In His Majesty's Service: Three Novels of Temeraire (His Majesty's Service, Throne of Jade, and Black Powder War)
I love the Temeraire series which could be described as a mix of McCaffrey's Pern (dragons!) and Horatio Hornblower daring do (Napoleonic wars) and the delightfully unique. Novik's style is clean, unobtrusive, with a voice and diction that is often Austen-esque in tone. In His Majesty’s Service is an omnibus edition of the first three novels in the series: His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade and Black Powder War. The first book marked it as unique among dragon fantasies I've read for giving dragons all the personality and intellect of the human characters, while still feeling alien in character. At a certain point in the first book, I'll confess that I cried, and that's not a common experience for me reading a book. And what evoked that emotion wasn't anything that happened to a human, but one of the dragons. Throne of Jade gave us a society of dragons integrated into China. The personal and cultural clashes are done well within a tightly written action-adventure tale that didn't let me up for a moment until I found myself at the end of the book and pinning for more. In a world-building sense,Black Powder War can't match the first two books--there's no further development or surprises in terms of Temeraire's or Laurence's character--but it's fully as engrossing a read and engaging an adventure. The second book took us to China, the third to Turkey and Germany of the Napoleonic era, and it's part of the book's virtue to make me believe I visited those places--or at least what they would be like had dragons been part of the picture. Lien is also a great villain and the third book introduces Tharkay, one of my favorite characters in the series. There are three more in the series to date--I don’t think the last two are as strong as the first four--but Temeraire continues to charm.