April 16, 2017

Science, Dragons OH MY | A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Backlist Review

A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan
Published by Tor Books on February 5th 2013
Pages: 334

Marie Brennan begins a thrilling new fantasy series in A Natural History of Dragons, combining adventure with the inquisitive spirit of the Victorian Age.
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.
"Saturated with the joy and urgency of discovery and scientific curiosity."Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on A Natural History of Dragons
An NPR Best Book of 2013

I can’t say that I am the most interested person in natural history. But what does interest me is the idea of taking an idea like dragons and spinning it on its head. With the last book in the series WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS coming out on the 25th of April I thought it would be such an excellent time to start this series. Brennan mixes our Victorian time period and turns it on its head with the introduction of dragons. This is such a different spin on dragons that I couldn’t help but be hooked from the very first chapter.

Thanks to my library, I was able to read and listen to the audiobook of A Natural History of Dragons and in which both offer something quite unique. In the physical copy, there are drawings that are Isabella’s. This allowed me to experience how both mediums helped, in their own respects, to humanize and endear the readers to Lady Trent that otherwise with the memoir style that the book was written could easily put the reader at a distance.

What was CHARMING:

A DELIGHT to the EYES & EARS: They gave something completely lovely to the story. The only book that I have ever seen do that (that I enjoyed) has been the Illuminae series. The book gave us the drawings that Lady Trent made during the expedition and the audiobook (narrated by Kate Reading) was perfect and her voice was exactly how I thought Lady Trent would sound reading her memoirs.

DADDY and HUSBAND GOALS: I won’t give who the husband is but both her father and husband do such an awesome job of fostering her love of natural history when it would be so easy for them to crush it. When it appears that her father is calluse he really is being one of the best dads I have seen in this “era” of this book (it’s not our time but was heavily influenced by it). The closest comparison to what a spectacular dad Lady Trent’s dad would be of Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and how he loves Elizabeth (but doesn’t always do it in what we would consider the right reason). Her husband does the same type of fostering but in a completely different way and I just can’t handle how cute they are.

REALISTIC and INFERATING: Lady Trent was realistic. She had prejudices that came out in full force (which are infuriating) when it comes to her reaching their expedition and how she really does not like the place. It makes sense. She isn’t comfortable and it isn’t an experience that she, at 19, is completely comfortable with. Not to mention the fact that she doesn’t see herself as being in anyway different than the other women of her time other than the fact she likes natural history and it isn’t a subject her sex is allowed to like. She doesn’t fear being married, doesn’t fight it, and can genuinely see the need for finding a match. Again, this is a part that I love about her and her father. So read it and see what that part is!


My HEART my FEELINGS my EVERYTHING: If there was anything that I didn’t like about this book was the ending. Oh, sweet BABY, it was sad. I cried. I will admit that I am still not over it. Oh, boy. (I’m not saying I didn’t LIKE the ending, it just was a punch in the feels)

With this being said, I really enjoyed this world and the expeditions of Lady Trent. If you love reading about the Victorian time period with a splash of learning about the natural history of dragons this is the story for you.

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