Book Review: A Natural History of Dragons by: Marie Brennan

Rating: 3/5

Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates

Publish Date: February 5, 2013 

Origins: From Publisher for Review

Format: Hardcover

Order From:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten.

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

Review: 'A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent' is the first book in a new series by Marie Brennan. Having read her ‘Warrior’ and ‘Witch’ duology previously, I was interested in seeing the world Ms. Brennan had created in ‘A Natural History of Dragons’. Isabella, now Lady Trent, gives her story of dragons to the world. The book starts out with Isabella’s youth and her tomboy ways, especially interested in the natural world – and of course, dragons. From capturing Sparklings to reading her fathers’ books on the subject, Isabella was fearless in her younger years. This constitutes what I’d consider the first half of the book. The second half occurs after her marriage and her travels to Vystrana, where a mystery greets her and her fellow travelers. ‘A Natural History of Dragons’ is set in a Victorian-style era, where a married woman’s main concerns should be her husband, household, and children (if any). Isabella, thankfully, has a husband who indulges her quest for knowledge and she is brought along on a dragon expedition. There are beautiful illustrations which accompany the story, adding a depth to the narrative. The story itself was very detailed to the point of minutiae, which seemed to drag the pacing down a bit. I thought this was a novel approach to a “fantasy” novel, based in scientific study and discourse. I liked the quick asides from the point of view of Isabella as she is now (a famed dragon naturalist) and I enjoyed her spunk as a child. Although ‘A Natural History of Dragons’ was at times dry, I think it would do well as an audio book [with the correct voice actor(s) reading]. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I'm interested to see where the series will go from here, although the focus on the details might be a bit much for me. I'll have to check it out.


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