Laurence is the captain of a British navy ship during the time of Napoleon. When his ship manages to capture a dragon's egg on the verge of hatching he makes the choice to bond to Temeraire which means he will have to give up his position in the navy and join the air force instead. Dragon handlers are not well-regarded and this is a sad decision for Laurence but the longer he spends with Temeraire the more he realizes how intelligent the dragon is and their relationship becomes so close that he becomes completely devoted to his dragon. Temeraire is a rare Asian dragon and as such is greatly prized by both sides in the combat. The conflicts and danger are important in the book but the real heart of the story is the close relationship between Laurence and Temeraire. A fantastic (but perhaps challenging) story!