A Natural History of Dragons : Marie Brennan

Book review for : A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent
Author : Marie Brennan
Rating : 5 stars
Series : The Lady Trent Memoirs book 1

Tsk, Not Enough About Dragons… But it was fun anyway

This is a quick, light read. For whatever reason, I thought it was going to be in the style of a… well, a natural history book. I knew it was fiction, but I expected more of a scientific approach. After I got over that initial disappointment, I quite enjoyed the story.

Isabella is not interested in a life of Society as a proper young woman. She wants to study how things work, in particular winged things, in particular dragons. In this world, dragons are another species of animal with their own varieties, and it will take several books to detail her journeys into exploration.

Dragons are fun. The story is entertaining. The writing is clean and fast-paced. Part of the style is an abundance of blatant overshadowing, i.e. ‘but I wouldn’t understand just how dangerous that was until later’ (I paraphrase). I quiet enjoy that, as the character is writing her memoirs from the future anyway, so there are certain things you know based on that. And it keeps up the anticipation for what might happen later in the book, or in a later volume of her memoirs.

A Natural History of Dragons is a light blend of science, politics, romance, economics, and history, without getting too serious into any. I’ve read the second book, and am about to read the third, and thus far there has been no blatant preaching or exact parallel with real-world issues. There are similarities, sure, but Isabella’s world has its own issues, and she deals with them fairly well. Or poorly. The character is not omnipotent, and she doesn’t try to solve every problem—she really just cares about dragons.

Isabella herself is a fun character to read. She’s smart but not unbelievably so, and makes plenty of mistakes. We get to see her discovering a lot about herself, and the people around her. The people around her are also good characters. There are a couple key people who continue through the books, then there are the 1-book-wonders. These short-term characters worked very well, because the author does not try to give them too much dimension. They have a flavor to them as Isabella sees them, and we don’t get too much more involved than that.

There is one instance in the plot I found weak. A person gets gravely injured, and instead of fighting for their position where they are (which I don’t see why they couldn’t have done)—they don’t even discuss doing so—instead they choose to run… with that injured person. This has future ramifications and I felt such a plot point should not be built upon such non-existant reasoning. Now, Isabella is careless and often makes decisions that, in retrospect, were perhaps not that great, and I enjoy that aspect of her character (it’s realistic and informative), but this was an instance apart from that.

That bothersome thing aside, I give this book full marks for entertainment. I’m going to read the rest of the series before the month is out!

 

Review also posted on Amazon. 

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