His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi NovikHis Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

His Majesty's Dragon

byNaomi Novik

Mass Market Paperback | March 28, 2006

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Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies . . . not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future–and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
Naomi Novik is the acclaimed author of His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, Tongues of Serpents, Crucible of Gold, and Blood of Tyrants, the first eight volumes of the Temeraire series. She has been nominated for the Hugo Award and has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Wr...
Title:His Majesty's DragonFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 6.9 × 4.15 × 1 inPublished:March 28, 2006Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345481283

ISBN - 13:9780345481283


Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fully-formed world The characters and the setting of this novel feel exceptionally real. I would recommend this to any fan of history and/or fantasy. A wonderful tale of friendship and loyalty and courage.
Date published: 2017-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fantastic fusion of history and fantasy - a must read! I picked this book up a few years ago. I can't remember why. It might have been because I read the description on the back and was incredibly interested in how someone could write a cohesive book about dragons in Napoleonic Europe, but it's just as likely that it was due to the sleek, black dragon illustrated on the cover. Whatever the reason, I picked it up and I tore through the book. (The series was not finished at the time, so I am working my way through it from the beginning - and I don't remember all the details, so I get all the excitement and mystery of a first time reader!) Novik creates this amazing world that takes the already tense, exciting setting that is a Europe at war, and manages to make it even more rich and complex with intelligent dragons that feel so human and believable. She strikes just the right balance between detailed realism (historical, geographical, and scientific) and captivating fantasy (squadrons of dog-fighting dragons!), and creates such a lovely cast that will leave you wanting to be a captain in the British Aerial Corps more than anything. This is a great read and a wonderful start to a series that just gets better and better. Pick it up!
Date published: 2017-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great for all ages! As mentioned in a earlier review, you will fall in love with Temeraire. A great colorful read that's attractive to novice and experienced fantasy readers. Just started the Throne of Jade and planning on indulging in the entire collection.
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A Bore I found nothing original about this book and did not like the style of writing or the buildup. I found the characters flat. Certainly won't be reading the rest of the books in this series.
Date published: 2015-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from His Majesty's Dragon A fantastic read! If you like dragons at all you HAVE to read this
Date published: 2014-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from His Majesty's Dragon you will fall in love with Temeraire and Laurence. Once started it's hard to put the book down and then you want to read the next and the next. A wonderful blend of history and fantasy.
Date published: 2013-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazingly Enchanting! A story thats leaves you thirsting for more. A beautiful series! I originally read the first two books at my library, and I had to own my own version of the whole collection! The story is intense and unpredictable and the characters are amazingly well written.The relationship between the characters and the bond they share with each other is amazing. WORTH EVERY CENT. READ THIS BOOK!
Date published: 2013-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A STUNNING READ! After years of wanting to read the Temeraire series I finally got around to reading it about two weeks ago and I absolutely loved it and haven't stopped berating myself about having not started reading it sooner. Now, I don't know very much about the Napoleonic Wars but from what I've read about the author and the time period itself is that she used as much historical fact as she could whilst working in the alternative history with the dragons into the story. As soon as I started the book (which I read on my cellphone) I was hooked. The way Naomi Novik spun her tale of war, action, adventure, historical fiction and fantasy all together was simply amazing. The amount of detail that went into not only the setting but the vivid descriptions of the events, the creation of the dragons and the world was wonderfully done. At first I wasn't sure of what to make of Captain Will Laurence because he seemed a bit too haughty for his own good but eventually he grew on me especially when his bond with Temeraire evolved. For me though Temeraire was the star of the novel. I mean honestly who doesn't love an exotic, monstrously large talking dragon that loves to be read to and has an un-dragon like penchant for swimming and a taste for seafood? The novel follows these two unlikely friends during a rough time in British history and we see Temeraire grow from hatchling to a young adult dragon along side his once naval captain turned aviator as they join in to wage war on the French forces trying to invade from across the English Channel. Fraught with politics, a supreme sense of adventure and courageous battles, Naomi Novik's book was an amazing alternative look at what the world could have been like if we had been born into a world that included noble dragons. I loved learning about all the different breeds of dragons, their training and seeing all the different personalities that they exhibited. Overall this was an amazing read and I'm so glad I finally gave this book a try. Novik's writing style is strong and unique and she has a voice that's all her own. It was so refreshing to see a female author writing about dragons and war as I haven't seen many female authors take part in this genre. This is definitely one of my favourite reads of the year and is on my list top 100 favourite books of all time. I would recommend this to all fans of historical fiction and fantasy especially those who love alternative history novels. With great characters, an extremely strong plot and rich descriptions this is a must have for any fantasy reader's shelf and for a debut novel Naomi Novik proves she can hang with the big boys in the genre.
Date published: 2013-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Smashing success I was at first a bit reluctant to read this due to the fact that its based in the 1800's during the time that France was waging war on Europe, in particular britain. But the dragon angle intrigued me so I dug in. Within a few chapters I was absolutly hooked. The main character Laurence and his dragon Temeraire grab your attention and your heart and won't let go. It's a mix of a history lesson to life during that time and the addicting adventures of dragon and handler. It makes me for one very grateful not to have to deal with the indignities of the time, but also wishing for an intelligent dragon to share lifes adventures with. A great addition to any personal library.
Date published: 2011-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Enjoyable I get the feeling that somewhere along the line, Naomi Novik was maybe watching television, or reading a book, and whichever it was, it was about the Napoleonic War. And, I feel like at some point, she muted the program, or put down the book, and said out loud, "What about dragons?" Although it likely did not happen like that, Naomi Novik's plan to mix the Napoleonic War with dragon lore has ended up as a solidly enjoyable book, and a good idea for a series. This book follows a naval captain as he finds himself stuck with a hatching dragon egg taken from a French ship. Far out at sea, he is forced to harness the dragon, and abandon his previous life of respectability as a naval captain for the rough tumble of life lived by the Britain's Aviators. This is an enjoyable book that manages to take a brutish, quite ridiculous concept and turn it in to an adventure many will find themselves excited for.
Date published: 2010-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best of the Best After not reading very many books over the last decade, I found this series of 5 to be incredibly amazing. The blending of non-fiction and fantasy was seamless, and found it very easy to get lost in the words. This is definitely a great read for anyone who enjoys fantasy or history. Naomi has definitely created a great set of books, tying very well together with hardly any loss of story between them. Not many authors can say that about themselves. Great job Naomi! I look forward to reading more of your books.
Date published: 2010-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from (Not so) Superlative It would be easy to slip into hyperbole about His Majesty's Dragon, so before I get to the hyperbole I want to make it clear that while I did enjoy Naomi Novik's story of dragon riding in Napoleonic Europe, it is not the most amazing book ever. Although I will probably continue in the series, it isn't at the top of my to read list. Now for the hyperbole. His Majesty's Dragon is very entertaining. Novik sweeps us into the world of her dragonriders and delivers action at a perfect pitch, even making the dragon training seem exciting. I have steered fairly clear of most dragon riding fantasy (I hated McCaffrey when I first read her twenty years ago; I really need to give her another chance), so I don't know how far and in what directions dragon riding tales have developed, but Novik's take -- with her guncrews, midwingmen, carabiners and bombs -- felt like a truly unique idea, and I couldn't help being sucked in. Even the social aspects of the Dragon Corp -- their looser hierarchies, their admission and acceptance of women into their ranks, their relaxed morality -- were fascinating, and Novik made them believable. Wartime and the necessities of war have always been catalysts of social change, and Novik's dragons necessitate a shift in the roles of women much the same way as the armaments trade changed the roles of women in WWI. So there is much to praise in Temeraire, Book 1, and to praise highly, but something intangible felt missing, and despite everything I liked and almost loved about Novik's book, I just can't get terribly excited about His Majesty's Dragon. I wish I could.
Date published: 2008-12-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable! I picked up the UK edition of this book, simply called "Temeraire" after the principle dragon character of the book, and I very much enjoyed Naomi Novik's tale! Her writing is superb, taking the tone of formal British dialogue one might feel would be typical of the Napoleonic era, but it was her charming characters that made me fall easily in love with the book. The relationship between Temeraire and his unlikely aviator captain - an honourable naval officer of rank named Lawrence - develops wonderfully and delightfully. A unique storyline with adventure and charm makes this series an enjoyable, entertaining and often-heartwarming read!
Date published: 2008-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dragons and the Napeleonic War? I Know it sounds like an absurd combination but the author pulls it off incredibly well. This books is amazing and will immediately captivate any fantasy fan. Be warned the book is slightly romantic in places but not in a bad way the author is realistic with this. I love this series and can't wait for the fifth book to come out.
Date published: 2008-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Right up There with the best This is one of the greatest fantasy novels that I have ever read. I even put it up there with Lord of the Rings and Narnia. The way the author blends fantasy, war tactics and history is amazing. A must read.
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully Entertaining Naomi Novik takes the Napoleonic war for European dominance to new heights adding a startling innovative element - dragons instead of aircraft flying in defense of Britain. The story begins when the HMS Reliant captained by Will Laurence captures a French frigate and discovers a crate with an unhatched dragon egg in the cargo hold. Plagued by a multitude of reasons why he shouldn't be chosen as the companion and aviator of the egg when it hatches, Will agrees to a proposed lottery that is won by a promising young officer. But the new dragonet makes his own decision and Will is startled when he's adopted. Thrust from the Navy into the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, Will Laurence faces a crash course in aerial tactics, knowing that the battle for British soil is in the wind. Although some of the men in the Aerial Corps resent Will, he gains the friendship of a crusty older aviator named Berkley and his dragon Maximus, as well as Catherine Harcourt a young female aviator and her dragon Lily. But Will and Temeraire know they have to prove themselves to their friends and to the Corps if they are to gain respect. It is their struggle for respect in an arena where all the dragons must battle their arch enemy for domination of the sky that enthralls the audience and adventure, excitement and intrigue mounts.
Date published: 2008-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Master and Commander meets Eragon...and so much more A wonderful alternate history of the Napoleonic war where dragons provide the aerial support for both sides of the conflict. Good swashbuckling fun written in an engaging prose that is evocative of the period it is set in without being cumbersome. Naomi Novik has created a wonderful secondary world and filled it with loveable characters both human and draconian; the death scene of one of the dragons brought tears to my eyes. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2007-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Settle in with this great treat! Patrick O'Brien and Anne McCaffery rolled into one delightful bundle! While Novik's relative inexperience as a writer and plotter show, the tale is utterly absorbing. It will keep you up well past your bedtime, devouring pages; go right ahead because you have another three books in the series to read after this one. Interestingly, while I have enjoyed the first three novels tremendously, none matches the first in terms of engaging plot and character development. Novik writes best when she concentrates on personalities and relationships rather than history. Happily, both Captain Laurence and his dear dragon Temeraire will carry the reader through any wobbles as the series progresses.
Date published: 2007-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ingenious A great book, which brilliantly and creatively molds dragons into a new addition to the Napolianic Era. The representation of dragons as flying ships manned by a crew is something that will appeal to all ages of people who enjoy books from fantasy to history.
Date published: 2006-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brillant His Majesty's dragon sends you not only back in time, but also into a land of fantasy. A world of polite conversation and deadly battles. It makes you want to believe that wars in this world were actually fought with the help of dragons, that massive red and black dragons do exist and that somewhere put there perhaps a dragons egg is waiting for you.
Date published: 2006-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bonaparte's time with dragons! This is an excellent book after reading it the other week I went back to Chapters and bought the next two in the series. For anyone who enjoys creative license with our histroy (having dragons fighting in wars as a means of arial assualt during Bonaparte's reign), then this series is for you.
Date published: 2006-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fresh approach to dragons! I frankly hesitated to buy this book...my tastes have never run much to the /f side of sf/f, and to the extent they have, I've never been readily drawn to stories revolving around dragons. However, the notion of mixing a dragon air force into the era of the Napoleonic Wars eventually intrigued me, and I have to say this is *brilliantly* done. It's an intelligent and charming story, succeeds as adventure and to some extent a mystery (that of, initially, just where its principal dragon fits, amid the diversity of sentient types that populate his universe, then the question of just how he comes to appear where he does). It also creates a world in which there's plenty of room for commentary on the shortcomings of human societies past and present, in the collision of its innocent young dragon hero with the realities of his era. It's a challenge for the story's more knowledgeable but often little less experienced human hero! which I now look forward to following.
Date published: 2006-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read I bought the book last night and read until 3 am to finish it. It is not the usual dragon tale. The dragon corp is like the airforce, they defend the skies, in this case in England against the French. A Navy captain captures a dragon egg at sea, and realizes that for the good of England, the dragon must bond, and when the dragon chooses him, he does his duty for the good of England. He starts off thinking that the dragon is little more than a smart horse, but soon realizes that the dragon is an individual, with thoughts and ideas. So begins the deep friendship between them with burocracy, training, and battles adding to the adventure. The character development of the dragons is great. I cannot wait to read The Throne of Jade which I just went out and bought.
Date published: 2006-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A real magnet of a book This book I swear was a magnet it kept popping into my hand any time I had a free moment, and I found it difficult to put down. Any dragon lover will adore this book because it is so different than the dragon fantasy that we're used to. it is set in the Neapolitan war with a English, Navy Captain who captures a dragons egg from the french, far from shore the egg cracks and rater than lose a valuable dragon to the wild the Captain takes in the name of duty what he considers a lesser station of dragon handler. As the book progresses the we see the building relationship between the the dragon and his Captain. what makes this book great is how the author portrays the dragon corps and their role in the war. Will Napoleon win with his larger fleet of dragons? the British dragons have their work cut out for them.
Date published: 2006-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great!! One of the best books i've read this year. Follows in the great string of series about dragons i've read starting with Earagon by Paolini and the fantastic Joust series by Mercedes Lackey. and now i'm dying to read book 3 the black powder war
Date published: 2006-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hornblower With Dragons!! This book has created quite the buzz in the publishing world and with good reason. Naomi Novik has blended two great traditions in fiction: Sea-adventure and Fantasy into a wonderful concoction. This fast-moving, thoroughly enchanting tale tells the story of a ship captain in His Majesty's Royal Navy taking a French ship in battle and finding a dragon's egg on board. Dragons are used all over the world in the Aerial Corps and Britain is using them against Napoleon. The dragons are intelligent and loyal, bonding with their handlers in some wonderful characters moments. This book, the first of a trilogy, deals more with Laurence's (the ship captain) discovery of the egg and his adjustment as he goes from the Royal Navy to the Aerial Corps and his relationship to the dragon he has bonded with. There are some great battle scenes, character moments, and humor as Novik expertly blends the two genres into something new and different. The book first appeared in England and was a success there so you know the author knows here Naval history. Now the book is available for the first time in North America. I highly recommend it. The novel is new, fresh and captivating. A winner!
Date published: 2006-04-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic Bought this on the weekend and could not put it down. Hornblower with dragons. History and fantasy in a highly entertaining combination. Can't wait for the sequels
Date published: 2006-04-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hornblower With Dragons!! This book has created quite the buzz in the publishing world and with good reason. Naomi Novik has blended two great traditions in fiction: Sea-adventure and Fantasy into a wonderful concoction. This fast-moving, thoroughly enchanting tale tells the story of a ship captain in His Majesty's Royal Navy taking a French ship in battle and finding a dragon's egg on board. Dragons are used all over the world in the Aerial Corps and Britain is using them against Napoleon. The dragons are intelligent and loyal, bonding with their handlers in some wonderful characters moments. This book, the first of a trilogy, deals more with Laurence's (the ship captain) adjustment as he goes from the Royal Navy to the Aerial Corps and his relationship to the dragon he has bonded with. There are some great battle scenes, character moments, and humor as Novik expertly blends the two genres into something new and different. The book first appeared in England and was a success there so you know the author knows here Naval history. Now the book is available for the first time in North America. I highly recommend it. The novel is new, fresh and captivating. A winner!
Date published: 2006-04-05

Read from the Book

The deck of the French ship was slippery with blood, heaving in the choppy sea; a stroke might as easily bring down the man making it as the intended target. Laurence did not have time in the heat of the battle to be surprised at the degree of resistance, but even through the numbing haze of battle-fever and the confusion of swords and pistol-smoke, he marked the extreme look of anguish on the French captain’s face as the man shouted encouragement to his men. It was still there shortly thereafter, when they met on the deck, and the man surrendered his sword, very reluctantly: at the last moment his hand half-closed about the blade, as if he meant to draw it back. Laurence looked up to make certain the colors had been struck, then accepted the sword with a mute bow; he did not speak French himself, and a more formal exchange would have to wait for the presence of his third lieutenant, that young man being presently engaged belowdecks in securing the French guns. With the cessation of hostilities, the remaining Frenchmen were all virtually dropping where they stood; Laurence noticed that there were fewer of them than he would have expected for a frigate of thirty-six guns, and that they looked ill and hollow-cheeked. Many of them lay dead or dying upon the deck; he shook his head at the waste and eyed the French captain with disapproval: the man should never have offered battle. Aside from the plain fact that the Reliant would have had the Amitié slightly outgunned and outmanned under the best of circumstances, the crew had obviously been reduced by disease or hunger. To boot, the sails above them were in a sad tangle, and that no result of the battle, but of the storm which had passed but this morning; they had barely managed to bring off a single broadside before the Reliant had closed and boarded. The captain was obviously deeply overset by the defeat, but he was not a young man to be carried away by his spirits: he ought to have done better by his men than to bring them into so hopeless an action. “Mr. Riley,” Laurence said, catching his second lieutenant’s attention, “have our men carry the wounded below.” He hooked the captain’s sword on his belt; he did not think the man deserved the compliment of having it returned to him, though ordinarily he would have done so. “And pass the word for Mr. Wells.” “Very good, sir,” Riley said, turning to issue the necessary orders. Laurence stepped to the railing to look down and see what damage the hull had taken. She looked reasonably intact, and he had ordered his own men to avoid shots below the waterline; he thought with satisfaction that there would be no difficulty in bringing her into port. His hair had slipped out of his short queue, and now fell into his eyes as he looked over. He impatiently pushed it out of the way as he turned back, leaving streaks of blood upon his forehead and the sun-bleached hair; this, with his broad shoulders and his severe look, gave him an unconsciously savage appearance as he surveyed his prize, very unlike his usual thoughtful expression. Wells climbed up from below in response to the summons and came to his side. “Sir,” he said, without waiting to be addressed, “begging your pardon, but Lieutenant Gibbs says there is something queer in the hold.” “Oh? I will go and look,” Laurence said. “Pray tell this gentleman,” he indicated the French captain, “that he must give me his parole, for himself and his men, or they must be confined.” The French captain did not immediately respond; he looked at his men with a miserable expression. They would of course do much better if they could be kept spread out through the lower deck, and any recapture was a practical impossibility under the circumstances; still he hesitated, drooped, and finally husked, “Je me rends,” with a look still more wretched. Laurence gave a short nod. “He may go to his cabin,” he told Wells, and turned to step down into the hold. “Tom, will you come along? Very good.” He descended with Riley on his heels, and found his first lieutenant waiting for him. Gibbs’s round face was still shining with sweat and emotion; he would be taking the prize into port, and as she was a frigate, he almost certainly would be made post, a captain himself. Laurence was only mildly pleased; though Gibbs had done his duty reasonably, the man had been imposed on him by the Admiralty and they had not become intimates. He had wanted Riley in the first lieutenant’s place, and if he had been given his way, Riley would now be the one getting his step. That was the nature of the service, and he did not begrudge Gibbs the good fortune; still, he did not rejoice quite so wholeheartedly as he would have to see Tom get his own ship. “Very well; what’s all this, then?” Laurence said now; the hands were clustered about an oddly placed bulkhead towards the stern area of the hold, neglecting the work of cataloguing the captured ship’s stores. “Sir, if you will step this way,” Gibbs said. “Make way there,” he ordered, and the hands backed away from what Laurence now saw was a doorway set inside a wall that had been built across the back of the hold; recently, for the lumber was markedly lighter than the surrounding planks. Ducking through the low door, he found himself in a small chamber with a strange appearance. The walls had been reinforced with actual metal, which must have added a great deal of unnecessary weight to the ship, and the floor was padded with old sailcloth; in addition, there was a small coal-stove in the corner, though this was not presently in use. The only object stored within the room was a large crate, roughly the height of a man’s waist and as wide, and this was made fast to the floor and walls by means of thick hawsers attached to metal rings. Laurence could not help feeling the liveliest curiosity, and after a moment’s struggle he yielded to it. “Mr. Gibbs, I think we shall have a look inside,” he said, stepping out of the way. The top of the crate was thoroughly nailed down, but eventually yielded to the many willing hands; they pried it off and lifted out the top layer of packing, and many heads craned forward at the same time to see. No one spoke, and in silence Laurence stared at the shining curve of eggshell rising out of the heaped straw; it was scarcely possible to believe. “Pass the word for Mr. Pollitt,” he said at last; his voice sounded only a little strained. “Mr. Riley, pray be sure those lashings are quite secure.” Riley did not immediately answer, too busy staring; then he jerked to attention and said, hastily, “Yes, sir,” and bent to check the bindings. Laurence stepped closer and gazed down at the egg. There could hardly be any doubt as to its nature, though he could not say for sure from his own experience. The first amazement passing, he tentatively reached out and touched the surface, very cautiously: it was smooth and hard to the touch. He withdrew almost at once, not wanting to risk doing it some harm. Mr. Pollitt came down into the hold in his awkward way, clinging to the ladder edges with both hands and leaving bloody prints upon it; he was no kind of a sailor, having become a naval surgeon only at the late age of thirty, after some unspecified disappointments on land. He was nevertheless a genial man, well liked by the crew, even if his hand was not always the steadiest at the operating table. “Yes, sir?” he said, then saw the egg. “Good Lord above.” “It is a dragon egg, then?” Laurence said. It required an effort to restrain the triumph in his voice. “Oh, yes indeed, Captain, the size alone shows that.” Mr. Pollitt had wiped his hands on his apron and was already brushing more straw away from the top, trying to see the extent. “My, it is quite hardened already; I wonder what they can have been thinking, so far from land.” This did not sound very promising. “Hardened?” Laurence said sharply. “What does that mean?” “Why, that it will hatch soon. I will have to consult my books to be certain, but I believe that Badke’s Bestiary states with authority that when the shell has fully hardened, hatching will occur within a week. What a splendid specimen, I must get my measuring cords.” He bustled away, and Laurence exchanged a glance with Gibbs and Riley, moving closer so they might speak without being overheard by the lingering gawkers. “At least three weeks from Madeira with a fair wind, would you say?” Laurence said quietly. “At best, sir,” Gibbs said, nodding. “I cannot imagine how they came to be here with it,” Riley said. “What do you mean to do, sir?” His initial satisfaction turning gradually into dismay as he realized the very difficult situation, Laurence stared at the egg blankly. Even in the dim lantern light, it shone with the warm luster of marble. “Oh, I am damned if I know, Tom. But I suppose I will go and return the French captain his sword; it is no wonder he fought so furiously after all.” Except of course he did know; there was only one possible solution, unpleasant as it might be to contemplate. Laurence watched broodingly while the egg was transferred, still in its crate, over to the Reliant: the only grim man, except for the French officers. He had granted them the liberty of the quarterdeck, and they watched the slow process glumly from the rail. All around them, smiles wreathed every sailor’s face, private, gloating smiles, and there was a great deal of jostling among the idle hands, with many unnecessary cautions and pieces of advice called out to the sweating group of men engaged in the actual business of the transfer. The egg being safely deposited on the deck of the Reliant, Laurence took his own leave of Gibbs. “I will leave the prisoners with you; there is no sense in giving them a motive for some desperate attempt to recapture the egg,” he said. “Keep in company, as well as you can. However, if we are separated, we will rendezvous at Madeira. You have my most hearty congratulations, Captain,” he added, shaking Gibbs’s hand. “Thank you, sir, and may I say, I am most sensible—very grateful—” But here Gibbs’s eloquence, never in great supply, failed him; he gave up and merely stood beaming widely on Laurence and all the world, full of great goodwill. The ships had been brought abreast for the transfer of the crate; Laurence did not have to take a boat, but only sprang across on the up-roll of the swell. Riley and the rest of his officers had already crossed back. He gave the order to make sail, and went directly below, to wrestle with the problem in privacy.

Editorial Reviews

“Terrifically entertaining.”
–Stephen King