T is for the Temeraire Saga
I know it’s called the April 2017 AtoZ Challenge, but I’m going to finish my Dragons in Our Fandoms series at my own pace, and I hope you’ll indulge me! I took a week off, but for this second week of May, let’s take a look at a series that was brand new to me before this — the Temeraire saga by Naomi Novik.
As you can see, there are nine total books in the Temeraire saga, published by Penguin Random House. It began with His Majesty’s Dragon in 2006, and wrapped up with League of Dragons in 2016. My featured image is the cover art of the sixth book, Tongues of Serpents.
According to Wikipedia, “the world [of Temeraire is our own world,] and its history is portrayed as being very similar to the real one, barring the addition of dragons; British society and values are unaltered, the American Revolution succeeded, et cetera…”
Author Naomi Novik published a wonderful introduction to Temeraire on her website:
Capt. Will Laurence is serving with honor in the British Navy when his ship captures a French frigate harboring most an unusual cargo – an incalculably valuable dragon egg, [bound for Napoleon Bonaparte himself].
When the egg hatches, Laurence unexpectedly becomes the master of the young dragon Temeraire and finds himself on an extraordinary journey that will shatter his orderly, respectable life [in the Naval Corps] and alter the course of his nation’s history.
Thrust into England’s Aerial Corps, Laurence and Temeraire undergo rigorous training while staving off French forces intent on breaching British soil.
I was not surprised at all to find that professional artist Todd Lockwood, renowned for his fantasy and dragon artwork, including the covers of some of the Dragonriders of Pern books by Anne McCaffrey, had painted this cover for the Science Fiction Book Club release of Temeraire: In the Service of the King, one of the omnibus editions of the first three novels published together. Lockwood’s art is beautiful, as always, although I also love the symmetry of the pendant-like covers above — they remind me a little of the U.K. adult editions of the Harry Potter books.
The first three books were also published with an additional original story under the title In His Majesty’s Service: Three Novels of Temeraire. You can read a long excerpt from the first book at that link on Naomi’s website, which is really well done. Exploring her site, I had a brief vision of the future and a website devoted to my own book series, and I hope one day it might be just as nice!
For a more in-depth but fairly spoiler-free view of the overall series, I highly recommend reading The A.V. Club’s Jason Heller‘s NPR book review from June 2016, called Temeraire and Laurence, At Peace At Last in ‘League of Dragons’, the final book of the saga. Heller writes:
For all the epic bombast and spectacle, the [Temeraire] series relishes its quiet moments — Temeraire, unable to hold a book in his ungainly talons, asks Laurence to read to him, and that image, of dragon and man sharing stories with each other, is at the heart of the series.
I will certainly be reading this series soon, but for now, let’s take a look at some of the wonderful fanart I found for this very popular saga.
This first is called Temeraire, depicting the eponymous dragon with his partner Laurence beside him, by American professional artist Seyer, posting as Laurelhach23. Temeraire, a Celestial breed from China, is at the small end of the Heavyweight division.
Seyer’s art for this series is so good that I’m going to share a few more of his dragons, but these small versions don’t really do them justice, so please go check out his amazing gallery for full-sized images.
Clockwise, starting top-left with the biggest dragon species in the series (yes, that’s a person in the lower right corner!), here is Maximus, a Regal Copper dragon; then a French Flamme de Gloire, a Middleweight and one of the only firebreathing dragons; then Lily the Longwing, another Middleweight with beautiful wingtips; then Nitidus, a smaller Pascal’s Blue Light Combat dragon; and finally Churki, a beautiful Incan dragon that is nearly as large as the Regal Copper. And there are dozens more types of dragons in this series!
Next up is a really neat piece called Lily’s Formation by Polish deviantartist Katarzyna Mizerska, posting as Kalia24, depicting the way these dragons fly in the British Aerial Corps against the forces of Napoleon. It includes Lily, Nitidus, Maximus, Temeraire, and a few other dragons, and gives you an idea of their relative sizes. Katarzyna’s deviantart tagline is “Bringing dragons to the world,” and she certainly does that, so check out her amazing gallery for more!
Then we have North Star – Temeraire by Canadian deviantartist Duragrn, which he captions, “Temeraire faces the direction of the wind aboard the dragon deck, on a clear night atop the ocean. … In the books it describes him as having ‘frills’, and ‘ears’ which sometimes forms different expressions in the book, so the frilly ears I thought were the way to go.” I think he looks very expressive! Cory seems to have removed most of his gallery, but perhaps he will upload more soon.
Next, here is Valinor and Temeraire by Polish professional artist Kamila Mrożek, posting as Diterkha. It was a piece commissioned by fellow artist Denodon, who renamed it “Temeraire’s Literary Company,” and features his original dragon character Valinor hanging out and reading with Tem. Denodon captions that Temeraire “was rather disappointed … that few of the dragons around him were interested in anything beyond fighting,” and this picture reminds me of the quote about Temeraire and Laurence reading from Jason Heller above. Check out the galleries of Diterkha and Denodon for more art.
This next one is called Burn it to the ground by Hungarian deviantartist ghxy, featuring a background by disinchanted, and depicting a marvelous Flamme de Gloire doing what they do best! You can see more lovely art by ghxy in her gallery.
And then, I just had to share this one, called Can I Eat It? It is a collaboration between two German deviantartists, malloth86 and Elhanna, and features a crossover between the Temeraire and Doctor Who fandoms. I wonder what the passengers inside the TARDIS are thinking right now — that looks like Maximus and Temeraire to me! See more art in the galleries of malloth86 and Elhanna.
There were rumors about Temeraire making its way to the big screen, but as Wikipedia details:
The Hollywood Reporter [reported in 2006] that Peter Jackson, who is best known for directing the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has optioned the rights to the series. Jackson added that Temeraire “is a terrific meld of two genres that I particularly love—fantasy and historical epic. I can’t wait to see Napoleonic battles fought with a squadron of dragons. That’s what I go to the movies for.”
On July 24, 2009 in an interview with IGN, Jackson stated that he has considered making the story as a mini-series, as he is worried that if the first movie would flop at the box office, it would put the story at a full stop and leave it incomplete.
[However,] on Naomi Novik’s AMA on reddit on February 24, 2016, Novik answered a question regarding the film adaptation and said that the film rights have returned to her once again. There is no plan for any adaptation currently.
The fact that there isn’t a movie in the works right now has not stopped the fans, however. Here is a really interesting fan-made trailer for a first movie in the series by LadyAriadne, giving us an idea of what a not-yet-existing big screen version of Temeraire might look like!
And finally this last work of fanart is very beautiful, and also quite poignant. This is Salve d’honneur, which translates as the salute, by Polish deviantartist Drangir, who uploaded it the day after the terrible November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks. It’s an “unnamed French dragon, probably of Pecheur Couronne breed,” Drangir writes, and is a great example of how art can be more than just pretty pictures. ❤
All right. I’ve been very busy and a little low on spoons lately, which is why this post took so long to finish, but I appreciate everyone for continuing to follow me! As I mentioned before, I absolutely plan to finish my Dragons in Our Fandoms series, and then I will publish a Reflections post at the end as well.
Next week we’re on to “U” and yet another video game franchise, so check back for that! Thanks for reading, take care, and stay creative!
Book covers for each of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels from Penguin Random House
Temeraire by Todd Lockwood
Temeraire by Laurelhach23
Maximus, Flamme de Gloire, Lily the Longwing, Nitidus, and Churki by Laurelhach23
Lily’s Formation by Katarzyna Mizerska, posting as Kalia24
North Star – Temeraire by Duragrn
Valinor and Temeraire by Kamila Mrożek, posting as Diterkha
Burn it to the ground by ghxy
Can I Eat It? by malloth86 and Elhanna
Salve d’honneur by Drangir