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A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (Memoirs of Lady Trent Book 1) Kindle Edition
“Her Ladyship is a determined and canny woman in search of dragons--I wholeheartedly approve!” ―Melanie Rawn, bestselling author of Touchstone, on A Natural History of Dragons
“Saturated with the joy and urgency of discovery and scientific curiosity.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“If you've ever secretly wished dragons were real, this story is for you. Fans of Naomi Novik and Mary Robinette Kowal will especially enjoy this book.” ―RT Book Reviews
“Told in the style of a Victorian memoir, courageous, intelligent and determined Isabella's account is colorful, vigorous and absorbing. A sort of Victorian why-what-whodunit embellished by Brennan's singular upgrade of a fantasy bromide and revitalizingly different viewpoint.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Lady Trent is the Jane Goodall of dragonkind, and I'm glad she's finally sharing her story with the world.” ―Jim C. Hines, author of Libriomancer
“A Natural History of Dragons stands somewhere between Naomi Novik and Elizabeth Peters, but rock-solidly in its own world and on its own terms. Highly recommended.” ―Daniel Fox, author of Dragon in Chains
About the Author
- ASIN : B00MLDTHOE
- Publisher : Titan Books (14 February 2014)
- Language : English
- File size : 4190 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 335 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #99,841 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from other countries
The conceit that this is a memoir of a famous person who the readers will all know, with the little asides about how previous biographies have missed out import parts, works well. We get to see Isabella grow up in a world where girls are expected to marry well, and where women are expected to be decorative. Isabella is passionate about dragons, and ill-suited to her world. Fortunately, she has chosen the right husband, and he and she embark on their dragon expedition together. Surly villagers, handsome smugglers, and political machinations all make dragon research more difficult, but are all, clearly, relevant to the mystery of the dragons’ strangely-changed behaviour.
What Isabella learns on her first expedition will stand her in good stead for what I am sure will be many further adventures.
What I would caution is that Brennan does couch the language in an approximation of 19th century prose – however, it is only an approximation. There is nothing like the pages of intense description or long, involved passages of exposition you’d find in a novel written by Dickens or Mrs Gaskell. Brennan takes the story forward in the form of a memoir written by Lady Trent as an elderly lady about the exploits that made her famous, which moves along at a fair clip.
I was utterly beguiled. This is a wonderful conceit brilliantly pulled off by Brennan. The plot rapidly corkscrews away in all sorts of directions I hadn’t anticipated and there is a really shocking outcome that left me winded at the ending, while leaving me keen to learn more.
I’m so glad Himself has bought the next three books in the series – and the great news for fans of this accomplished series is that the fifth and final book, Within the Sanctuary of Wings is due out in February 2017. I’m very much looking forward to reading it – which also gives me an excellent excuse to tuck into the other three in the meantime. Happy Christmas me – and many, many thanks to Kivaria for her recommendation. She is spot on – this is one of my outstanding reads of the year.
And enjoy it I did. The narrator, who tells her story as a memoir, has an instantly likeable voice. The story is set in a fictional Victorian-like world, perhaps a little bare-boned, but suitably fleshed out for the plot. Victorian mores rule; our indomitable narrator yearns to break free of social constraints, and realise her childhood dream: studying dragons.
So much care has been put into giving life to the dragons in this book, from their appearances to their behaviour to their physiology. There's no romanticism of them; many stories gift dragons with an intelligence comparable to humans, but here they are presented much more as animal, something I found refreshingly different.
The Victorian-style setting really does enhance the story, enriching the narrator's witty voice and providing the sense of a world teetering on the cusp of industrialisation, something that will surely come into conflict with the existence of the dragons (indeed, in the story, they are already said to have declined or be declining in many parts of the world). The book even manages to make itself relevant to our own real, contemporary world - at one point, the narrator defends herself and her fellow researchers for shooting a dragon for the purposes of scientific study, and argues how hypocritical her countrymen are for decrying the killing of animals abroad which at home they would not hesitate to kill for their own comfort or safety.
The plot is, probably, the weakest component of the book, if only because the others are so strong. This is one of those stories which is as much about the characters as the dragons, meaning that there were not quite enough dragons for me. The focus in the latter half of the book was almost a murder mystery, with a wholly human core. But the ending was sufficiently tied up, and holds plenty of promise for a sequel, which I expect the author (the real-life one) to produce!
It would be a crime to review this book without mentioning the drawings. There are a number of them interspersed through the book, most of them of dragons. They're wonderful to look at, and only enhance the reader's experience.
The dragons play an interesting role here. They are dangerous and mysterious but Brennan indicates that there are many different breeds with varying abilities and behaviours, a few of which are referenced in this book. I hope to learn about other breeds in future books! I would have liked to see a little more of the dragons, and perhaps to understand them a little better, but the continued mystery is fitting for Isabella at this stage of her life. The story also features lots of adventure and a sweet romance with a surprise twist. I was impressed by the way that the romance is fairly subtle, and never overpowers the story. The book is full of surprises, most of them excellent, though I did predict one particular incident at the end.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves dragons, fantasy worlds, and the Temeraire novels. I am now going to buy book 2 and preorder book 3.