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A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (2013) Marie Brennan

After publishing many scientific papers upon the natural history of dragons, Lady Trent has finally decided to write her memoirs.

This is a fantasy set in a world somewhat like ours, only with dragons, and at a time and place comparable to Regency England.

This has been on my to-read pile for, approximately, forever. As I’ve noted before, I’ve become reticent to read a lot of straight up fantasy, mostly because the books tend to be long and full of cliff hangers. But after finishing a lovely urban fantasy, I couldn’t settle on what I wanted to read next (as sometimes happens) so I decided to at least start something completely different.

The story goes briefly through her youth and how she developed her fascination for dragons and natural history, but most of the story takes place when Isabella is nineteen and goes on her first expedition. I quite like Isabella.

“On the condition,” he continued when I released him enough to breathe, “that you promise me, no mad antics. No putting yourself in the path of a hungry wolf-drake. Nothing that will make me regret saying this today.”

“I promise to try and keep myself safe.”

“That isn’t quite the same thing, you know,” he said.

I love this bit because it is very much how a very young woman would think. Lots of teenagers too.

I vowed on the spot to show no behaviour that might possibly be construed as birdbrained, from then until the end of time.

I also love the little bits that remind us how past societies placed limitations upon women, both overertly and in subtle ways.

Crawling in a dress, for those gentlemen who have never had occasion to try it, is an exercise in frustration, all but guaranteed to produce feelings of homicidal annoyance in the crawler.

I love historical, but I have no illusions about the past. It’s a nice place to visit but I woudln’t want to live there for certain. So it’s nice when authors remind us of the more difficult things that go with the past.

I also enjoyed the natural history parts of the story, from the dissections to the considerations of ecology and geography.

I often wonder what it is about dragons that makes them prefer extreme climates— or is it just that we’ve pushed them back as we’ve spread out?

It’s a fun story, and looks to be a series that will go on for quite awhile, but there were no cliffhangers, so I look forward to the next book (which is on my wish list, waiting for a price drop or a holiday).
Rating: 8.5/10

Publisher: Tor Books

Categories: 8/10, Alternate History, British, Fantasy, Female     Comments (0)    

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