Slowly but surely my crusade is making progress. One of the best presents I received this year was from my favorite aunt: the Dragon Book. A collection of stories, what do I spy on the author list? Why Naomi Novik! While Paolini is no where to be found. Having just read Novik’s story, “Vici” I thought I’d write a brief review.
Summary: It rocks.
Detailed: One of the best parts of the story is that you are told nothing about it. There is a brief author detail then you are thrown right into the thick of things. As an intro for new fans of Novik, this story might come off as a bit disappointing. For hardcore fans this story alone is worth picking up the book for as it’s laced with treats for them. As is her style (especially demonstrated in Victory of Eagles, Novik hides clues about the story’s most pertinent details right in front of you. Depending on your background knowledge, it isn’t until the 8th paragraph that you get a confirmation of where this story is taking place, with the ‘when’ confirmed shortly before.
(possible spoilers follow)
The biggest treat is the realization that this tale does take place within the Temeraire universe. We are never told outright in the book, but there are so many threads running from this story to the Temeraire series, it is undeniably connected. In fact, after reading it I’m tempted to get the novels back out and dig through them to see if I can find a connection between the protagonist and some of our favorite characters.
Yes, this story is a prequel and proves how smartly prequels can be done. It also proves that Novik is not a one-trick author, confined to the Napoleonic era. With this one story, fans can see the possibilities open. With this one story, we now know that Novik can take us to anywhere, anytime within this alternate world and draw us in as surely as she did with Laurence and Temeraire. In fact, now I desire for us to create a name for Novik’s world so that we don’t have to constantly be referring to it by the name of one player within that world. Something as catchy as “middle-earth” which tells us that this world may have dragons, but it’s not too exotic. Like… “near-earth” or “scale-earth” or something. This story also opens up fan-fic writers as now we they have an entire world and history to play in, not just a limited time and place.
Bravo Mrs Novik. With one short story you have whetted my appetite for more in a manner few artists have done.