His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
I should preface this post by noting that I know Naomi, having worked with her for a short period of time on the first Neverwinter Nights expansion pack, Shadows of Undrentide. Though to show how little I knew her, I had no idea she was writing (or was going to write) a novel. She was mostly doing scripting work (setting up game plots, et cetera), though I think she also did some dialog writing and art/animation tasks for Shadows.
Anyways, a few years later I found out she had written His Majesty’s Dragon, the first in a series of novels set in an alternate Earth wherein dragons have always existed. On a recent vacation, I was finally able to read it.
I really enjoyed it. I was impressed, both by the quality of the writing, and how engaging the story was. The Napoleonic setting is well researched and interesting in and of itself — what if there were dragons throughout history? What would change? What would not? And the characters are delightful with a nice balance of humour and development. The transformation of Captain Laurence as he bonds with Temeraire is realistic, as are his struggles with his changing place in society and the high cost, both material and social, of his relationship with his dragon.
I am very much looking forward to reading her other novels.