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The Memoirs of Lady Trent #3

The Voyage of the Basilisk

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Alternate cover edition for this ASIN can be found here

The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's Voyage of the Basilisk . . .

Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal.

Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.

370 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 27, 2015

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About the author

Marie Brennan

158 books2,815 followers
Marie Brennan a.k.a. M.A. Carrick

Marie Brennan is a former anthropologist and folklorist who shamelessly pillages her academic fields for material. She recently misapplied her professors' hard work to Turning Darkness Into Light, a sequel to the Hugo Award-nominated series The Memoirs of Lady Trent. As half of M.A. Carrick, she is also the author of The Mask of Mirrors, first in the Rook and Rose trilogy. For more information, visit swantower.com, Twitter @swan_tower, or her Patreon.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 957 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
April 18, 2021
4.5 stars

Good manners warred with curiosity, and lost.
Freshly back from her journey to the Tropic of Serpents, Lady Trent finds herself tempted by a two-year trip around the world.

The reason? Dragons.

And while many a person would object to a lady (gasp) wanting to further the field of science (double gasp), Lady Trent refuses to back down.
I find that respectability grows wearisome after a time, when one is accustomed to being a disgrace.
This time, she brings her child on this rare and wondrous adventure.

While the scientific discoveries about dragons prove to be great, that only begins to scratch the surface of Lady Trent's life.
I have never attempted to hide that I have had two husbands in my life. I have, however, neglected to mention that in between them, I had a wife.
The second book was a bit of a lull to me - it focused quite heavily on the politics and the struggle of being a woman scientist - but this one brought the energy back!

I loved being on the ship with Lady Trent and watching all the wild discoveries she made.

I'm really impressed by the way Brennan is able to breath life into an entire world of dragons - the way she creates so many species and subspecies of dragons - each perfectly adapted to their environment. It made the experience truly immersive and a joy to read.

I also really enjoyed Lady Trent's personality. I always quite liked her, but now I'm able to see her growth from the last two books and I am loving the direction she's going.

All in all, I'm ready for the next one!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
737 reviews1,257 followers
January 7, 2018
I’m happy to say that Voyage of the Basilisk was a combination of everything I’ve been hoping to see since the beginning of the series. The foremost of which being the heavy focus on dragons (and not all the other crap she included in the first book… although a lot of that is now becoming relevant, so I’m kind of eating my words). I especially appreciated the infusion of fantasy, naturalism, and archaeology into this adventure.

I feel like I’m living vicariously through the main character, and am loving the chance to explore new territories, study dragons, and come up with new theories on how they impact the world. If I could have any fantasy job, dragon naturalism would be near the top of the list. Part of the reason this was my favorite installment to date is because it let me appreciate the breadth of Brennan’s dragon creation. I think she did an excellent job of incorporating a wide variety of species while keeping in mind what’s biologically feasible for each territory. VotB also hinted at a cool mystery involving ancient dragons (which just might be the overall arc of the story), which shows a depth of world building I also hadn’t truly appreciated. All the things have me super excited to pick up the next book.

I still have a slight hold-up about the main character – I like so many things about her, but she still has a tendency to make hare-brained decisions. Even though Brennan did an excellent job addressing it in this volume, it still required a bit of that eye-rolling acceptance near the end. At least the character is consistent, I guess. The best advice I can give is: just go with it.

Overall, there are moments in this series I’ll love forever, and those memorable moments seem to happen more and more with each book. If you are as obsessed with dragons as I am (and are patient enough to wait for the payoff), this is an excellent series for you. I highly recommend the audio – Kate Reading is the queen of narration.

Other books you might like:
Dragon's Blood - Jane Yolen
The Waking Fire - Anthony Ryan
Dragon Weather - Lawrence Watt-Evans
Dragon Champion - E.E. Knight
The Book of Jhereg - Stephen Brust

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,071 reviews2,633 followers
March 24, 2015
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/03/24/b...

In the interest of full disclosure, I majored in Anthropology and Evolutionary Biology so these books are like super-strength catnip to me. Written in the form of a memoir by the venerable Lady Trent, these novels are adventurous tales about our protagonist when she was a younger woman, but just as importantly they also explore her lifetime of scientific study and research. As such, I find this series extremely hard to resist. Ethnographic narratives? My heart goes all a-flutter. Taxonomy and biodiversity? Help, I swoon! Throw in dragons to complete the trifecta, and stick a fork in me, I’m done.

Voyage of the Basilisk picks up a few years after the events of the last book, and once again Isabella is making preparations to leave Scirland in order to continue her scientific study of dragons. There will be several major differences about this particular expedition, however. Isabella will be leading it, for one; no longer accompanied by her old associate and benefactor Lord Hilford, the majority of all decisions will be falling on her shoulders. Isabella has also decided to bring along her son Jake, who is now old enough to travel. And finally, this upcoming expedition will be her longest and most ambitious one yet: two years aboard the Basilisk, a royal survey ship hired to sail her and her party around the world in order to study all manner of dragonkin.

Dragons are of course what Isabella desires to see the most. But as we’ve already seen in the previous two installments, everywhere Isabella travels, her adventures also put her in contact with the local population. In many cases, she ends up living with them and immersed in their culture. These books are as much about dragons as they are about the world Isabella lives in, which I find is one of the most unique aspects about this series. Unlike a lot of other books featuring dragons, the ones in here are not intrinsically magical or preternatural. They, along with the native flora, fauna, and even native peoples in their habitat are all part of the natural living system. For that reason, I’ve told people before not to read this series solely for the dragons, and instead read it for the whole package.

As much as I enjoyed this book, it was not what I’d expected at all. From the description and cover, I immediately thought “Maritime/Nautical Fantasy”. In truth, though Isabella does spend the majority of this book traveling on the high seas, the main story doesn’t really start until halfway when the Basilisk gets shipwrecked in the tropics and the characters find themselves as guests of the local islanders. In contrast, the first half is decidedly lighter on plot as Isabella flits from one place to next, searching for dragons to observe. The overall pacing follows a similar pattern of the first two books, where the beginning was mostly made up of a series of short anecdotes, with the meat of story coming much later. Fans of the previous novels therefore should find Voyage of the Basilisk familiar and to their liking.

Just as Isabella’s dragons evolve, so does her character development. As her confidence in her knowledge and skills increases, she starts taking on greater challenges. Leading the expedition is the first step. This book also sees her having the courage to formulate her own scientific hypotheses, as well as the courage to admit when they’re wrong.

For the first time in this series, Isabella’s son Jake is also a major character. Isabella knows her maternal instincts have never been strong, not something easy for her to admit. But as Jake grows, her feelings toward motherhood begin changing and she starts to see her son as a young man with his own hopes and dreams, and not just a reminder of her late husband. This side plot really touched me, recalling Isabella’s guilt over putting her research ahead of her family in previous book, and comparing that to her relationship with Jake now. I like how amidst the adventure and the science in these books, there’s always an emotional side to the story.

This novel builds significantly on the previous books. First of all, Isabella’s voyage on the Basilisk expanded the scope of the world tremendously, from the luscious jungles of Coyahuac to the volcanic islands of Keonga. We encounter many new species of dragons, including sea serpents, fire lizards, feathered drakes, and more. Aside from Jake, new characters include Aekinitos, the eccentric captain of the Basilisk, and Suhail, an archaeologist specializing in ancient draconic ruins. Isabella befriends the latter and then becomes quite taken with him, and their dynamic is so wonderful that I really hope we’ll see him again someday.

I really love this series, and my fondness only grows with every new adventure. I rarely make such a deep connection to a main character, but three books later, “Lady Trent” feels incredibly real for me. There’s so much about her past that has yet to be revealed, and I can’t wait for the next installment of this series. More expeditions, more science, and of course more dragons!
Profile Image for Sanaa.
413 reviews2,552 followers
July 2, 2015
[4 Stars] Decided to give this a 4 afterall. It isn't as strong as the others but still fascinating. I loved the intriguing exploration of gender, sexuality, and gender norms in this in particular. This series is definitely for those who love anthropology, archaeology, and dragons!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
April 24, 2020
These Lady Trent novels are consistently interesting.

I admit I was becoming slightly afraid that the political intrigues might overwhelm the otherwise cool archeological or evolutionary science bits, but this book turned it around for me.

A voyage on the high seas! Spending a lot of time with Pacific Islanders! Getting married? lol, well, that was a blast. And let's not forget the dragon spirit!

Lite fun, it's very much in the spirit of tweed adventurers around the world! Academic fury! Dragons!

Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,562 reviews2,938 followers
June 16, 2016
As always another fabulous book here from Marie Brennan. I think this one wasn't quite on par with the previous two as there was a little less of a plot until the second half, but there is still so much that is truly wonderful and heartwarming with this series that I can't give it less than a 4*s.

This instalment of the series was really interesting to me becuase we follow Isabella as she and her son (now 9!!) and good friends go on a voyage around the world to study dragons. We see the ship (The Basilisk) leave port to travel to some very exotic places where serpents and dragons alike may exist.

I really loved the exploration of gender roles and sexes within this as we have transvestite characters and that's something I hadn't seen in a fantasy before. I really loved the commentary that Brennan manages to make via her characters, and I think she does a solid job of showing that acceptance can be key to unity.

As a whole, this book introduced me to more adventures of Isabella (already a favourite lady character of mine) and also made me start to love her son. I think he may become more important as the series goes on (as I believe will the Draconians) and I am very eager to dive into book #4 super soon! As always I would HIGHLY recommend this series if you like anthropology, science, wonderful lady characters and dragons :) 4*s overall!
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,768 reviews1,768 followers
September 21, 2023
This series is a nerdy good time. And this book in particular really leaned into the scholarly nature of Lady Trent's calling. The last book, a lot of page-time was taken up by Lady Trent and her companions navigating local and global politics while trying to learn about dragons, and while that is a factor here, too, Voyage of the Basilisk feels more balanced, with a focus more clearly on her science and what she got up to while doing it, and also on her personal relationships with her son and with her colleagues and those she meets along the way, unrelated to politics.

I said in my review of the last book that one of the things I appreciated about this series was that each book takes place in a very distinct location and so it's easier to keep the events straight in your head. That's both true and not true of this book. The distinct location here is on a ship traveling the oceans of the world, but ships move, and so we also get to visit various places across Lady's Trent's world as she embarks up on a two year voyage to study sea serpents and other more tropical dragons (dragon turtles!!!).


This is my favorite of these books so far. I loved the ocean atmosphere, I loved seeing multiple locations and cultures. I liked the way that the consequences of Lady Trent's actions carried through here from both the first book and the discovery of what the preservation of dragon bone has done to dragon populations in certain areas, and her banishment from certain regions of the world affecting her studies. She's also learning as she goes from her mistakes, and her growth as a scholar goes hand in hand with her growth as a mother and friend. I just liked everything about it.

I'm not sure how other people feel about the scientific discussions of made-up beings in this series, but I love it and want more of it, and I'm glad there was much more of it here than in the previous two books. I'm also VERY much here for the developing romance between Lady Trent and a certain cliff-diver.

Side note: I had no idea until last week that Marie Brennan is also M.A. Carrick, and now I need to check out The Mask of Mirrors ASAP.
484 reviews29 followers
August 24, 2021
This was quite an interesting book about a quest for dragons for scientific study.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
May 21, 2016
I think, the first time I read this, I may have observed that it’s beginning to push the bounds of credulity that Isabella (and dragons) should get tangled up in so much politics. I can’t say I actually noticed that, this time — it seems natural, when you just read the books straight through like this, because Isabella is willing to go anywhere and do just about anything for dragons. And of course, that means she’s in the least appropriate places for someone of her background (at least as far as her peers are concerned), and so of course she stumbles into things.

Besides, it’s Isabella. You’d be disappointed if you didn’t see her blundering into a plot or intrigue.

The story of Isabella’s time on the Basilisk is a lot of fun; the first half of the book is lighter, since it’s more travelogue-ish, until the point where the Basilisk is nearly wrecked and they have to go ashore. That opens up the world of the villagers they have to interact with, and involves a rather neat plot with a sort of third gender concept — on this island, those who are “dragon-spirited” have different social rules, and Isabella has to “marry” an island woman to calm down their fears about what she might do. Heal’li, the woman who helps her and guides her, is a pretty awesome character, and honestly I could do with a ton more of her. (And some note on whether “she” is indeed her preferred pronoun, or if, like Isabella, she’s bowed to necessity and allowed herself to be treated as female when she does in fact identify as male. I suspect not, given the way she embraces femininity, but it’s awkward to tell from Isabella’s point of view.)

And of course, Basilisk introduces new characters like Aekinitos (the “mad” captain, whose similarities to Isabella could have been used to good effect, though he was mostly in the background), Suhail the archaeologist, and even a rather more grown-up Jake (who immediately decides to become a ship’s boy, of course). I do feel the lack of Natalie, in this book; Abby isn’t much of a replacement, since she’s mostly there to keep an eye on Jake, both for Isabella’s sake and the sake of the plot.

I could probably go on for hours about all the things I love about this series — the societies, the natural history, the more general science, Tom Wilker, the enthusiasms of Suhail and Isabella — their sheer joy in what they do — the different dragons, the theories… the way that Isabella’s academic career unfolds: with some success, but by stages, as she makes a way for herself in a path barred for most women, and brings other women with her.

Don’t take my word for it, if you haven’t tried these books yet. There’s only one more to come after Labyrinth of Drakes (the fourth book), so it’s not going to be an epic series — and in fact, it reads all too quickly. I want more Isabella!

Originally posted here.
Profile Image for Cozy Reading Times.
410 reviews11 followers
June 6, 2022
Whilst I expected this to become my favourite Lady Trent book, I ended up being my least favourite one.

Maybe it's just that after three books I still feel like I know barely anything about some of the main characters (like Tom), or in general the plot-driveness of these getting more blatant.
It's one of thoese books where alot is going on, it isn't what I myself want to happen. I wish this had more trvelling to it and less stay at one place, because that is already featured in former books and I wanted something new. I also would have liked to learn more about the members of the crew (of which we only really get to know the captain and even he's quite two-dimensional) and have more mother-son bonding time.
I think, the Memoirs of Lady Trent are at this point getting a little to repetitive at this point for me. Whiel they are still enjoyable for the most part, this for example I won't buy myself a physical copy of to put on my shelf (as I did with the last two instalments).

And then, there's the colonialist aspect of these novels that's annoying me nad often making me quite uncomfortable. Espescially this one gave of white savior vibes and the Scirlandic marine (which is inspired by England) being depicted a bit to nicely for my taste given history.

Still, I plan on reading on but I don't think this series overall will ever be an absolute favourite of mine.
Profile Image for Danny_reads.
228 reviews85 followers
April 2, 2023
Probably my favorite installment of the series so far!

I love the progression of this series, and seeing Isabella's adventures! This installment was particularly great - I especially loved that Jake was more prominently featured in this book and that we could see the growth of their mother-son relationship.

I also really enjoyed the sea voyage, and the characters that were introduce.

While I did really enjoy the book, I don't know if I'll be continuing on with the series - each one feels like the one before (I feel like if you've read one, you've read them all!). I might read the last two books one day, but not now...
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,674 followers
August 17, 2019
Lady Trent! What shocking shenanigans you do get into!

I loved that that this one was a take on "Darwin on the Beagle" as it were, but I do wish the politics were a bit easier to follow. I almost need a primer and full maps of the entire world at the beginning of each of these, in order to keep up! She's got such a lot going on in these books, with both the dragons and the humans!

Nevertheless, it was a joy to follow Isabella, her stoic colleague Tom (if these two don't end up in each other's arms by book 5 Imma flip a table), her son, and his governess as they sailed around the world in search of dragons!
Profile Image for Christine PNW.
712 reviews195 followers
April 8, 2017
I had been awaiting this one with enthusiasm because Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle has always enthralled me. I’m not particularly a ship/boat person, but the idea of a scientist travelling ’round the world studying the natural world is extremely appealing to me. So, this book would be, I hoped, the opportunity to read of such a fictional voyage.

A cross-section view of the hold of The Beagle

It was quite a satisfying tale, although there wasn’t quite as much travelling as I had hoped. Natalie doesn’t join her on this trip, although her son, now nine-years-old, does, and becomes entirely obsessed with ships. Lady Trent has the opportunity to swim with the dragon turtles!

But I did not need to be a champion swimmer to see the dragon turtles, for they are both huge and relatively fearless of human company. In shape they are more like enormous turtles than anything else. Their shell alone is often two meters or more in length, and when they extend their flippers, a swimmer feels positively tiny in comparison. The name “dragon turtle,” however, derives from the shape of the head, which is indeed like that of a Dajin dragon: a thrusting, squarish muzzle; flaps of skin depending from the jaw; long whiskers which dance in the current as the turtle swims.

And she visits an island where she ends up becoming embroiled in a political scandal, after scaring the natives who are convinced that she is “dragon-spirited” because her refusal to behave in a traditionally feminine manner. There’s a rather amusing part of the book where she ends up “married” to a local woman because that’s the only way to satisfy the native population that she’s safe to keep around.

“Do you believe you are neither male nor female?”

I almost gave a malapert answer, but caught myself in time. We had an established habit of intellectual debate, and I valued it; I would not discard it now. “So long as my society refuses to admit of a concept of femininity that allows for such things,” I said, “then one could indeed say that I stand between.”

Finally, Lady Trent rides a dragon. Well, a sea serpent who is a dragon, but still.

Whereupon I realized that we were, indeed, riding a dragon. I cannot honestly recommend the practice to my readers. Apart from the number of Keongans who have been killed attempting this very feat, it is not very comfortable. The ragged cuts on my knees and elbows stung unmercifully. Every time the serpent dove, I was buffeted by the water until it realized the error of its ways and surfaced once more. Again and again it drew in water and expelled it in a blast, for that was its defense against what troubled it, and the beast’s mind could not encompass the fact that this annoyance could not be disposed of in such fashion; but it came near to working regardless, for the shuddering of the serpent’s body whenever this happened threatened to dislodge us. There was no moment of the entire experience that was not a precarious struggle to stay aboard. And yet for all of that, it was one of the grandest experiences of my life.

At this point in the book, she becomes embroiled – once again – in a royal Scirling government scandal, and is basically sent home subject to the official secrets act after saving the life of a grateful Princess. I should probably also mention Suhail, a foreign archaeologist from a vaguely middle eastern country, with whom Isabella is quite taken, and from whom she is abruptly separated at the end of this book when his father, the Sheikh, dies unexpectedly and he is called home. All in all, this was an incredibly satisfying outing in the series, and I’m looking forward to the fourth book, In The Labyrinth of Drakes.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
May 18, 2015
I originally received this as an ARC, but then bought it anyway because I wanted a print copy so I could look at the illustrations better. I ate this up in a couple of hours. If you’ve enjoyed the previous books, this will give you more of the same: adventures, a female main character with a bright and scientific mind, interesting problems of taxonomy when it comes to dragons, politics, encounters with other cultures…

It very much mimics the style of memoirs written in the analogous time period in Britain, so I think you have to excuse what other people have read as a colonial tone. Scirland (Britain) is still an empire, here, and Isabella works under those assumptions as much as she assumes she can breathe air. She does meet other cultures, and treat them with respect, but sometimes with an air of private condescension that (to me) just works as part of her character, her driven nature, and the world she lives in. Your mileage may vary, but I don’t think it’s invisible to Brennan; I think it’s part of the character and world she’s building.

I’m enjoying the matter of fact inclusion of queerness in the story, too. As is Isabella’s wont, she doesn’t pry into people’s personal lives much, and the idea of queer people is essentially shrugged off as one of those things that happens, and not really her business. Even where it’s story-relevant, there’s only one moment where she does anything that one might call prying — and it’s understandable in the situation.

I’m afraid that despite Isabella’s best efforts, I do wish she’d up and marry Tom Wilker. I love the evolution of his character, too: the belligerent way he started out, the way he’s come to respect her and drop some of his barriers around her, the way they rely on each other, and of course society’s slow acceptance of the working class lad who has worked his way up. I was less taken with Suhail, because I just like the adversarial, sparring relationship between Tom and Isabella.

Oh, and you’ve got to enjoy the evolution of her relationship with her son. I love that he’s become “Jake” instead of Jacob, love that she’s found a way to relate to him, spend time with him, and be a mother to him, despite her initial rejection of the traditional mother-son relationship.

One thing that is getting hard to swallow: Isabella’s way of getting entangled in politics wherever she goes. Not just local politics, but politics with deep relevance to the crown. But it wouldn’t be such an interesting read without those complications.

Originally posted here.
Profile Image for Angela.
419 reviews921 followers
February 25, 2022
Spoiler Free Series Review: https://youtu.be/XtkCzb-8rJA

One of my favorite characters is introduced in this one and I love the focus on the mother son relationship that this expedition highlights! Also per usual really fun plot acceleration at the end that had me on the edge of my seat.
Profile Image for Brooke.
756 reviews354 followers
April 9, 2020
Even though there were parts that I still really loved, I think this was my least favorite so far. Brennan does a great job of building this world and the dragons seem so real, but in this installment there were several moments that were rushed and others that dragged.

But I still think this is a great series for those trying to get more into fantasy!
Profile Image for All Things Urban Fantasy.
1,921 reviews617 followers
June 8, 2015
THE VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK is Lady Trent's most thrilling adventure to date. With little of grinding misogyny that peppered earlier books, here Isabella takes to the seas with her research fellow Tom, her son Jake, and a stalwart captain mad enough to hunt sea serpents in their natural habitat.

Once again, Brennan offers the daily realities of biology at the turn of the century, as much hunting and politics and anthropology as it is studying natural phenomena. Those Machiavellian obstacles don't seem as frustrating when she can sail away on her ship, encountering fascinating (and romantic) people in her search for answers.

Over the course of this book tantalizing hints collect about Lady Trent's future relationships, the political upheavals that would shape her future , and the biological nature of the dragons she so loves. While I've enjoyed this series all along, THE VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK may be the first that I finished and was desperate for the next installment. Isabella is at the cusp of so many changes, both personal and professional, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Sexual Content: None.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
489 reviews14 followers
May 5, 2022
I liked the third instalment of Lady Trent’s memoirs Voyage of the Basilisk a bit better than the second one and a bit less than the first. So, I’d say 3.5 stars. Basically, I enjoyed the familiarity, while at the same time, I found all the repetitions – especially about her poor grasp at grammar – a bit overload. In contrast, I really enjoyed the ship voyage and the world exploration, because it reminded me of the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader that I loved as a child. But then again, the story repeats itself as Isabella tries to win the trust of the locals – and doing very poorly at first. Still, overall, I enjoy the series: especially its lightness, feelgood-feeling and exploration-spirit.
Profile Image for imyril.
436 reviews62 followers
July 9, 2017
This is my favourite Lady Trent to date, shamelessly pandering to me with archaeologists, diving bells, monolithic statues, and things I can't mention without even bigger spoilers. It's a thrill ride of adventures at sea with a grumpy sea captain and charming new companions - and we get to meet young Jake to boot. All the feelings, lots of fun and excellent new mysteries.

Full review to follow.

4.5 stars. I think. Just so much fun!
Profile Image for Banshee.
530 reviews50 followers
September 26, 2022
Everything that made the previous two books great was present in this novel in equal measure: fascinating world-building, science discovery, breaking barriers, exciting adventures, humour that hit the spot just right for me and well-developed characters.

I was happy to see to the expansion into new fields of scientific research in this installment, for example archeology and geology. Don't get me wrong, dragon science is the reason why I reached for this series in the first place, but learning about the world changing due to global warming and discovering new facts about the Draconian civilization added even more to the story.

I was just hoping to have more actual traveling and more frequent changes of scenery in a novel which was supposed to be about a sea voyage around the world. That's where one star went missing from my rating.

The characters were such a delight. It was satisfactory to see the development Isabella goes through in the course of her life. Jake and Suhail were also great additions to the cast, each in their unique way. .

It's interesting to see how gender restrictions negatively affect people's lives in different places throughout the series. In Scirland women are not allowed intellectual development (among many other things), in Bayembe they are locked away as "impure" when menstruating and in Keonga both men and women are forced into marriages incompatible with their sexual orientation and artificial genders are imposed on them, if they don't neatly fit into a set of stereotypes. I wonder, if we'll see more consequences of restrictive gender expectations in other cultures of this world.

I'm looking forward to more in the Lady Trent universe.
Profile Image for Mike.
404 reviews102 followers
January 9, 2022
Planning to do a full series review after I finish book 5. For the moment all I'll say is that I'm super glad that I picked this back up. Book 1 was just all right; book 2 was good. This book was excellent.
Profile Image for Kirsten Moody.
311 reviews117 followers
July 15, 2023
4.5 stars.

I love this series, it remains one of my favourite series.
I really appreciated the discussions around gender in this one, and of course the dragons!

Profile Image for Rachel Brown.
Author 20 books159 followers
April 11, 2015
The continued adventures of Lady Isabella Trent, Victorian explorer and DRAGON NATURALIST. In this volume, Isabella sails around the world on the appropriately named Basilisk, accompanied by her young son Jake, an underwater archaeologist named Suhail, and other companions.

I enjoyed this the most of the series so far. It strikes a perfect balance between action and exploration. Isabella has matured enough to be interesting in a different way from the monomaniac of the first book: still obsessive and headstrong, but more introspective, thoughtful, and interested in people in addition to dragons.

The dragons are great, and there are lots of them. I thoroughly enjoyed the interconnected mysteries of taxonomy, biology, and history. Some mysteries are solved, but others are deepened. I feel confident that the final explanation will be satisfying. (I’m assuming it’s not going to be Isabella discovering evolution, because that seems to already have been discovered – she mentions the concept of different species having a common ancestor as if that’s an ordinary idea to consider.)

The supporting characters in are more vivid and interesting than in the previous installments. Jake comes to life as a personality, both like and unlike his mother, obsessive but on a different topic. Their relationship neatly steers between the obvious clichés of “I hate you for loving dragons more than me” and “Who cares about dragons now that I’m a mommy.” Suhail is a satisfying possible love interest, both sexy and geeky. To Isabella, he’s mostly sexy because he’s geeky, though she does appreciate the multiple occasions when his underwater explorations require him to remove his shirt. I also liked the adrenaline junkie ship’s captain, Aekinitos.

But my favorite supporting character was Heali’i. I loved everything about the part of the book she's involved in. The culture clash between the islanders and the voyagers felt very real, sometimes tense, sometimes funny, neatly showing how frustrated they sometimes got with each other without making either culture look inferior. And that leads neatly into spoilers.

A tremendously fun and unexpectedly thought-provoking installment of the series, with all the dragons one could desire.

I read an ARC that was missing the illustrations, but based on the stellar quality of the illustrations in the first two books and the extremely tempting captions, I will have to buy the actual book to get them. I would also pay for a book of more illustrations plus Isabella’s field notes on dragons, and I bet I’m not the only one.
Profile Image for Derpa.
262 reviews43 followers
November 19, 2017
I give up. This series is deteriorating very fast and I can't be arsed to go on. This is a year when I just don't have the energy and time to go on with things like this, so I have quite a few DNF books and I think it's fine.

My issue with the series is the protagonist. As much as she was fine in the first book, she is becoming more and more of a person I can't stand.
Isabella is spoilt. Of course now people will say nope, she isn't, she goes out to the jungles and oceans and mountains to study dragons, without any luxuries. But what I am talking about is responsibilities. She keeps talking about how hard life is for a woman. How she is limited in everything, how it's such a sad life, but we see nothing of that. What, as a kid she was told to not do certain things? She still did them and nothing happened. As an adult she is even worse, she just has no regard for anyone other than herself and what is the most convenient for her obsession.
Which is fine. But Isabella is portrayed as this wonderful woman who is such a heroine and all. Nope. She is a womanchild who cries about things not being how she wants them when they are.

The son character... I have no idea why he is there, other than for Isabella to be spiteful about someone she produced not being like her and annoying her with being a boy who supposedly could do whaaaatever he wanted, so he does that, does whatever he likes and not what his mother does. Jacob is more of a mildly annoying roommate than her child.

I don't care about fantasy place names and tribe names being repeated over and over again while we get nowhere. It's ridiculous. I want to hear more about dragons, to elaborate more on the damn creatures on the cover of the books, not tribal issues and every man being interested in Isabella, while she is just doing whatever.

I'm quitting this series. Bye.
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
659 reviews80 followers
September 7, 2018
Voyage of the Basilisk is the third book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series. Similar to the second book, there were some slow spots. However, the author makes up for them with the “fast spots”. I think she writes adventure and action scenes very well.

These are fun, light, and quick reads. Unlike the impression one might get from the title of the first book, A Natural History of Dragons, there isn’t much science. Or fantasy for that matter. There are some descriptions of the dragons, and of course we see her research process to some extent, but for any nitty-gritty details she usually refers the reader to other imaginary books or articles. That’s fine with me, because learning a lot of scientific detail about creatures that don’t exist isn’t that high on my to-do list. :) As far as the fantasy goes, the only fantastical thing is that dragons exist. Aside from their “extraordinary breath” ability, which for the most part isn’t too terribly dramatic, there isn’t much that sets them apart from a real-world exotic and dangerous animal. The books focus far more on the people than the dragons, really.
Profile Image for Udy Kumra.
288 reviews42 followers
January 18, 2023
1/18/23: 5 stars. Easily the best book in the series yet. The pacing is much better in this one, and the plot feels so much more robust. The globe-trotting/journey nature of this story really helped in that regard, because it kept things fresh with lots of new locations in the first half before we dug into a new culture in the second half.

I also feel like Marie Brennan has really nailed Isabella's voice in this one. It was always good before, but all the little asides and jokes that Isabella makes in this one really make me feel like this has gone from simply good to spectacular. Isabella's relationships in this book were also sublime. There were emotional moments that had me tearing up with both Tom and her son, Jake, and I loved her incredibly nerdy dynamic with a new character introduced in this book, Suhail. Between the voice and the relationships, as well as her continual inner struggles with patriarchy, her career ambitions, and her struggle with not being able to help solve some problems, I can say with certainty that Isabella Camherst is one of the greatest fantasy characters of all time and I can see her making my top 5 or 10 characters list by the time I finish this series (or before, honestly).

Overall a fantastic book—a step up from the great stuff we got before, and hopefully a herald of even greater things to come. I can't recommend this series enough to anyone.
Profile Image for Amanda (A Reader in Time).
546 reviews63 followers
April 28, 2020
This series is just a comfort read for me that I just love. The characters are amazing, the plot is so fun and adventurous and I LOVE the amount of dragons in this, it is SO fun!! Highly recommend and I can't wait to read the next in the series.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
432 reviews45 followers
October 22, 2015
This series keeps getting better and better.

Here we are in book 3 of Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent Memoirs with VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK and our heroine, Isabella Camherst, is sent on an expedition to research dragons on sea and on land. Along for the ride is her young son Jacob; Jacob’s nanny Abigail; and Tom, Isabella’s research partner.

With Isabella on board, they are bound for an adventure.

The voyage starts out as scheduled, they find their first sea dragon, and observe the beast…more close-up than planned. Fortunately everyone survives. As they carry on in their travels and stop at a port town conquered by the Yelang, Isabella discovers that her reputation has preceded her, and that the dragon bone preservation solution stolen in book 2 has resulted in the very thing she feared: governments hunting dragons for their bones. Powerless to recover the stolen solution or protect the dragons, she must move on in her studies. But when they sail for the open sea, a storm throws them off course and the ensuing discoveries forever changes Isabella’s understanding of dragons and herself.

The best part of this series is Isabella. She is a heroine in every sense of the word. Her PoV narration is filled with self discovery, an appreciation for the world around her, and observations about her companions. She meets so many new people along the way, such as the mysterious Suhail, whose passion for Draconic archeology rivals her own for dragon naturalism; Isabella’s son Jacob, now nine, takes a bigger role in the story and it’s fun to see him become his own person while inspiring his mother in the process; the cross-dressing native who understands Isabella’s obsession with dragons and how it flavors her personality; and even the island where they are stranded for several months has its own personality with its proximity to the very answers Isabella is looking for.

The progression of events worked much better for me than in book 2, THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS, with information building in such a way that despite the crazy sequence of events in the climax that I believed every word. And the result was a book I loved even more than the first two. Sure it takes nearly half the book for the story to really get going, but that’s the pitfall of a ‘memoir’ style of storytelling. Despite this limitation, Isabella’s narration of events, however mundane, are never boring. There is the usual strange cultures, crazy events, dragon science, and colorful characters–only here this is so much more. I’m not sure how Brennan can do better with IN THE LABYRINTH OF DRAKES due out in April, but I’m super excited to find out.

Recommended Age: 14+ more for comprehension than content
Language: None
Violence: A battle with a sea serpent references blood and gore, which is more gruesome than an actual battle with enemies
Sex: Vague references

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