Feb 14, 2013

Book Review: 'A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent' by Marie Brennan

Book Cover: A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

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

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Format: Ebook, 336 pages
Published On: February 5, 2013 by Tor Books
Source: Requested for review via NetGalley.

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Laboratory by Todd Lockwood

A Natural History of Dragons is a fictional memoir of a famous dragon naturalist Lady Isabella Trent, set in a country similar to 19th century England with one distinct difference - in the world Marie Brennan invented dragons exist. Lady Trent describes to us her childhood, what sparked her interest in dragons and her first expedition.

Although I liked Marie Brennan's writing style (which I found similar to the novels of sisters Bronte), the same is not true for personality of Lady Isabella - her tone was condescending, patronizing and too full of self-importance. Isabella admits that she was often accused of being unemotional and explains that with having rational, scientific mind, but I think she took a role of detached quirky scientist to an extreme.

Lady Trent announced in introduction:

"Be warned, then: the collected volumes of this series will contain frozen mountains, fetid swamps, hostile foreigners, hostile fellow countrymen, the occasional hostile family member, bad decisions, misadventures in orienteering, diseases of an unromantic sort, and a plenitude of mud. You continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. "

Sparked by this promise and word 'dragons' in book title, I was expecting a lot of breath-taking adventures and kick-ass heroine, female version of Indiana Jones. Sadly, this is not what A Natural History of Dragons is about. The study of dragons is full of problems that most of the time have nothing to do with dragons. Going to the reclusive secluded village in the mountains on an expedition and looking for dragons in the unfriendly landscape is certainly adventure for a gently-bred lady but for a fantasy-loving bookworm that devoured Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight - well, not so much.

Fairies by Anna Stokes
Wolf Drake, Desert Drake & Zhagrit Mat by Todd Lockwood

The best part of A Natural History of Dragons to me were wonderful illustrations by Todd Lockwood. Lady Trent hinted a couple of times that there will be future volumes of her memoirs and although I did not enjoy this particular volume very much, I may read the next book in series when it is published. I liked Marie Brennan's writing style and I will give her another chance. Also admiring more beautiful pictures by Todd Lockwood is a bonus. ;)

My Rating: 3 out of 5

I recommend this book to fans of: fictional (or real) historical memoirs about female scientist that are ahead of their time or to dragons lovers who will be content that dragons are only side characters in the story and not much smarter than any other wild animal.

Let's Talk:

Did you read A Natural History of Dragons? Did you like it? Have you read something else written by Marie Brennan?

Any other thoughts or comments?

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