Marie Brennan begins a thrilling new fantasy series in A Natural History of Dragons, combining adventure with the inquisitive spirit of the Victorian Age.
You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .
All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.
Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.
I was very much excited for this book when it first saw it in Waterstones. The title A Natural History of Dragons and seeing the detail biological illustration on the front cover really caught my attention as I do love dragons and I am very interested in anything to do with dragons. But it’s not a normal history book about dragons as I was kind of lead to believe, it is a story about a woman called Isabella who has a high interest on a world of dragons ever since she has read A Natural History of Dragons.
This book started off quite strong giving us an insight on how the world works when it comes to women’s role in the Victorian times, but Isabella is willing to show that women, particularly herself can be a scientist, especially when it comes to studying dragons. After she got married, she has decided to join with her husband and his other colleagues into an expedition to Vystrana where everything change.
I want to start with the good points and that is the world building and Isabella herself. The author knows how to paint a picture when it comes to the world being set for the characters, particularly when we look at a world in Victorian Times through Isabella eyes. Because the characters are full off dragon naturalists, world building is very important for this kind of content, and the author executed it beautifully. She puts the details of the environments into consideration, different lifestyle between Vystrana and Scirling, dragons habitat, and different people’s style of living basing on their wealth. Next is Isabella, a sarcastic, highly intelligent young lady who will happily contribute to the world of science. The reason why I love her as a main character is because she breaks the mold with high end traditions and many people’s beliefs, including her mother’s about women only served to cook, clean and just be a good wife and mother, even though she is an amazing wife to another scientist Jacob, however she has proved herself to be more than that and with head strong personality, wit, sarcasm and knowledge, she has managed to take down any kind of sexism that had come her way.
The main problem I had with this book and this might sound a little petty is there is not much dragon lore as it lead me to believe. Based on the front cover it makes it seems all about dragons and at the beginning it was, then the story slowly focuses its main topic on to something else that is happening within the village. At one point it is kind of interesting but at the same time it’s not what I want from a book that it’s suppose to be about dragons and this problem does deteriorate the rating.
Overall it is very interesting book, gives us a insight how difficult it is to be a woman in Victorian Times was very difficult, however I did find the front cover to be a little misleading to what the story is actually about, so I would’ve liked more dragon lore as it was intended so I was a little disappointed on that concept and I am unsure if I am going to continue with the series.
3 / 5 Stars
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