A Natural History of Dragons

Monday, January 29, 2018


A Natural History of Dragons
Marie Brennan, 2013

Premise: Being the first part of the memoirs of Lady Trent, natural philosopher and biologist, notable dragon researcher.

This book is obviously up my alley from the premise. It's written in the style of a classic memoir from the 1800s. It's set in a fantasy world; the characters are from an analogue of England (empire, aristocracy, etc.)

The main character Isabella is wealthy and high-class, which means that as she grows up, her interest in science and exploration is squelched by a family who wants her to marry well. However, her parents aren't just stereotypes. Instead, her father quietly encourages her to find a husband who would appreciate her intelligence.

Her romance with Jacob is complicated and understated. I liked that the author was able to find the balance with Isabella being an extraordinary person with extraordinary drive and dreams without making her unaffected by her upbringing and culture. Eventually they both join an expedition to study dragons in another part of the world and get embroiled both in scientific study and local politics.

For me, the weakest part of this book was as it became clear that it was the first small piece of a five-book series. It's not a bad book, but I wished it had gone further into her life instead of only being about one adventure as a very young woman. I really wanted to know more about the older, wiser version of the character who serves as the narrator.

One of the strongest parts is that Isabella's interest in study shows through in her narration. There is an adventure plotline with action and suspense, but the largest concern of the characters is almost always studying the dragons and figuring out how they work.

Overall I liked this book, but I'm not sure whether I want to get into a series right now.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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