I've been reading an alternate history fantasy series in which dragons fight in the Napoleonic wars. All battles, like Trafalgar, are as accurately depicted as possible, but now Improved! With dragons! It's written by Naomi Novik, a strategy-loving nerd (she named her daughter 'Evidence,' ferchrissakes) writing in archaic British. It's a series I would enjoy less without my kindle, as I have to look up nineteenth century Brit slang like "havey-cavey" and 'gaby." The central characters are a navy captain and the dragon that emerges from an egg taken in battle. In such novels, the dragonlet chooses its person. Temeraire decides he wants the navy captain over anyone else, in spite of objections on every side. He turns out to be a Chinese dragon, bred to be the intellectual equal of and companion to Emperors. Upon learning that dragons are treated like slaves, he demands equal rights, suffrage and payment for military service. The navy-captian-turned-aviator, an abolitionist already, has quite the challenge guiding his "rabble-rousing, sedition-preaching Jacobin " to follow the chain of command, particularly in wartime. In fact, Temeraire has fun debating ethics, period. Meanwhile, the Chinese discover the dragon has been mismatched and demand his return... Once in China, dragon and man see that dragons can be fully integrated into society to the benefit of all, etc. further igniting Temeraire's passion to improve the world and providing fodder for interesting dialogues about how far a society can be pushed toward change in one fell swoop.
In seven books, the team visits every continent encountering different societies set up with dragons, in each case promoting believable British foreign policy aims and encountering believable Napoleonic ones. There are plenty of battles, storms, fires, assassinations and abductions to keep it lively. The dragons are interesting enough characters. The world building is well done: I particularly enjoyed the idea of southwestern African dragons being the reincarnation of ancestors who then protect their families--nicely fits with Nigerians I know who believe in reincarnation. And it's thrilling to see the reincarnated dragons rescue their people, who've been transported into slavery, albeit with French assistance. In fact, Napoleon seems just often enough on the right side of civil rights and trade reforms, and Britain, on the wrong, that I sympathize with the dragon's captain's wavering loyalties. Of course, the Captain realizes Napoleon's slime, he just points out what he does right. (Makes me wanna read more about Napoleon.)
I just hope the author ties it all up interestingly in the last two books. I usually prefer a tightly-written plot to a sprawling road trip.
It's good, and I wish I had more, now.