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Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 9, 2020
4.5 stars

One benefit of being an old woman now, and moreover one who has been called a "national treasure," is that there are very few who can tell me what I may and may not
Ever since she was a child, Isabella was obsessed, absolutely obsessed, with dragons.

She would spent long hours curled up with her favorite book, A Natural History of Dragons and for a while, she was indulged by her father...but unfortunately that could not last.
No gentleman would want a wife covered in scars from misadventures with dangerous beasts.
Nowadays she's known as Lady Trent, a world renowned Dragonologist, but she wasn't always quite so well-known...or even well-liked.

During her early adulthood, all she could think of was finding a husband who would allow her to continue reading.
"You want me for my library."
And so she marries Jacob, someone who respected her eccentricities, but the newlyweds soon realize life isn't as simple as expected.

A miscarriage and a deep depression results in Isabella realizing that she cannot - will not - ever become the perfect English wife.
"I don't need luxury, Jacob; I don't need pampering."
And so she secures a position for herself and her husband to participate in an exhibition to far off lands, Vystrana, to study the elusive and mysterious rock-wyrm.
But as so often happened during this exhibition, nothing went as planned.
She is about to discover a whole new world - and change her own forever.

Oh my gosh. I LOVED this one.

Also - I have a confession to make.

Some girls were obsessed with horses...I was a dragon girl. Drawing, reading and dreaming - all dragons all the time.

And this book fulfilled every childhood dream I had. (It was honestly such a blow to realize that dragons didn't exist.)

This book was so well done. I loved how seriously it took the subject and how firmly grounded the dragon-based world was.
Sheep eat grass, wolves eat deer, dragons eat everything that doesn't run away fast enough.
The only thing that bugged me was that there was a little less dragons and a little more politics than I expected.

I did love watching Isabella grow from a timid girl shaped by her times into a strong woman intent on making a life for herself...I just wanted more page time with the dragons.

Though...that ending was a bit of a shock to the system. Bit of a jump into an icy lake.

In other words, I did NOT appreciate the way the ending wrapped up.

I honestly cannot imagine where the book is going next.

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Profile Image for Christopher Paolini.
Author 84 books36.2k followers
February 9, 2018
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan, is a superb novel in every regard. It's a classic, first-person adventure full of travel, science, and of course, dragons. The writing is clean, concise, and well-assured. The characters are interesting—especially the main one, Isabella. The plotting is clockwork-tight. And the worldbuilding is a masterpiece of sophisticated evocation. It's clear that Brennan has put an enormous amount of thought and research into her craft. From a professional standpoint, I was highly impressed by this book. From a reader's standpoint, I had an absolute blast, and I can't wait to dive into the sequels. Based on this book alone, I place Marie Brennan in the top flight of sci-fi/fantasy authors.
Profile Image for seak.
434 reviews473 followers
January 20, 2013
It turns out, and I wouldn't have discovered this without reading A Natural History of Dragons, that I really like dragons slaying, riding, attacking, hoarding, speaking, snoozing, probably even over-easy ... but to witness them studied for science bored me to death.

I feel really bad about this, because there are some great things about this book, I just couldn't wait for it to be over.

A Natural History of Dragons is a memoir of the life of the famous Lady Trent, who tells about her first interest in dragons and some of her early experiences with them.

The Good
Brennan does a great job sticking to character. The Lady Trent, or just Isabella Camherst as she's known throughout the book, is a woman of science and Brennan very convincingly characterizes her as such. She's so brimming with eagerness to study and learn and discover and it's apparent in both the beginning of her life and her characterization later in life that we only get through the actual telling.

This Victorian era-type place is brought to life with all its sensibilities, especially those that go against a budding young naturalist who is a woman and her constant battle with all those inherent sensibilities. Then she adds dragons to this era! Very cool. Especially since they're all over, from the tiny sparklings that are considered to be insects by many to much larger ones.

And then there's the beautiful artwork by Todd Lockwood. Not only do we get this gorgeous cover, but there are dragons (among other things) depicted throughout the book that are just as captivating.

(I realize the book cover's in the upper left, but this bears repeating!)

The Bad
The problem is that with the over-intrusion of the narrator, Lady Trent, and possibly with the addition of the aristocracy's confidence in their own imperviousness, there really isn't a lot of suspense. Possibly at the very end at one single moment, but that's it. We already know she's fine, she's telling the story and interjecting points about how young and naive she used to be. Now, you can say this about most first-person narratives, but this was even more obvious.

The characters are just not relatable to me. I mentioned above that Brennan nailed the era, but these are high class people that can't even go anywhere without a servant of some sort. I just couldn't love them and I'll take responsibility for this - I know plenty of people love it, but it did not work for me.

It took me a while to figure this out, but it sounds like we're going to get through her whole life in this one book, when really it's only the first couple experiences. Therefore, it seemed to drag on (dragon, get it) this one event. The Lady Trent alludes to many experiences, especially early on, and it sounds like those are all going to happen in this book, but it took me till about 50% in to figure out that it was mainly focused on this one event and that was it. This also could have just been my lack of awareness about sequels because I thought this was a stand-alone book.

In the end, I really do think the problems were mostly just me. A Natural History of Dragons is a well-executed story that I found was just not for me.

2 out of 5 Stars (Just Okay)
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
March 9, 2016
I like books about people who like books. Perhaps it’s because it immediately allows me to sympathise with the protagonist as a bond of kinship is created. Or perhaps it’s because reading about books is a double winner. Well, either way it creates a novel that is easy to relate to and easy to become engrossed in.

A well created discipline

This is not a standard novel; it is in the form of a memoir of sorts. Lady Trent is writing, what is essentially, her life story. She is now an aged and accredited dragon naturalist without equal; it took her years to become this successful; thus, she narrates the story of how she struggled to become recognised and taken with a degree of seriousness. It began when she stumbled on a book about dragons in her father’s library. She is a woman, and considered a part of the nobility because she is the daughter of a knight. Consequently, society has two reasons to consider her choice of profession inappropriate. As true as that may be to these chracters, it would never stop her perusing her interest.

"Be warned, then: the collected volumes of this series will contain frozen mountains, foetid 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."

This, for me, made the story quite strong. She is looking back on the timidity of her youth with a voice of frankness and wisdom. She has overcome her trials and has been recognised academically. She is a strong woman; she can now see the absurdity of the gender restrictions she was forced to endure; she has developed the confidence to question the ridiculousness of it, and at the same time has captured the essence of her naïve young self. The effect of this was a memoir that felt real; it felt like I’d picked this up from someone’s shelf in a fantasy universe.

Eventually it became a little dry

The older narrator is a developed naturalist; she has gone on to achieve progress in her discipline. This is all well and good, but eventually I began to grow a little tired of her narrative. I felt because of the memoir style of the writing some of the chapters didn’t link together particularly well. This didn’t have the flow of a normal novel, and at times I had to glance back at pervious chapters to remind myself of what had happened. In addition to this, at times it felt like she was repeating herself, and her justification for killing a dragon was also plain weak. In it she suggested the hypocrisy of dragon rights activists; they argue that hunting dragons is wrong but it’s ok to kill other creatures in the same way. That’s true: it is hypocrisy. But, that doesn’t justify her argument. She basically says because other people do it, it is then ok for her to do the same. This part of the memoir should have been left out in my opinion because it made Lady Trent look like an idiot, which she is most definitely is not.

Overall, I think this book was a really good idea but the execution of it was lacking. I will be avoiding the rest in the serious because, no doubt, I will find them growing tedious on me. I would, however, recommend this to fans of Robin Hobb because Lady Trent reminded me of the dragon obsessed lady in the rain wild chronicles. I’m sure this is merely coincidence, but if you liked that character Lady Trent is very much the same.

A natural three stars

Profile Image for Emma.
2,512 reviews857 followers
February 6, 2017
This was a pleasant enough read. It was really a story about a feisty young Victorian woman than it was about dragons though. You could just have easily had the same story, but with lions or bears for example. I'm glad I finally got round to this book-one of those that I have been meaning to try for a long while. Would I continue the series? Maybe as a filler....
Profile Image for Sanaa.
413 reviews2,552 followers
August 18, 2015
[5 Stars] I loved this book. I knew I loved this book after reading only two pages of it. I'm finding it difficult to say anything right now because I loved it that much. This series may even become an all time favorite if each book is as good or better than this one.

Though this book is called A Natural History of Dragons it is really more about Lady Trent and how she initially became interested in dragons and also her experience on her first dragon studying expedition. This book also deals with the struggles Lady Trent has to deal with because she is a female in a society that looks down on particularly headstrong women. I loved how this almost Victorian England setting interacts with the fantasy/scientific world of dragons and Lady Trent's almost coming of age story.

I loved the way this book was written: the humor, the spunk, the romance, the science, everything. If there was a book that appealed specifically to my taste this would be the one. Lady Trent is literally my kind of lady. Oh, and did I mentioned there are gorgeous illustrations throughout?! The one thing I will say that is disappointing is the lack of development for the side characters. They often felt bland.

Overall, if you love fantasy of manners, smart spunky female protagonists, slower fantasy books without many dragons, and brilliant writing this one is definitely for you.
Profile Image for Lisann.
127 reviews130 followers
December 10, 2021
“The dragon within my heart stirred, shifting her wings, as if remembering they could be used to fly.”

A Natural History of Dragons is not a classic fantasy story. It reads more like a historical fiction novel in which dragons are a rare animal species. They have yet to be explored and that's exactly what our protagonist wants. The only problem is her own gender! Isabella is a woman and society doesn't even allow her to wear pants, so how could she become a scientist?

In this series she tells how exactly she became a renowned dragon naturalist. The first book focuses on the beginning of her career. As a result, the role of the woman is often depicted here and how difficult it is for Isabella to hide her passion for the anatomy and behaviour of dragons. I found this part very difficult to read in the long run because I still get upset about how bad it must have been back then. See? Historical fiction!
“Be warned, then: the collected volumes of this series will contain frozen mountains, foetid 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.”

Unfortunately I expected a bit more from this story. As the book progresses, the focus is more on the problems with villagers and their superstitions. There are problems that seem to be of supernatural origin, but I have to disappoint you here. As mentioned at the beginning, the fantasy part of this book is limited to the existence of dragons. Here you won't find any magic, mythical creatures or other things that would be different from our real world. Now one could of course hope that there is at least a bunch of interactions with dragons, but most take place when they're already dead and dissected to explore their anatomy.


All in all it was a nice story for in between, but I probably won't continue the series, because the reviews of the second book confirmed my opinion and the focus of the book shifts even further away from the dragons and more to political topics.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,109 followers
February 19, 2020
I think I'm in love with this book. No... I know it. :)

I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't a call-back to the early days of science when the practitioners called themselves Naturalists, being well-funded amateurs and Lords (Or Ladies!) striking out into the wide world for the simple pleasure of learning, discovery, and adventure.

Maybe I should have expected that. But then, maybe I shouldn't have expected it to be charming, totally delightful, emotionally rewarding, smart, and witty... but then, I did get that, too.

But the real kicker? I was caught and dipped in vinegar the very moment that we began wondering whether dragons had wishbones. The total love of books, the frustration that women with talent and drive always experience when they're told they're not allowed in certain fields, and the utter DEMAND one puts on oneself to succeed at all costs... well, THIS is what preserved me.

Great observations, charmingly told, this is almost like Indiana Jones with Dragons as written by a wonderfully quirky woman with a sharp eye. I can't recommend this enough.
July 15, 2019
“The dragon within my heart stirred, shifting her wings, as if remembering they could be used to fly.”


Before starting this book I've been warned by many people: "A Natural History of dragons is not a book about dragons"; which is, on one hand, correct. This fictional memoir follows the life and adventures of Lady Isabella Trent, a woman who, despite her gender and upbringing, became the most influential expert on dragons of her time. In truth, this book focuses so much on her life and her recalling of the events that the presence of dragons as the subject of her studies, appears, on one hand, to be marginal. On the other hand, even if it was true that Lady Trent's expeditions could have been about any other wild animal, or even just explorations of the wilderness, the fact that the animal in question is a dragon, makes it 200% cooler.


Indeed, my favourite feature in this book was the contrast between the old-fashioned, predictable character of Lady Trent (a strong, revolutionary woman of her time who challenges gender stereotypes with the ambition to become a scholar) and the subject of her studies. It felt like seeing Jane Eyre riding unicorns! I adored the choice of the author in creating this element of absurd, and I appreciated the fact that she didn't try to make Lady Trent different from exactly how you would imagine a character like herself in those situations. She is, of course, predictable and the other characters are as well; the story is predictable too, in a way; but, I mean, we're talking about dragons! I thought just the idea of this book was very clever.


Finally, the book itself is very entertaining, and I was very involved with the plot. Not so much with the characters, for whom I didn't really feel much affection... The cold, scientific way of writing of the fictional author might have been the main reason for that, but also a general coldness surrounding human relationships in those years. Overall, I found this book very interesting and I would love to go on with the series.
Profile Image for Trish.
2,020 reviews3,436 followers
April 22, 2020
By right, I should have loved and adored this. A regency-style world, very Austen-y, with a strong female lead and with the added spice of DRAGONS! Sadly, I'm not really all that charmed.

We have here the first volume in the "auto-biography" of Lady Trent, a scholar of dragons. In this first volume, we follow her childhood and teenage years until she gets married and a bit further.
She's always been a bit of a tomboy and a bookworm, to say nothing of her love for natural history. After finding a particular tome in her father's library, she loves nothing more than dragons (which I can relate to). For in this world, they aren't mythical creatures but wild animals!
One day, she meets the perfect husband, Jacob, gets married and even manages to talk him into taking her on an expedition (highly unusual for a woman back then).
Heartbreak and elation follow in equal measure as we accompany Lady Trent on her way to scholarly fame.

The idea of a book about the natural history of dragons fascinated me. I have always loved reading about naturalists such as Charles Darwin, Alexander von Humboldt and others and how they started or at least heavily influenced the scientific process culminating in what we know and do today, so the idea of a (fictional) female naturalist not giving a damn about convention and travelling the globe to study THE fantastical creatures invented by human minds, sounded wonderful.

Sadly, while the writing isn't bad and while the characters aren't terrible (though also far from lively and nuanced) and while the events are interesting enough, I was never sucked in the way I had anticipated/hoped and I just can't imagine reading 4 more books like this (albeit about other dragon species / exploits).
Makes me want to cry, really, but here we are. I am wondering if I'm just in a strange mood and if that might have influenced (marred) my enjoyment of this tale or if it was the fact that there were hardly any dragons here on top of my other complaints. Since I'm not entirely sure, I'm giving this 2.5 stars but rounding up.
Profile Image for Mimi.
699 reviews198 followers
June 7, 2017
A Lovely book and great summer read, but oh how I wish things had turned out differently...

Profile Image for Catinmybrain.
118 reviews27 followers
August 11, 2023
Everybody who knows me, knows I love a good giant monster story.

Everybody who knows me, also knows that I love a good classical romantic yarn.

Everybody who knows me, also knows that I love science books on strange subjects.

And finally I love good art books dealing with mythological creatures.

My heart is torn between Godzilla, Iris Murdoch, Wayne Barlowe and Oliver Sacks. And here with A Natural History of Dragons we have a bridge between all four types of books.

At last! My favourite food groups have come together into one wondrous, majestic, spicy, mysterious, frost-breathing pizza.

The story deals with a scientist named Lady Trent in her later years chronicling the origins of her life-long obsession with dragons (also known among the awesome and strange girls as the "cool unicorn"). Despite nearly being savaged by one at a tender young age, Lady Trent's infatuation with the many different flavours of mythological reptilian kings cannot be denied. She will not settle for ponies, stallions, British rock bands, chimera or zombies. She wants dragons. Fire-breathing, winged or otherwise, ugly, pretty, cave-dwelling, cursed demons, swamp living or insect sized spark-shooting hummingbird dragons. She wants the D. She will see the dragons, she will draw the dragons, she will study the dragons and damn it, she might even boop one of their snouts.

Do not get in Lady Trent's way when she's looking for dragons. For that path leads to much drama.

As Lady Trent gets older and gets married she sees an opportunity to finally go with her husband on a grand adventure to a distant country to see full-sized dragons. She manages to push her way into the group with promises of tea, book-keeping, drawings and guilt trips.

But as soon as the adventure starts, so does the mystery, as the group face their first dragon and a dawning realisation that something isn't right in giant reptile country. The dragons aren't just mad, they're pissed off and busting legs and tossing horses and killing dogs and tormenting villagers.

But why? Dragon rabies? Horny dragons? Cocaine? What is inspiring all this reptilian rage from these normally cold-blooded brutes? The secrets lie buried with the bones of dragons and in forbidden ruins, as science faces superstition, smugglers and Sulfuric acid. Where a hidden, terrible ambition has driven more than just the dragons mad, with promises of a new power and a resource that can change the world.

I've written before about giant monsters and how difficult it is to portray them correctly. Monsters are tricky. You can't normalise them too much and you can't hide them too much. You have to find that middle ground. And that middle ground is different for every monster and every writer. One approach does not suit all.

A Natural History of Dragons approaches its monsters in a way that's instantly authentic, accessible and relatable. There's a sense of wonder and awe-struck beauty and a driving, necessary, curiosity. The characters don't just meet dragons and go "Oh, okay there's a dragon". They want to, need to and are compelled to investigate and learn. And it is that exact compulsion to learn more and see more about the monsters that drives the plot. It allows the story to unravel in a way where you never quite feel the main character is in peril, but you're still captured in the mystery that is motivating their every action.

Everything in this book comes from a genuine place. It's well written and has smart pacing and plotting. I loved the fun romantic nature of its setting and how it struck such a contrast against many different adventure books and yet blended perfectly with the epic, giant monster story. A Natural History of Dragons shows the diversity and versatility of these kinds of stories and it's got beautiful art and compelling characters.

Yeah. I enjoyed it a great deal.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,635 followers
June 24, 2013
4.5 stars. Wow, I really liked this book -- everything from the story and the characters and the writing down to its stark yet elegant cover which first drew my eye to its spot sitting on a store bookshelf. I blame my background in the biological sciences, since it seems I can't help but be intrigued by anything that looks like it has anatomical drawings on it.

As indicated by its title, the novel is told in the form of a memoir from the venerable Lady Trent, leading research and expert on the matter of dragons. But in the time her story takes place, she was known simply as Isabella Camherst, a newly married 19-year-old lady of Scirland in a society where women were still mostly restricted from taking up the scholarly pursuits. This book is an account of how her love for dragons and science manifested at a very young age, and how a serendipitous opportunity to join an expedition to study dragons changed her life.

How interesting could this book be, I initially thought to myself. Is this whole thing going to be about some fictional old lady waxing nostalgic about her life researching dragons? I think a part of me expected nothing but a collection of anecdotes. I also might have had it in my head that this was going to read like a fantasy version of something like Jane Goodall's Through a Window, except with dragons instead of chimpanzees.

In the end, none of what I thought came even close, because there actually was a plot, and a pretty good one at that. I was surprised to see there was a thread of mystery woven into the story: something strange is afoot in the host village Isabella and her companions are staying in, and on top of that, the native species of rock-wyrm has become prone to attack humans, which isn't their usual behavior. These are the questions that Isabella has to answer while their expedition is in the Vystrani Mountains.

Of course, there ended up being the anecdotes I'd been expecting too, but they mostly came near the beginning. I didn't like these as much as I liked the main story about the expedition, but they did give pretty good insight into Isabella's character and personality. I didn't care much for some of her childhood experiences because often she came across as too much of a brat, but I did love the story of how she met her husband Jacob. It was such a sweet, awkwardly romantic scene that I swear my eyes practically started watering up along with Isabella's when she burst into tears of happiness.

My favorite thing about the book, however, was its overall concept. I didn't think I was going to take to the writing style, what with the stuffy narration from the get-go, but it actually came across in a very natural way that was nowhere near as distracting as I'd expected. What struck me is that you could also easily contrast the young, impetuous and excitable Isabella in the memoir to the older, more mellow and experienced Lady Trent who is "writing", and still get the sense she retained all that determination and humor in her personality. I thought it was a cool way of presenting the novel, and Marie Brennan pulled it off perfectly.

Also, I've seen fantasy deal with the subject of dragons in many ways; sometimes they're the monsters for the heroes to kill, sometimes they're intelligent and have the ability to speak, forming partnerships with humans or even taking human shape, etc. However, I personally liked how this book tackled the matter by painting dragons as simply another kind of wild animal species, as well as the main character's biologist/naturalist perspective to want to observe and study them. Like I said, perhaps it's due to my own educational history and interest, but this aspect of the book really appealed to me.

This was just a great read all around, the experience made even better for me because it was such an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. To summarize: A very good book featuring an interesting concept, engrossing plot, and a refreshingly strong female protagonist.

See more reviews at The BiblioSanctum
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books752 followers
December 10, 2019
This was quite enjoyable. Part Regency memoir, part travelogue, part adventure story, part cozy mystery, it was just pleasant.

CONTENT WARNINGS: (just a list of topics)

Things to love:

-The combination of archetypes. If you like flintlock fantasy AND Regency AND mysteries AND...all the rest, this is a must-read. I didn't think they'd all manage to blend as well as they did and I was quite impressed.

-Isabella. Plucky, flawed but earnest, and the walking embodiment of "I do what I want." Sometimes to a fault.

-The relationships. The parents, lovers, friends, colleagues, siblings...all of them felt so charming.

-The conceit. An older woman who broke barriers and is now doing her tell all on her career and life?? But that life is about being like the Jane Goodall meets Miss Phrynne Fisher of women, and the gorillas are instead dragons????? I keep coming back to the mash up! Someone mixed this just for me, I think.

-The tone. I really liked just putting this on and letting it lull me to sleep. Not because it was boring, but because it was just so pleasant, both in content and narration, that I could listen to it even when I was mentally and physically exhausted and be soothed.

-The ultimate ending. I liked that things were wrapped up, but not neatly, and that there's the promise of more without it feeling like a cliffhanger. Well done.

Things that hampered my reading:

-The casual racism. Look there are stereotypes in here, there's no avoiding it. They're secondary world, but they're very clearly based on certain cultures in our world and it was a bit weird that we needed that, given that it wasn't really our world, and that Isabella calls out her impolitic moments but not about these impressions she formed. So I'm left to believe the author didn't see an issue. This may have been compounded by the audio narrator's voice selection which was...pronounced. She's talented but it didn't help sand the rough edges off the prose.

-The mystery felt a bit tacked on. I don't even know how you go about combining all the things that got combined, and I think this was a great effort, but the seams show a bit. I got Scooby Doo flashes.

-Some nonsensical bits. Every time this woman wakes up without her husband staring at her full in the face, she's doing stupid shit. You'd think after the third or fourth time she manages to get kidnapped or haunted or whatever, she'd say to herself "you know what? Let me just wake Jacob, I shouldn't go alone as I always seem to stumble into cults or whatever." Same with a few other characters' responses.

-The end of the study. It just bummed me out when I didn't want to be bummed, I wanted to feel victorious.

Not perfect, but perfectly delightful. Absolutely adding this to my list of "more or less feel good as long as you squint" books. I will be continuing the series.
Profile Image for Sam.
236 reviews32 followers
May 5, 2017
It took me a long time to pick this up. I always loved the cover, but something about it kept me from thinking it was going to be up my alley. I was wrong and I’m glad I finally decided to give this one a chance. It probably turned into a 3.5 star book for me but I’m rounding up.

It’s definitely a different sort of book – it’s got a very Victorian feel. I guess this should be obvious given that’s the sort of setting the author is trying for, but sometimes that feels like a barrier from me connecting fully to the book. It’s almost as if the book begins to feel as prim and proper as the characters strive to be and that’s definitely not my personality. Plus this is less about dragons than I really thought it was going to be. Dragons are involved, but the book and the plot seem to swirl around them rather than getting involved too directly. I guess it’s just at odds with most fantasy books where the dragons can talk, or at the very least, have a larger than life presence. Not to say that I didn’t like this take on them, it’s just different from what I’ve come to known of dragons.

Lady Trent is a fun protagonist. She had a bit of the cliché “Victorian girl who’s not quite like the others” aka she’s smart, plucky, and wants to be a badass in a man’s world. It’s not a bad cliché but just sort of obvious. I did like that she makes mistakes and acknowledges them. The rest of the characters are a bit flat for me. It’ll be interesting if they re-appear in sequels. Hopefully if they do some depth gets added as I don’t really think any of them added much to the story.

The plot does meander a bit. It’s a bit of an origin story before we get anywhere near what seems to be the core of this book and the formula for the books going forward. It’s not terrible but a bit much of the plucky girl turns plucky woman which we’ve all read before. The core of the book has a bit of a mystery thrown in. It felt a tad underdone and I think just too much time was spent on the origin story to have time to fully dive into a mystery. But the book is pretty short so I think it was well-done for the amount of pages given to it.

All-in-all I’d recommend this book. I’m definitely going to continue on in the series. It’s fun and quite easy to read. Hopefully they get even better.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,564 reviews2,937 followers
April 30, 2016
Genuinely I loved this. I picked this up at long last at what I felt was the perfect time. not only had two of my great friends been recently discussing it and saying how much they enjoyed it (Paul and Elizabeth) but they also mentioned the focus on anatomy and science and drawing of Dragons. I've owned this book for literally years now, and I felt like it was about time I got to reading it. I'm so glad that the time I chose to start it was also the time when I was involved in drawing Dinosaur anatomy for University, as Dinos and Dragons are not too far removed and the blend of book and project helped me to fully immerse myself within this world :)

This story follows the early life of Lady Trent who we know as Isabella. She's a young lady with a dangerous passion: Dragons. In this world Dragons are rare, but not uncommon in some areas of the world. Isabella has always had a passion for the majestic beasts, and she's made a habit of 'borrowing' books on the subject from her father and sneaking in to see the beasts if ever an opportunity arises. We follow, in Lady Trent's own words, her childhood and early adult life including her first excursion to discover more about the creatures and also get involved in the mysteries of life abroad. The adventure is real and raw, and filled with dangers no-one foresaw, but she and her friends are resourceful.

The pacing and plotting of this book are fantastic allowing the reader to follow easily and yet be drawn in. The very British sensibilities make this a wonderfully amusing read at times too, and seeing Lady Trent face the difficulties of being a woman in a man's world really worked. Isabella is lucky enough to be surrounded by men who are more free with her than most would be, and so she enjoys things rather unladylike. I loved seeing the adventurous explorer and researcher within the prim and proper facade!

This book made me laugh and smile, chuckle and roll my eyes and even get a little bit emotional too. I would recommend this to fans of Gail Carriger's books as I think that they have a similar feel, even if it's rather more focused on Dragons than Vamps/Werewolves. A splendid read, 5*s, and I already have book #2 waiting for me to dive into it :)
Profile Image for Rob.
853 reviews540 followers
August 1, 2016
Executive Summary: The book has surprisingly few dragons in it for being in the title of the book. It's still a decent book, but I found myself underwhelmed by the end of it.

Full Review
I was hesitant to read this book when it was announced as the December pick for Sword & Laser. I like dragons, but the concept of this book made me apprehensive.

I ended up really enjoying the start of this book though. It really appealed to my inner scientist that wants to categorize things and understand how they work.

The main character of Lady Trent is well written. You can tell the difference of her as a girl/young woman and the elderly "I don't give a damn" renowned scholar. The humor while not abundant was pretty good.

I'm not sure if I was expecting a series of stories about her time as a dragon naturalist exactly, but I wasn't expecting so much of her time courting her husband and her early life struggling with her interests in Natural History and science in a society where it's not proper for woman to do so.

I expected a lot more dragons stuff. Even if it was time spent analzing and discovering things about dragons. There was certainly some of that, but it was more of a backdrop to the story of Lady Trent's early life.

This feels like the first book in a series, and maybe later stories will include a lot more about her life as a Dragon Naturalist. This just felt like too much setup for me.

It ends in a decent enough place and is well written, but it just wasn't really for me. At this point I don't plan on continuing the series (if it does indeed turn into one), but I imagine people who really enjoy Lady Trent, might thoroughly enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Kaora.
585 reviews282 followers
August 12, 2014
I feel like this book is named incorrectly. A Natural History of Dragons? While it is a memoir of Lady Trent dragons hardly play into it. I was thinking that this might be a book much like The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Spencer Black, but perhaps a bit less mad scientist and more dragon biology.

I was disappointed.

Lady Trent is a woman born in the time where women are expected to attend and host dinner events, not to read books. But after developing a passion for books and dragons at a young age, she is lucky enough to find a man that allows her to accompany him on an expedition to Vystrana to study rock wyrms.

While I liked that Lady Trent is a fine example of a woman that broke society's norms and dared to push the boundaries of what was acceptable, I found her immature, and while highly intelligent she lacked common sense. I suppose she is 19 so I cut her some slack but there is only so many chances. She constantly threw herself into dangerous situations without thinking but somehow managed to emerge unscathed, although those around her were not always so lucky.

The men in this book contributed nothing, and while they are also there to study dragons, do not actually produce any original idea or thought that contributes to the story. It seems that Lady Trent with all her recklessness is the only one that is able to produce any kind of hypothesis or evidence. I guess this is a refreshing change, it would have been more believable to have men that actually looked at the evidence they collected.

Another issue I had with this book is that there was no actual science!

In lands where wolf-drakes are still numerous, it is common knowledge that they prefer female prey.

While it is clear that certain animals can tell the difference between males/females, I don't know if there are any actual examples of animals that prefer female prey. While I know I am arguing the biology of a fictional creature, I would like to know what evolutionary advantage there is to eating female prey? Are they softer and more tasty? Easier to catch as babies slow them down? Does the hip width promote easier snacking?

To someone who finds Biology fascinating, I was extremely disappointed that I didn't really actually learn anything useful or interesting about "dragons".

But on the plus side the drawings were great so I'll give it an extra half star.

2.5 Stars
Profile Image for Lea.
473 reviews74 followers
January 24, 2018
A Natural History of Dragons is a faux-memoir by an aristocratic lady scientist, a dragon enthusiast. The book had a very strong start, the chapters on her childhood are so promising, and the commentary on women's total legal dependancy on their husbands was very interesting. Unfortunately, the story goes downhill just when it's supposed to get more exciting: when the protagonist goes on an excursion abroad to study dragons.

It. Was. So. Boring! The dragons are tangential to the story, at best. They shoot one, and then there's something about preserving dragon bones (snooze). Mostly, we just read about Isabella complaining, doing stupid things, and behaving like she's better than everyone (possibly true to the arrogance of old-timey aristocrats, but not so fun to read about). There was a mystery, I guess, but it wasn't about dragons, so I didn't care.

One more observation: the author set the story in Europe but changed the names of the countries (England is Scirling, for example), and it's supposed to be set in "kind of Victorian" times I guess (I actually thought it had more of a Regency feel until there was a mention of a steamship, way into the story). I suppose by fudging the names/dates, the author has more freedom, but to me, it did make it harder to follow the story. When Isabella would go on about different countries/languages, the reader doesn't have any point to reference to what the hell she's talking about, and that gets annoying really fast.

All in all, disappointing.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews2,005 followers
March 9, 2013
Originally reviewed on Kirkus' SFF Blog

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

At the age of seven, Lady Isabella Hendemore discovers a lifelong passion for natural science. Ever since her first discovery of the pint-sized sparklings that abound in her home’s gardens, Isabella has been enamored with dragons, and has devoured any books on the species she can find. There’s only one problem with Isabella’s passion for dissecting living creatures and her yearning for dragons: she is a Scirlandian noblewoman in a country where she is expected to marry and reproduce, not read scientific texts or travel to distant lands in search of majestic, dangerous beasts. Luckily, Isabella finds a husband and kindred spirit in baronet Jacob Camherst, who is similarly interested in the winged creatures (if not quite to the same degree). Thanks to her powers of persuasion, she’s able to convince Jacob to enlist in an expedition to the mountains of distant Vystrana to study rock-wyrm dragons–and she manages to get her new husband to agree to bring her along as the expedition’s secretary and artist.

In these secluded, mist-shrouded hills, Lord and Lady Camherst discover dragons behaving strangely, attacking humans (a frightening reality they face firsthand upon arriving at the village of Drustanev). There’s a mystery involving foreign smugglers, cursed ruins, and an insidious plot to drive the expedition away–but logical, dauntless Isabella is ever ready and on the case.

The latest novel from prolific fantasy author Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons is an engaging and entertaining book (albeit one with some significant shortcomings–more on that in a bit). A blend of Elizabeth Peters’ formidable Amelia Peabody and a decidedly less-cuddly version of How to Train Your Dragon, this book (the first in a planned series) is mostly successful, thanks in large part to Brennan’s heroine. Narrated retrospectively by a much older Lady Isabella in memoir form, the novel’s strongest point is its witty voice and point of view. Isabella is perfectly candid and recounts her many misadventures in wryly humorous fashion–everything from her childhood dissection of a dove, to the Incident with the Wolf-Drake (a misguided adventure at the age of 14), to being captured by smugglers in the middle of the night in Drustanev whilst wearing nothing but her nightgown and robe. The novel’s plot is less focused and adventure-centric than you might expect; instead, A Natural History tends towards meandering and slow, a collection of Isabella’s early life from years 7 to 19, and her first tragic adventures.

While, overall, Isabella’s narrative sparkles with wit and verve, there are some significant stumbling points. Isabella’s whole shtick is that she is a woman who yearns to be accepted by society as a Natural Historian and dragon scholar. For, even though this book is supposedly set in a fantasy world, Scirland is an exact analog of Victorian/Edwardian England–down to the peerage, the social mores, the societal expectations, and even the dress and vernacular. And, while Isabella yearns for acceptance, she’s gratingly imperialistic, dismissive and elitist in her thoughts. This becomes jarringly clear when Isabella meets her Vystrani maidservant for the first time, describing her thusly:

She was tall and of that build we so politely call “strapping” and applaud when found in peasant folk, with strong features and a wealth of dark hair.

And later:

If I was going to have a ham-handed Vystrani woman doing up my buttons, at least it would be the ham-handed woman I knew, rather than a stranger.

What’s more, the Vystrani village people are portrayed as superstitious, uneducated peasant heathens by Isabella. Which brings me to a very significant problem–to me, personally–when it comes to A Natural History of Dragons. For all that the novel is set in a fantasy world with dragons, it seems to glorify a very real period in human history in which British Lords went to the African continent to hunt lions and elephants, and British might and imperialist views of the world dominated.[1] And, while that is a valid romantic approach that certainly is a popular literary staple (increasingly so in the speculative fiction space), I can’t help but feel slightly appalled at the ghoulish murder of dragons, the treatment of women, and the condescending elitist mindset of the book.

The biggest question mark is the choice to set this novel in a fantasy world at all–in fantasy, you can create a world with entirely new rules, histories, and structures. So why set this novel in the fictional land of “Scirland” when it is for all intents and purposes turn-of-the-20th-century England? The fact that Isabella’s views (i.e., the superstitious peasants, the importance of good breeding, etc.) aren’t challenged is even more problematic in this light.[2] I fail to see the point of rehashing these same backwards views in a novel that does nothing to challenge those views–instead of provoking a larger conversation about these attitudes, A Natural History of Dragons seems to idealize the period. And THAT is a problem.

Of course, the biggest problem when it comes to A Natural History of Dragons is the lack of actual dragons! The book comprises the narrated memoirs of Lady Isabella Trent as she grows up, and not so much any direct observance of or interaction with the eponymous beasts (and the only ones that Isabella comes across, she or her party try to kill–not for trophies, mind you, but for science).

Ultimately, I enjoyed the style of the book and Brennan’s skillful character narration–but by the same token, the lack of dragons and the perpetuated, dated attitudes of the book are problematic. As this is the first book in a planned series, I hope that Lady Isabella’s worldview (and attitude towards the creatures she so loves) grows in future books.

In Book Smugglerish, a tentative 6 sparklings out of 10.

Thea James and Ana Grilo are The Book Smugglers, a website for speculative fiction and YA. You can find also find them at Twitter.

[1] I bring up the hunting of lions and elephants, because Isabella has no problem in killing the dragons she so loves, for the good of science, claiming: “Yes, we shot a dragon. I find it fascinating that so many people take exception to this [...] They certainly have not spent days among Vystrani shepherds, for whom dragons are neither sacred nor even likeable, but rather troublesome predators who all too often make off with the shepherds’ livelihood in their jaws.” This rationale, I’d wager, will rub plenty of modern readers the wrong way.

[2] If Isabella was a British noblewoman in late 1800s on an expedition to, say, Egypt and extolled the same views, this would be lamentable, but would make sense in context for the time period.
Profile Image for colleen the convivial curmudgeon.
1,155 reviews294 followers
July 27, 2014

Within the first few chapters, I was prepared to love this book. Lady Trent reminded me a bit of Alexia Tarbotti and Amelia Peabody - those anachronistic women of modern pseudo-Victorian tales I enjoy. (Though this world is even more pseudo than the others as it's set either in a different world entirely, or, perhaps, in the far future - but the society and even writing style, complete with multiple chapter sub-titles, remains the same.)

Anyway -

The voice of Lady Trent, the older lady writing her memoirs, is a strong one, and I enjoyed the foray into her early, wild years and her relationships with the people around her, including her parents (from which one of the more memorable lines of the book comes (and is referenced in my status update)), her developing passion for all things dragon, and into her growing up and the "grey years" in which she tried to be "a lady".

And I had thought, both when I picked up the book and continuing through these chapters, that this book was going to cover the entirety of Lady Trent's life, and if it had continued at the pace and voice that these early chapters had, I think I would have loved the story.

Alas, it was not to be.

The bulk of the story actually focuses on Isabella Camherst's first proper expedition into studying dragons, and a mystery which comes to the fore. And, unfortunately, much of this 'adventure' was kind of boring - from the overly detailed descriptions of the expedition, to the lackluster mystery. I barely felt any sense of real suspense of urgency, or even any real depth from the characters.

Mrs. Camherst is more a woman of science than passion, which is grand, but that doesn't mean that the description of emotional bits of the story need be so, well, matter-of-fact. I've read many stories which deal with women of intellect and strength which still manage to portray actual people and emotions. Aside from the two mentioned above, I'll add the Mary Russell series to the lot, and I'm sure there are more.

Also, the (I believe) 19 year-old Isabella is just too naive and, well, kind of annoying. This isn't really mitigated by the fact that the memoirist's voice often comments on how she would've, at times, like to smack her younger self. Honestly, between the elder voice and the child's voice, I had a really hard time reconciling this middle-aged voice as belonging to the same person, at times. I mean, it would be one thing to say it was a product of youth, but even her younger self seemed more capabale.

But I digress -

Ultimately, I just think the adventure was overly belabored and it didn't have much of a pay-off. I think it would've worked much better if it was a shorter vignette of a larger story - but it seems that the "memoir" of Lady Trent is intended to really be a series, each book devoted to a particular episode.

Frankly, there's just not enough meat to the story to deserve such treatment.

Not to say it was all bad. As I said, I was prepared to love it in the first few chapters, and there were moments, even in the later chapters, that were interesting. I did like the idea of focusing on dragons as natural creatures for study and such - even if I didn't always agree with some of the methodology employed.

Anyway -

The real question - to continue, or not to continue? I honestly don't know. I like the idea of the story, and it's not like the writing is bad, really. It's biggest issues seem to be owed to taking a thin story and trying to stretch it, creating horrible pacing issues - but this could be fixed in the next story.

But, then, I'm not really all that attached to the characters, so it's not like I have any pressing need to know more.

I guess time will tell...
Profile Image for Wol.
113 reviews42 followers
May 1, 2017
I'll preface this review with something that I feel it's important to know.

This book is not for everyone. It's really, *really* not for everyone. If you read Fantasy for lots of action, wish fulfillment, badass overpowered characters, action scenes, battles, intricate plot and heavy world building, run. Run far, run fast, and don't look back. It's not for you, Jen.

If you enjoy a good character piece, if you have an interest in science and natural history, if you enjoy classical literature in the vein of Jane Austen and the Brontës, if David Attenborough is listed amongst your personal heroes, if you want something light and gentle and a bit whimsical, or if you just feel like trying something a little different, you're in the right place.

In A Natural History of Dragons, a Victorian lady defies the rules of society and heads off into the wilds on an expedition to study dragons. The Victorian "voice" is well written and convincing, the main character flawed but likeable, and the adventure eventually leads to an interesting mystery/conspiracy. It's written like an old timey adventure, something you might expect from the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Rudyard Kipling. And it works. I have knocked off one star because it did get a little bit dry in places and the plot meandered just a touch too often, but there's a great deal to enjoy here and honestly, well done for doing something different. In a sea of Drizzts and Durzo Blints, here stands Lady Trent. Strong, (mostly) dignified, and very much her own person. Good for her. :)
Profile Image for Beatriz Cunha Tavares ☾.
61 reviews17 followers
May 15, 2017

Lovely book, a total surprise. It was an easy read that really grabed my attention and was hard to put down.

I loved the world, that was very "normal", with normal animals and a normal society ressembling the 19th century. Sometimes it felt almost like I was reading a goood historical fiction... with dragons! I don't usually read a lot of books about dragons, but in this one they were nicely imagined and described and fit very well in the story.
The prose was beautifully written and had really nice nature descriptions, like the forests or the night sky. Once again, also loved the 1st person, one POV, since I've been reading too much multiple POV's lately.
The main characters personality, which most of the time felt "misplaced", was a really strong part of the story to me - she doesn't let society's chains keep her from doing what she loves to do, and ends up becoming a successful science woman. I think that's a very important message. Also loved the fact that her brothers, father and then her husband were supportive of her "strange" hobbies and dreams, unlike her mother - society's prejudices towards women sometimes come from women themselves, and not always from men.

However, I guess I don't give this book a full 5* for two reasons:
- I wish there was a little more depth and development to some of the other characters - I understand this is a 1st person POV, so Isabella knows how she feels but doesn't know how others feel. Still, I think her character was very well developed while the other fell a little too flat sometimes;
- The way the dragons (and other wild life) was sometimes killed (almost casualy as if it were nothing) bugged me a little, and I have to admit that's a bit of a down side to me.

But overall it was a very good book that i really enjoyed reading. Would definitely recomend!
Profile Image for Rincey.
818 reviews4,587 followers
October 12, 2019
Started so strong and then ended with the trip that made me lose interest. But I still want to read the rest of the series, so there is that
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,162 reviews1,262 followers
February 26, 2013
The preface drew me in with its strong voice and promise to relate the adventure-filled career of a lady naturalist in an alternate Victorian age, studying dragons. The book itself is entertaining, but doesn't quite live up to that promise.

A Natural History of Dragons is the first in what looks to be a long series of fictionalized memoirs of Isabella, Lady Trent, a dragon naturalist. In this book, Isabella briefly takes readers through her childhood, courtship and marriage, then moves on to spend the bulk of the pages describing her first scientific expedition: from her quasi-English homeland to the quasi-Eastern-European mountains. Very little is known about dragons in this world, and Isabella and her companions seek them out with limited success, while meanwhile she must struggle against the restrictive gender expectations of her time.

This is a short, quick read, and an entertaining novel. It's not action-packed and the dragons' appearances are fairly limited, but if you enjoy historical fiction as well as fantasy, you and this book will likely get along well. The older Isabella, the supposed author of the memoir, has a strong and believably Victorian voice, and the world is interesting and grounded as much in historical fiction and anthropology as in fantasy, such that it feels more real than your average secondary world. Isabella is a bold and active protagonist, always up for an adventure. And the book does a great job of making fantasy elements feel realistic; dragons here are just another species of wild animal (albeit a particularly difficult one to study), and are given an entertainingly scientific treatment.

But while the book is certainly competent, some problems hold it back. The character development is nothing special, and Isabella's adult voice is more engaging than her 19-year-old personality; despite her interest in science, she tends to come across as a silly heroine who's always running off and getting into trouble. The action elements toward the end feel rather forced, and the book brings little new to the treatment of its themes. Finally, filling the entire (short) book with only one of Isabella's many expeditions seems a little indulgent, and one wonders if a memoirist would really record so much minutiae in the story of her life. I'd happily have read a longer novel about her, but am not sure my interest will extend to the half-dozen or more books that Brennan will need, at this rate, to tell the complete story. Which is too bad, because Isabella will likely only get more interesting as she matures.

At any rate, an entertaining book, and worth a read if you enjoy historical fantasy or want to read about women scientists or a scientific treatment of dragons. If you like this, you will probably also enjoy Tooth and Claw, a similarly Victorian fantasy in which all the characters are dragons.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,681 followers
April 3, 2015
The lovechild of Lady Cottington's Pressed Faerie Book and His Majesty's Dragon, I can't believe I waited this long to read the thrilling tales of Lady Trent! I must have the second (and third!) books immediately! This book reads exactly like a Victorian memoir, except for the fact that there are dragons. And there is also Isabella, Lady Trent, is not one to faint at the sight of a little dragon blood! Instead, spurred by a fascination with natural history in general and dragons in particular, she relates the story of her girlhood, early marriage, and first experiences in learning about dragons. Cunningly illustrated (her Ladyship is a skilled artist), the book is, quite simply, wonderful.
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,253 reviews182 followers
May 18, 2023

Getting my books out of boxes, and sorting them out, I landed on this one and couldn’t resist diving back in.

Picture a world similar to Victorian England but one where some types of ‘dragons’ exist, and I mean the reptile kind and not the more fantastical ones. Now zoom in a young girl who is fascinated by the natural world and wants to study it, problematic since women are only allowed to become wives in this society, and you’ll have an idea of the story.

Brennan gives us an amazing character in that of Isabella, the titular Lady Trent, one full of sass, intelligence and drive, and we witness in this book her origins and first expedition. As much as I enjoyed this, it is the voice that totally captivated me, the author blending the young Isabella with the much older Lady Trent, the result being charming and sharp at the same time.

What else? From someone who’s read the whole series, it gets better and better! ;O)

P.S: The paperbacks have wonderful illustrations by Todd Lockwood peppered throughout. Why don’t novels have more of these as a general rule?
P.P.S: The audio read by Kate Reading is brilliant! She literally becomes Lady Trent. Wonderful :O)
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
May 12, 2013
It took me a while to get round to finishing reading this, even once I was a decent way into it and knew I wanted to finish it. It's a slow sort of book, one I suspect you will either get on with or not based on the narrator and setting. The idea is of a Victorian-era analogue in which dragons exist, and in which one young woman has the opportunity of a lifetime to go and study dragons scientifically after having obsessed over them all her life. The conceit is that it's narrated by her in the form of memoirs, in a very Victorian sort of style.

It's fascinating in its attempts to place a female character realistically in a society that is a Victorian analogue and have her still free enough to have this sort of story happen to her without it sounding far fetched -- it mostly works, I think. Unfortunately it's also pretty slow, and relatively uneventful when compared to so many other dragon books. I did get into it (or rather, back into it) eventually, but I can see it won't be to everyone's taste. I did, after all, also love Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

The illustrations are, by the way, perfect. I spent quite a while examining each one in detail. And the world built up around this story is both frustrating in its close and quite naked similarities to ours and tantalising in details that aren't comparable, or at least instantly placeable.
Profile Image for Sarah.
733 reviews73 followers
July 25, 2016
Aventure! Mystery! An intrepid heroine who gets herself into all kinds of dangerous and precarious situations! No, it's not a Nancy Drew book, but it was just as much fun. ;)

I really enjoyed this. It had a Victorian feel but because it was a fantasy world it was able to throw a lot of the straitlaced conventions to the winds whenever it felt like it. I was expecting something a bit more dry but this was basically about having adventures and solving a mystery. It was good fun and I'm off to order #2 now.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,650 followers
July 2, 2018
Quite enjoyable, I thought. This was not perfect, though any memoir-style book will suffer from a lot of the same complaints - lack of suspense for the fate of the narrator, too much narrator "presence" that interrupts the story, often at inconvenient times, and usually a focus on what the narrator chooses to reveal rather than what the reader/listener is interested in.

That being said, I still liked this quite a lot. I don't really know what I was expecting, but I wasn't disappointed or bored by what we got here. The series is called "The Memoirs of Lady Trent", so I was not surprised that we'd get a memoir. I found her to be a likable and identifiable character to me, not least of which because she went against the social norms of her time, and damn the consequences.

I wonder if one of the major developments in the story was done in order to further allow her to spread her wings, as it were... but if so, I think it's gratuitous and unnecessary, given the events and attitudes already laid out. That development really disappointed me.

I do think that Brennan did a great job with the Victorian-esque setting of this book, and I would definitely be interested in continuing the series to see where it goes. I like that, though it's obviously modeled on Victorian England, this is a fantasy realm, so the possibilities are wide open as to what to do with it.

Regarding the dragons, I quite liked the scientific study bit, and how varied the dragon-kind, from tiny insect-like sparklings to wyverns to huge ice or fire or fume, etc-breathing dragons. I loved the concept of their bodies disintegrating, Skyrim dragon-like, upon death, and that being a major factor in the limited knowledge that exists about them.

Also, because one cannot mention Skyrim without it...

AND now I want to play Skyrim. DAMMIT!

Anywho, I listened to the audiobook, and it was fantastically narrated by Kate Reading. I HIGHLY recommend listening to things she reads, because she's amazing. She managed to successfully read all ages of Isabella/Mrs. Camhearst(sp?)/Lady Trent from a small child, to a teenager, to an old woman, without making any of them feel awkward or caricaturish. She managed to read men, many of them, successfully without sounding like she was putting on a GRUFF MAN VOICE. She managed slavic-style accents, and MEN with slavic-style accents, AND men with slavic-style accents speaking a secondary (to them) slavic-style language... and did it all well.

I am impressed. I usually hate when people "do the voices" but she is a goddamn voice wizard. :D

I think I'll probably pick up the next book in the series at some point... I enjoyed this enough to continue, and I really would like to see where it goes from here.
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