breed..." I liked that it was in Elizabeth I reign that this was discovered, and what with the influence of the church and society of those days, I have no doubts why they kept the "methods" quiet.
As sad as it is, Levitas is similar to abused people, in that they blame themselves and are loyal to their abuser.
All in all, I thought this was rollicking good fun to read. I would like to hear more from others who have read the subsequent books, I heard that Morphidae did not like the second one. Normally, I would rush out and buy them after enjoying the first one so much, but that gives me pause.
First off I found the book quite fun to read and had no problems whizzing through it in a few days of occasional reading and superficially enjoyed it quite a lot to the extent that I think that I'll probably read the rest at some point.
When I first read about the suggestion of the book though I was extremely excited. I hadn't heard of it before and thought it one of the best ideas for a novel that I'd heard of. I love sci-fi/fantasy that takes a very normal world and then twists it slightly. HP is the classic example. It's really just a book about a bunch of kids who go to school and have a few adventures, but Magic is real.
My Father-in-law is also very keen on Patrick O'Brian and I've read the whole set over the past few years. I loved the detail in them, so much so that I went out and bought a couple of non-fiction books about navies in the period to understand the books better.
So I thought HMD is MAC with Dragons, a marriage made in heaven. This could even be the book that converted my wife to fantasy books. But it just didn't work and I'm hugely disappointed. There's another thread around about Editing of Fantasy and this book seems to be to be one were a little less editing would have been useful. It seems like there was someone behind the book saying "Keep things moving, keep things moving". I really needed more detail and it could have come at a much more leisurely pace for me. It's the sort of book where I long for the literary version of the "director's cut".
Part of the success of HP is the fact that J.K. Rowling has clearly thought about everything and created a very believable world. Patrick O'Brian always created a whole world in extreme detail and then interspersed only occasional bits of drama and action.
I'm not explaining myself very well so I'll fall back on an example. The concept of aviators as outcasts from society was a very good one (one of many good ideas). Laurence was very concerned about the future life of whoever harnessed Temeraire at the beginning of the book and yet when it turned out to be him and his fiance dumped him and his father effectively disowned him he got over it all in just a few pages. There's really good material for an almightly internal struggle here and it was just frittered away.
One last analogy and I'll leave it. A few years ago I started a new job in the UK. After just a few months my boss came to me and asked if I would move myself and my family to Belgium for just one year to go and close a factory. Not quite a plum assignment I though but I knew that I was ideally qualified for it, I had him over a barrel. For many years I had lusted after an Audi so I negotiated a fine deal for myself including an A4 for the year. And then I was disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it was a fine car, it was just that I had built up something very special in my head and it just didn't come up to the ideal that I had created.
HMD Fine book with a truly great book hidden inside, maybe..
Yeah, so. Once again, I don't really have much substantive to add - but I liked it.
Oh, hm. It did bother me a little that dragons had been around - and intelligent - for centuries and yet 1) didn't seem to have their own culture and 2) it wasn't until Laurance came along that it 'occured' to anyone to treat them as more than beasts of burden, to bathe them and remove the harnesses and so on. I mean. Really. People treat actual beasts of burden better than that.