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A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by…

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent

by Marie Brennan

Other authors: Rhys Davies (Maps), Todd Lockwood (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lady Trent's Memoirs (1)

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1,252769,212 (3.83)178

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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Isabella, Lady Trent, is now the world's most famous dragon naturalist, by she was once a young girl in a land called Scirland, like and unlike our own Regency England, with an interest in dragons considered distinctly unladylike. But when it comes time for her to marry, her loving and indulgent father helps her find a husband who shares her interest in dragons and will be equally indulgent in letting her share the use of his library.

He did not expect that, after two years of marriage, Isabella and Jacob would join an expedition to study dragons in Vystrana.

What neither she, nor Jacob, nor Lord Hilford, expects is that she will do more than draw sketches of the the dragons and file the men's notes.

The story is told as the now-elderly Lady Trent's memoir of the first expedition that was the start of her scientific career, making breakthroughs not just in natural history but in what women were allowed to do.

I really enjoyed this. Isabella's developing interests, struggles against restraints and expectations, and blossoming as a young scientist are all very well down, and her voice is very convincing. Brennan avoids a mistake that many writers make, in that her back history of a world with actual dragons is, while recognizably our planet, not at all our history. Scirland has a fair amount in common with our England, but isn't our England. A country that isn't a Russia we'd recognize is ruled by a Tsar, but the people filling recognizably familiar roles, are not people we know from history, renamed or not. Altogether, it gives this fantasy world a greater sense of reality.

Recommended. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
A Natural History of Dragons is the first book in the five-book fantasy series, The Memoirs of Lady Trent. I thought this was a (mostly) light and fun read. Aside from the existence of dragons, it actually didn’t feel much like a fantasy book. I wouldn’t consider it to be YA, but it frequently reminded me of the types of books I enjoyed as a child which often featured a plucky, unconventional young woman in a historical setting going off to do something people didn’t approve of and having various adventures.

The story is told in the first person, as a memoir being written by Isabella as an older woman. The setting is in a fictional world, but it feels Victorian. Dragons exist in this world, but not much is known about them during the time when Isabella is growing up. She is fascinated with them and wants to study them, but such behavior is unthinkable for a woman of her era. This book details the first dragon expedition she gets to go on, after starting off with some relevant snippets from her earlier years.

There are some mysteries in the story, but this was mostly a light and straight-forward read with a lot of charm. It’s kind of a relaxing read in a way, although there is one very sad (if easily predicted) part toward the end. Otherwise, most of it was pretty light-hearted and cheerful. One thing I really liked was the way Isabella and her husband’s relationship was portrayed. I liked that this book didn’t have any stereotypical, angsty romance and actually depicted a marriage between two people who got along well and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a nice change. Of course, this means the husband had to die. We can’t have too much happy marriage nonsense in a series for goodness’ sake! (I’m being sarcastic, of course.) It wasn’t a surprise, though. The series title made it seem likely if nothing else, and there was also some foreshadowing.

I’m not necessarily the best person to advise on whether a book is a “clean” book, but I think this book would qualify and might appeal to people looking for that. Isabella’s fictional editor is horrified by her choice to use the word “breasts” at one point, so I guess her fictional editor kept things pretty well toned down. :) I also think this would appeal to people who aren’t too crazy for fantasy, if the other aspects of the story sound appealing. There are really very few fantasy elements. The dragons could just as well be some other fascinating animal of interest. This may change in the future books as I suspect (I’m not sure if this is a spoiler or not, since it’s only a suspicion) the dragons will prove to be sentient, which I think would help it feel more like a fantasy story to me.

I enjoyed this enough that I plan to continue the series, and I have book two queued up and ready to go on my Kindle. ( )
1 vote YouKneeK | Sep 1, 2018 |
I haven't actually read this book yet, but I'd just like to put a word in for the covers. I love the creamy covers (published by Titan) illustrated by Todd Lockwood; I like the scientific-looking annotated drawing/ diagram of a dragon and the way the spines, when put in order, seem to form a dragon. As my dragon is missing a head, however, I wonder if there are more books to come?
  humouress | Aug 25, 2018 |

Young gentlewoman in vaguely Victorian world goes off to become an explorer to find out more about dragons, challenging convention as she does. Nicely worked out world with linguistic variety and politics and economics. Not so totally convinced by the emotional dynamics of the protagonist. ( )
  nwhyte | Aug 23, 2018 |
I found the start a bit slow, with the narrator's childhood, but it picked up as it got to the main plot, and by the end I was interested in reading the rest of the series. Interesting world-building, and a strong narrative voice. ( )
  teknognome | Jul 12, 2018 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marie Brennanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davies, RhysMapssecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lockwood, ToddIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collins, GregDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lockwood, ToddCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reading, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Not a day goes by that the post does not bring me at least one letter from a young person (or sometimes one not so young) who wishes to follow in my footsteps and become a dragon naturalist.

When I was seven, I found a sparkling lying dead on a bench at the edge of the woods which formed the back boundary of our garden, that the groundskeeper had not yet cleared away.
I had just discovered the wishbone when I heard a shout behind me, and turned to see a stableboy staring at me in horror.

While he bolted off, I began frantically trying to cover my mess, dragging hay over the disembodied body of the dove, but so distressed was I that the main result was to make myself look even worse than before. By the time Mama arrived on the scene, I was covered in blood and bits of dove-flesh, feathers and hay, and more than a few tears.
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Isabella, Lady Trent, known as the world's preeminent dragon naturalist, writes her memoir detailing 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 dragon discoveries that would change the world forever.… (more)

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