A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1)

By Marie Brennan

Rating: 4 stars

This is a memoir of the foremost dragon expert in the world, Isabella Camherst, her first expedition to study the creatures and of the very human problems that the expedition encountered. I really enjoyed this book a lot. Although I’ve shelved it as ‘fantasy’, the only fantastic elements are that it’s not set in our world, and that there are dragons. And even the dragons are very naturalistic, with organs that generate their unique breath. Isabella even helps to dissect and record the details of them more than once.

The worldbuilding is rather marvellous as well. It’s set in what we would describe as an early Victorian period, and it seems that the country that Isabella comes from is probably analogous to Britain during that period. There are details thrown in (such as hints that iron ore isn’t common in this country, leading to militaristic endeavours abroad) in a casual way that that provides information without breaking up the flow of the story.

I enjoyed Isabella’s voice in this memoir as well. Both the youthful nineteen year old new bride who manipulates her husband into taking her on the expedition and the wiser, at times querulous voice of the elderly Lady Trent (as she becomes at some point) adding asides and her own commentary.

Some other reviews have had problems with the narrator’s voice and the trouble she had with just one servant in this remote village, where the expedition was taking place. This doesn’t bother me one bit, because even for an adventurous young lady, a noblewoman of the period would have felt like that, and Isabella tries her best to overcome that.

One word of warning, dragons aren’t really make a huge presence in the story and when they are, it’s from a naturalistic, scientific point of view. I love the idea of treating dragons in that way and having a pseudo-Victorian naturalist try to analyse them, but if you’re after lots of flaming and adventure then maybe this isn’t for you.

Book details

ISBN: 9781783292394
Publisher: Titan Books (Titan Entertainment Group)
Year of publication: 2013

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