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Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful fiancée, society's esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to invade. After a skirmish with a French ship, Laurence finds himself in charge of a rear cargo: a dragon egg bound for the Emperor himself. Dragons are much prized: properly trained, they can mount a fearsome attack from the skies. One of Laurence's men must take the beast in hand and joins the aviators' cause, thus relinquishing all hope of a normal life. But when the newly-hatched dragon decides to imprint itself on Laurence, the horrified captain's world falls apart. Gone is his golden future: gone his social standing, and soon his beautiful fiancée, as he is consigned to be the constant companion and trainer of the fighting dragon Temeraire ... [back cover].