Title / A Natural History of Dragons
Author / Marie Brennan
Publication Date / 2014
Page no. / 334
Series or standalone / Book 1 of the Memoirs of Lady Trent series
Overall Star Rating / ★★★★
Goodreads synopsis: 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.
I’ve had this on my radar for quite some time but I recently saw it in a book store and decided to finally pick it up. I’m very glad that I have now finally read it. Although quite different to a lot of the fantasy books that I read, this was a very enjoyable read. Firstly I think the world was very well written. This world is heavily based around the Victorian period, just with dragons. It’s quite a unique world, in terms of the fantasy that I read, and I really appreciated that. Basically I thought this world was great and I’m interested to see more of it in the later books. Despite the sometimes slower pacing, the plot is compelling throughout. It isn’t a fast paced, action packed fantasy but I really enjoyed that about this book. It focuses more on the characters and their interest in dragons, making it quite a meandering plot line. However this slow pacing and lack of action will not be to everyone’s taste so it may be something to keep in mind. Personally I found it to be a nice change of pace. I liked that this book is full of discovery and mystery, which was a nice surprise, and I found the sections about the dragons to be really interesting. The pacing and the plotting makes it easy to become absorbed into the story and the characters.
The characters are another strength of this book. I thought all of them were so well written and I loved Isabella as a main character. She’s quite relatable in many ways and her development through the book was really well done. I did think that some of the secondary characters fell a little flat and could have done with more depth. I did still enjoy these characters but I just felt that there was a lack of development for some. I think because this book is told from Isabella’s perspective (1st person narrative) so the focus is very much on her, instead of say a 3rd person narrator who would be able to give a wider look into all of the characters. Having said that, I very much enjoyed Isabella’s perspective and think it works really well with the story, but it does mean that Isabella is a more fleshed out character when compared with others. I found it so easy to get into the flow of her story and was invested in her character from early on. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy the narrative when I first picked this up but I actually really enjoyed it.
Overall I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this series and I’m glad that I finally read it. I loved the setting and I’m excited to see how it will continue on in the next books. I definitely plan to continue on with this series. If you are looking for a fantasy book with a slow but compelling plot and you like dragons then I would recommend checking this series out. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.