Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Between Man and Dragon

Today, I accompanied The Boyfriend for his final interview with Credit Suisse for the position of Product Analyst. The bank's office was located at Singapore's Central Business District (CBD), which meant that at least there were loads of amusements for me to partake while waiting for him. The test ran for over three hours, and for most of that time, I found myself at the nearest Starbucks - which was at the famed Ogilvy Building, just across the street from Lau Pa Sat. To celebrate submitting the last of my papers the day before, I ordered a grande cup of Mocha Praline coffee, an Ugly Chicken Pie (which tastes fantastic - Starbucks food in Singapore tastes better than Manila, that much I can tell you), and curled up in a corner of the establishment, tucked my feet underneath me, and cracked open a copy of Naomi Novik's Temeraire (published in the UK as Her Majesty's Dragon).

I actually bought the large paperback copy sometime last year, at a book sale at Lucky Plaza, which means I got a really nice copy for about SGD 6.00 (around PhP 180). However, because of academic constraints and previous disinterest, it was only now that I managed to read the story of an alternative historical account of the Napoleonic Wars. I found myself devouring more than half the book in the time I was in the cafe; at certain times I found myself gasping or laughing out loud, much to the surprise, I'm sure, of the corporate ladies and gents that went in and out of Starbucks.

Temeraire follows the story of Will Laurence, former Captain of Her Majesty's Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, and suddenly pressed into service when a hatchling dragon captured from a French frigate chose him to be his rider. The dragon, whom Laurence named Temeraire after the battle ship, is actually a rare Chinese breed that was meant for Napoleon himself, a gift of the Chinese Emperor to other members of royalty. However, the bond between Temeraire and Laurence was something that could only be sundered by death.

The book, while plodding with descriptions at times, moves the plot efficiently and quickly, as befits a military-inspired novel. But what largely drew me to the story was the bond between Temeraire and Laurence - it was both amusing and funny, especially Temeraire's observations about the world and man and society. Temeraire's voice was just spot-on, although sometimes I would mistake him for a female, the way Laurence would sometimes talk to him. I could almost imagine the elegant and deadly Temeraire flying through the sky, carrying with him Laurence and his crew as they sped through the air to fight the battle at Dover, and it was just exhilarating and amazing, the way everything just went together and made you want for more.

Of course, this now means that I have to go look for the other books in the series. I'm hoping I have the cash to buy them before I leave for Manila. ^_^

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