Every so often, Amazon will have a free Kindle book available for a limited time. Usually it’s the first book in a series, and they’ll time the giveaway to coincide with the release of a new book from that series. I’ve gotten a couple of books this way. Some of them I’ve read, shrugged, and deleted; others I’ve sought out the rest of the series. This book was one of the latter.
It starts out as a rollicking* high seas adventure of Britain in the Napoleanic wars. This has been a fertile source for fiction, giving us the Royal Navy adventures of the Horatio Hornblower novels, the Royal Army exploits in the Richard Sharpe books, and now the Royal Flying Corps books of William Laurence.
Yes, yes, I know the RFC didn’t exist until World War One. But when you’ve populated your historical-fiction world with dragons, it only makes sense that they’d be used as an air force.
The starting point for the story is simple: a British ship skirmishes with and captures a French vessel, and discovers that it is carrying a dragon’s egg aboard. The egg is on the verge of hatching, so there’s no way to get it to a trained RFC dragon handler in time. The best the captain can hope for is that the dragon will let one of his officers feed and harness it – otherwise it will go feral and be useless to the war effort. Unfortunately, whoever it chooses will have to leave a promising career in the finest Navy in the world and move to the socially unacceptable Flying Corps.
The book is full of fun details like that – the inter-service rivalry is handled brilliantly, especially as you get into some of the reasons behind it. The main character’s progression from true-blue Navy officer to staunch Corps supporter is gradual, believable and fun. I’m very likely going to be posting reviews of more of the series before too long.
Pages: 384 in paperback
Total page count: 2163
*As a total side note, how exactly does one “rollick”? Do you need special shoes for that?