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Despite claims that this would be a good entry point to the Lady Trent series, my firm advice would be – don’t touch it until you have read the complete series, apart from anything else, the book contains big spoilers to Within the Sanctuary of Wings and frankly, because of the nature of the narrative, I think you’d be floundering a great deal of the time if you tried plunging into this world via this book. As it has an epistolary structure, containing diary entries, letters, notes and translations of ancient Draconean tablets, I think you need to already have a good idea of the world and the political structure.
That said, I really loved this one. Brennan’s writing talent pings off the page as I quickly bonded with Audrey, brought up to disregard the rigid conventions of polite society, and passionate about the Draconean civilisation. She also happens to have been born into a family of high achievers – her grandmother, Lady Trent, blazed a trail with her insights into the life cycles of a variety of dragon species and her father is a world-famous translator of ancient languages. Audrey, notwithstanding her youth, is desperate to also make her mark – more particularly since she was robbed of a claim to fame by someone she’d trusted. This need drives her more than it should – and leads her into making some major mistakes. Cora, unloved and disregarded, is also someone I fell for in a big way, as well as dear, kindly Kudshayn, the draconian translator who helps Audrey with her huge task in translating these tablets.
The translations are beautifully done and the scholarly exploration of the ancient religion compared with the modern variant is perfectly achieved, with the mythological stories so well written, it was a struggle at times to remember they were a fantastic conceit nested within a novel. The initial pacing is leisurely, but once the enormity of what is going on began to emerge, I simply couldn’t put this one down. While the theme of prejudice and bigotry was all too evident, the theme that caught my attention, was the way that intellectual arrogance is also a snare that caught most of the main characters in some way.
I found this a fascinating read that crawled under my skin – I’m sure it will be one of those that stays with me and the only reason it isn’t getting a solid 10 from me, is that I did find myself skimming some of the myths, particularly at the beginning. Highly recommended for fans of the Lady Trent Memoirs series. 9/10
I thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of Isabella's granddaughter, following her illustrious ancestor in researching the past of the Draconean people. Getting into deep water is a trait of the Camhurst/Trent family and Audrey is no exception. It is so nice to pick up a book in a series and not be hassled by explanations of what happened in previous books as so many authors seem to do and which spoils my enjoyment.
An excellent read from one of my favourite authors about one the best fictional worlds that have been created. Great to see the next generation of Lady Trent’s family adventures, and hopefully look forward to reading more about Audrey.
I love the Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan. They're unique, beautifully written, feature a strong and practical heroine, and there is not a word of the narrative wasted. I've read them all at least three times and they are a strong contender for my favorite series ever.
That said... This sequel is not up to snuff. Perhaps it was a function of writing in the shadow of her own success, perhaps the epistolary style robbed the narrative of the appropriate action and urgency, but the character of Audrey was not especially compelling, and there were times that I was simply bored. The major conflict of the narrative is especially relevant to the times - independent parties falsifying documents to affect political change in the direction of a repressive agenda - and there is ample material to work with in the scope of Brennan's established Scirland in the wake of an industrial revolution, but the telling fell far short of expectation. It was lack-luster and abstracted by a "scholar's" interests.
I still have hope for future volumes - Brennan's world is as vast and interesting as the world its based on, and in her previous works she rendered the scholarly abstract powerfully relevant to everyday life, but this first installment was a bit of a miss.
Having devoured the five earlier books in Brennan's dragon series, I was ready for more of the same: a strong female lead (and scientist at that), lots of Indiana Jones-ing around, and plenty of adventure. I pretty much got what I was looking for - except the adventure is of more academic sort. Really, chasing lost knowledge has a thrill of its own, as intense as chasing creatures if not as outwardly dramatic. It came as no surprise that Brennan spent time in academia (I had guessed as much, and the bio blurb in the back confirmed it), and captured much of its motivating energy quite well.
Perhaps translations of ancient texts don't thrill you, but the human environment around it might. The protagonist's work, colleagues, and friends faced racism of violent kinds, abuse of their research for unethical ends, misrepresentation in the popular press, isolation, sexism, the race to publish, and lots more - research, even relatively pure research, is a human endeavor after all, and can face all the worst in humans. Forged documents and antiquities might be the least of it. (A few things, including racism and immigration issues for researchers have very current feel.)
If you expected Lady Trent's grand-daughter to follow in her foot-steps - well mostly. But her grand-daughter's foot-steps are her own, so this is a very different story. It took me a bit by surprise, but the surprise was a happy one.
Turning Darkness Into Light tells the story of Lady Trent’s granddaughter, Audrey Camherst, a philologist studying the clay tablets left behind by the ancient Draconeans. When she is recruited to translate a recently discovered cache of ancient tablets by Lord Gleinleigh, a collector of antiquities and the discoverer of the tablets (and a rather unpleasant fellow), she takes the job against her better judgment: Lord Gleinliegh’s restrictions seem unreasonable and his estate is isolated and unwelcoming. But the lure of previously undeciphered tablets is too much to resist. The project leads Audrey and her allies into misadventure, danger, conspiracy, and revelation.
If you haven’t read the five books of Lady Trent’s memoirs, Turning Darkness Into Light will probably be wildly confusing, not to mention that it is full of spoilers for the earlier books (which is why I’m not going into more detail here). If you have read the series, this book provides many answers to “so what happened next?”
Turning Darkness Into Light is an epistolary novel (something I love), told in the form of diary entries, letters, translations of the tablets, occasional newspaper clippings, and even a couple of police reports. Most of the story is told from Audrey’s point of view, but quite a variety of other characters have a chance to chime in, including Lady Trent herself.
As another reviewer has noted, Audrey Camherst is not Isabella (Lady Trent, her grandmother), but she's just as facinating. She does this by (in Lady Trent's words) "being yourself as wholeheartedly as I have been myself." Her intellectual passions are different, but just as strong, and she's perfectly suited to explore the new world that Lady Trent's discoveries created. This book stands well on its own, but it expands on one of the finest examples of world-building I've ever seen -- read the earlier books first to get the full effect.
The beginning was starts and stops and trying to wrap my head around the various narratives. By the end I couldn't put the book down. I've been a Marie Brennan fan since Warrior and Witch...but TDIL is far and away my favorite to date. I absolutely love the "coming of age" doubts Audrey and Kudshayn have and the realizations they ultimately arrive at. The characters motivations and flaws feel very real and I (obviously) enjoyed sharing their journey.