I'm trying to remember a fantasy story that's been on the top of my brain. I read it just a few years ago. I think it was a book but I'm not positive.
It is set in the 1800s or so. Two countries are at war and most of the conflicts are naval battles. The ships are wooden and sail-powered. One country is losing badly. In every conflict, their ships are mysteriously decimated.
The story starts with the protagonist, who is a soldier who has been assigned to a ship out of desperation in hopes that he will stumble upon why they are being destroyed. He doesn't know anything about naval warfare and is held in contempt by the crew and especially the captain.
He accidentally tames a large, dangerous, flying creature which is considered bad luck by the superstitious crew. This creature has a magical dynamic that is able to lend the protagonist luck from time to time.
He eventually discovers that the enemy has tamed large sea monsters (kraken perhaps?) by feeding them bread. The monsters knock holes in the hulls of the ships of their enemies resulting in their swift defeat.
Much of the story is the protagonist dealing with the ship’s politics, learning how to use his unwelcome pet's special abilities, and the naval tactics used before and after the secret of the sea monsters is discovered.
It's a little hazy, but it seems like at the end, the protagonist isn't recognized as much of a hero as he deserved.
It's probably a long shot and normally I wouldn't bother people with this but it's been driving me nuts for weeks.