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Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent (A Natural History of Dragons 3) Paperback – 15 August 2019
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- Publisher : Titan Books (15 August 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1783295066
- ISBN-13 : 978-1783295067
- Item Weight : 300 g
- Dimensions : 13.2 x 2.6 x 20 cm
- Country of Origin : United Kingdom
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This series baffles me though, because I can’t think of another series that could construct its narrative so strangely and still be a success. You see, all the ‘plot’ that is to say anything with an over arching impact on the series, setting the impact of general enjoyment aside for the moment, is delegated to a maximum of the last 10% of the book in each novel of the series so far.
This is not a criticism, more something that simply amazes me, as I imagine if another less skilled writer attempted it the result would be, to describe it charitably, really bloody irritating. The narrative decision is even more evident in The Voyage of the Basilisk in particular as Isabella (Lady Trent) is, surprise surprise, on a voyage and the narrative is given in a pocket of interest style.
But it is impossible to dislike this book, no matter what you consider most important in a narrative, that is to say; style, world building, character development, sheer excitement in the delivery of set pieces.
The style, for returning fans, is nothing new; it is the continuation of the memoirs as told from the first-hand perspective of celebrated dragon naturalist Isabella Camhurst.
World building is a more general but larger glossary in Voyage, as this time round Isabella isn’t staying in one place, and I absolutely loved all the travel. Honestly, if Brennan released a work devoted entirely to the modern history of Lady Trent’s world as an audio book exclusive recited by the world’s most boring man I’d still buy it.
As for the set pieces, Isabella comes across they are fantastic, as I’ve said, very few attribute anything to the over arching plot; if you consider that to be the politics of what’s happening in this series. However if you consider the plot to be ‘have the best time you possibly can’ then yes, every single event contributes heartily. I won’t spoil because I’m going to recommend you read this yourself, but if treacherous sea voyages, flying machines and dragon riding appeal to you (and if they don’t I’m going to assume you’re the person narrating the audio exclusive I mentioned above), then you’ll thoroughly enjoy this.
Then lastly there is the Lady Trent herself, returning readers, be assured she hasn’t wavered in her fabulousness, for new comers let me simply say that Isabella is an irresistible character, she’s the epitome of pragmatism, until it comes to her intellectual obsession with Dragon’s, at which point you might call her mad. As an example; she nearly drowns, and her immediate reaction is to curse that it caused her to miss a dragon sighting.
So to returning readers, yes, the adventure is worth continuing. To newcomers, go back and read A Natural History of Dragons, the first in this series, not because you won’t understand, I’m pretty sure you could start at Voyage if you were so inclined. But why would you want to spoil this series for yourself when everything about it has been enthralling and of nothing but the highest quality, so you might as well enjoy the lot?
I think it helps that Isabella visits so many places this time, and sees so many different creatures (not all of them dragons). Her formal Victorian narration is a delight to read as usual (particularly when Isabella/Brennan's dry humour is applied), and there's a lovely atmosphere of scientific/archaeological mystery. The climax is, as it was in the previous book, centred around state politics and hostilities again, but this time Isabella ends up in the thick of it and doesn't relate it in a dull, concluded way which was the real failing of "The Tropic Of Serpents".
I eagerly await the next instalment! (And the cover - though it's hard to imagine what could be more beautiful than this one)
A realistic world with dragons but no magic is a genuinely unique idea I've never come across, and its executed brilliantly.