The history of the world in the Temeraire series (Naomi Novik's 9 book series from the early 2000s) is quite wildly different. One of the books places a large focus on South American, where despite widespread devastation caused by the introduction of diseases from the old world to a vulnerable population, the local Inca society remains largely in control of the continent, not having been pushed aside as the local Dragon population essentially prevented foreign conquest. There are much smaller references to Canada retaining comes native control as well. For the mainland US however, we don't get much detail in the stories. There are clearly some Native American tribes still active, and dragons appear to be involved in a more mercantile way than in Europe, but no clear information on how this came about.

Is there any detail outside the mainline books that shows the history of North America in the Temeraire universe?

  • It may help to add that the Temeraire series is by Naomi Novik and consists of a series of novels starting in 2006. Jun 9, 2022 at 16:04
  • What material is there outside the main (9 book) series? Jun 14, 2022 at 6:23
  • @ClaraDiazSanchez I don't know. That's why I'm asking :) I know there were a couple of short stories at one point. I read something about a Roman taming the first european dragon, something about Tem + Lily raiding the feeding pens, and an extended sequence from the start of book 4. But potentially there's more I've missed.
    – Jontia
    Jun 14, 2022 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


In the Temeraire series itself North America and its history is mentioned rather rarely. Blood of Tyrants (book 8) does mention Tecumseh, a Native American, as being the President of the United States in 1812 (rather than James Madison). Alexander Hamilton is implied to still be alive (having survived or avoided his duel) and to have run for (but lost) the presidency:

The President?” Temeraire said, and listened with mounting indignation as Wampanoag [an American dragon] said, quite casually, “Yes: I have met him half a dozen times, and I am sure he will see the sense of a proper treaty with the Japanese for us. I should rather have had Hamilton in the job, of course, but there! You can’t have everything, and for all that he isn’t a Federalist, Tecumseh is a clever fellow.”

In an interview from 2015, Novik remarked:

My idea for what happened in North America …was previously touched upon in an earlier book [Blood of Tyrants] is that the Iroquois and other nations had a single dragon to human relationship that was part of their foundation. Through that relationship, the dragons were part of the tribe and considered themselves responsible for the humans. I didn’t want to erase the history of colonization and there are things dragons can’t influence like disease... The colonists were willingly merged with the Native American tribes that were there. The government is essentially a confederation of tribes. The colonists’ advantages in guns wasn’t able to overcome the natives’ advantage with dragons and air power.

When asked if she was going to deal with this in more detail, she replied “Alas, not in the Temeraire series, because book nine is going to finish the Napoleonic Wars. I’m not going to get to North America or India, both which make me sad”.

Outside the nine-book series, however, she has given more details of the situation in North America. In 2017 Novik released Golden Age and other stories, which are set in the Temeraire universe. In particular one of these short stories, Planting Season, describes a few days in dragon John Wampanoag’s life, well before his appearance in Blood of Tyrants, as he carries goods between Boston and New York. A number of details about the development of the USA in this universe are given along the way. In particular there was initially hostility between the tribes and the British settlers, which pitted the Native Americans with their dragons, against the colonists' guns

the dragon riders had run the colonists all the way back behind the long guns of Boston, and burned their farms. But the next spring, their King across the sea had sent a big red-speckled egg, and a year after that, Massachusetts Bay colony had a dragon bigger than any of the ships in their harbor... So Philip had to make peace, and they all sat down around a table and drew some new lines on some new maps, and then the colonists went right back to nibble nibble nibbling around the edges, anywhere there weren’t enough Indian folks to catch them, which was everywhere.

When the American Revolution began, the tribes debated whether to side with the British or with the colonists:

Some folks wanted to help the British, who promised to keep the colonists out of Indian lands. But Singing Bird had stood up and said those promises weren’t worth any more than the ones they’d got before now, and the colonists weren’t going anywhere. Better to divide them from England with all its busy factories, and long guns, and dragons who could knock you around like a flock of chickadees.

and from Join or Die, a drabble written by Novik about Benjamin Franklin's cartoon (also available in Golden Age and other stories), it seems that the Iroquois allied with New York, and the Wampanoag and Narragansett and other Algonquian-speaking tribes with New England. Following the war, which as in our universe ended in the defeat of the British,

young Tecumseh went flying all over the country... and by the time they were ready for the Constitutional Convention, he’d gone to Philadelphia with pretty much every dragon rider left at his back, and demanded seats at the table. Nobody had seen their way clear to sending him away.

So now Pokanoket was a state, and the other Indian nations were too, and most importantly, it had been written into the Constitution that nobody could own land in the borders of an Indian state, only the right to use it, and their descendants had to renew their land-use rights with the sachems whenever they inherited.

So it appears that in this universe the tribes entered the USA as full states. While disease did greatly reduce their numbers (Wampanoag recalls how deadly yellow fever had been to the native Americans), their use of dragons and air power led them to participate in the Revolutionary War, and enter the union as equals, so that a native American became president and dragons are US citizens who might seek higher attainments including membership in Congress.

  • The idea that the guns of the period are the reason why the colonists succeeded suggests the author doesn’t take history very seriously anyway. They were hardly better than bow+arrow and slings, and at any rate the natives rapidly acquired guns and horses of their own and sometimes got quite a bit better than the colonists at using them.
    – Shamshiel
    Jun 22, 2022 at 22:37
  • It sounds like the biggest difference was that the natives in this series have some sort of united political front and supported the revolutionaries, whereas they split (sometimes dramatically, leading to the dissolution of the Iroquois) in real life but largely sided with the British which did not earn them much friendliness postwar.
    – Shamshiel
    Jun 22, 2022 at 22:44
  • @Shamshiel When you say "the reason why the colonists succeeded", what do you mean? Succeeded at what? Jun 22, 2022 at 23:08
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    @Shamshiel the quotes above seem to make clear that numbers were a key factor; "anywhere there weren’t enough Indian folks to catch them, which was everywhere." it seems a bit harsh to judge the author's understanding on a couple of quotes.
    – Jontia
    Jun 23, 2022 at 8:38
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    My pleasure @Jontia - I had no idea Novik had written these short stories, so I'm very happy to have found them now Jun 23, 2022 at 10:02

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