I am thoroughly impressed by this book. The cover, the font, art and even how the pages were cut. Everything was spot on and I hadn’t even read the first line.
Title: A Natural History of Dragons
Series: The Memoirs of Lady Trent; Book 1
Author: Marie Brennan
ROTS Setting: UU, Dragons, Science, Pre/Industrial Era
Synopsis: 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.
Recommendation: I highly recommend this book. Suitable for adults and older teens.
Memoirs are not my thing, but since dragons were involved I didn’t let that stop me. From the very first time laying eyes on this book I had a clear picture of what I thought it could be. Honestly it was more a movie or TV series in my head, but that’s not the point. Knowing how strong this impression was I have been hesitant to even take a glance at the series for fear of it not rising to my ludicrous expectations. Clearly I gave in and I have to say I’m very impressed with the whole thing, it’s not far off my wildest fancy and the few differing points are largely immaterial.
Oh dang, the writing style as leeched into my fingers. Forgive my reckless use of prose.
Basically it’s a cross between Temeraire and Jane Austin or Downton Abbey. Dragons aren’t being used for combat, sadly, but they’re very unknown in the burgeoning era of steam-ships. So naturally there would be those interested in studying dragons in all their majesty.
Isabella, the eventual Lady Trent, is a closet-naturalist with a completely healthy obsession with dragons. However, society doesn’t see it that way. She was a vapid teenager but as it’s been written by a much more mature version of herself it was easy to commiserate with the youthful follies instead of suffering through them. In the end I’m very pleased with the character arc so far and so long as things aren’t botched in the later books there’s a fair amount of foreshadow that I’m excited for.
The plot is very heavy on the world and character building and not too much else. I can appreciated both those elements immensely and enjoyed the discoveries for both. However, the main plot was a bit weak and a little scattered, but I can be forgiving since everything else was excellently done.
My favorite part was the very scientific approach to the dragons and seeing a society similar to our own but one in which dragon history is an integral part of how everything formed. This is similar and contrasting to Temeraire.
The world is supposed to be it’s own thing but it’s really just an Earth analog. Scirland is basically England/UK/British Isles. And there are clear connections between some of the other places and their real-world counterparts. And I shouldn’t need to say this but I was grateful for the balanced approach when describing the constraints society put on the different sexes. All too often the focus is entirely upon women’s struggles and either ignores entirely men’s struggles or puts them in an exclusively positive position. It made the world both more relatable and so much more nuanced.
In summary, it was a very good book and I’m excited to read more.