Review: ‘A Natural History of Dragons’ by Marie Brennan

After reading A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (and the books that follow) I think I might be a fan of the travel memoir, although it’s unlikely that I will find many others that merge my appreciation for mythological creatures and alternate-history/steampunk so neatly. I guess I’ll just have to hope for more adventures from Lady Trent to satisfy my new-found obsession.

Synopsis: Well-bred women should not be fascinated with dragons, or wish to travel the world in hopes of studying them, but Isabella Trent has never been not an average girl. This memoir documents the early days of her interest with dragons, her first expedition to study the rock-wyrms of Vystrana, and the dangers and discoveries she found while she was there.

After reading a few Goodreads reviews I was worried that I would be disappointed with this book, but the cover and the premise really called to me so I decided to try it anyway. After reading a few chapters I knew I was going to read this entire series, and will likely re-read it many times over in the future. The common issue that people had with the books is that they focus more on the study of dragons, and aren’t as action-packed as many fantasy novels tend to be. Oddly enough, these are the exact reasons I love the books, because they were something new and different for the genre. I’m a huge fan of alternate-history, and this is basically set in a world much like Victorian England but with dragons. Just as Darwin studied finches in our reality, Isabella studies the many varieties of dragons and dragon-like creatures that inhabit her world.

“The dragon within my heart stirred, shifting her wings, as if remembering they could be used to fly.”

― Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons

There are so many great things about these books, but I think my favourite part is Isabella herself. From the very beginning we know that after many years she has become a well-respected and famous natural historian, but the evolution of her character is what I found most interesting. I’m desperate to know her future stories so the mystery of how she becomes Lady Trent is finally solved for me! The other, and likely more understandable favourite part, are the illustrations in the books. They are amazing, and yet I’m sure that my ebook versions do them no justice. It’s very likely that I’ll end up buying physical versions of the entire series just because I love the art so much.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rating: (awesome series, will be reading again)

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