A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Release Date: February 5th, 2013
Type: Adult Fantasy
Series:The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1
Summary: Everyone knows Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world's preeminent dragon naturalist. Here, at last, in her own words, is the story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, prospects, and her life to satisfy scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the mountains of Vystrana, where she made discoveries that would change the world.
I adored this book. I love it so much! Isabella is an amazing, strong-willed, intelligent woman who is like the Jane Goodall of dragons. She lives in a place that parallels our own 18th Century World that believes that women have no business in the field of science. Isabella was the curious kind of girl who instead of loving fashion trends she dissected a dove to see how it worked. After a misadventure, her days of unladylike curiosity are stiffed so that she may find a husband.
Luckily for Isabella she met a man who would, against society and often times his better judgment, let her follow her dragon-mad passions. Thus led Isabella and Jacob on an expedition to Vystrana. The expedition is what makes me love A Natural History of Dragons because it is like reading the beginning of zoology. This World knows next to nothing about dragons because they haven't been studied, much like our animal world wasn't. I am fascinated with how we learned about our natural world and reading this “memoir” gave me a glimpse into that. I liked reading about how the expedition crew dealt with hardships and with foreign languages and customs. I enjoyed the cast of characters in the town the crew settles in.
Another fantastic addition to this book is the art work by Todd Lockwood. In the story Isabella is allowed on the expedition to sketch the dragons they will study and Lockwood's drawings enhance the memoir so much so that at times I forget that the memoir isn't real. Besides being a parallel to Victorian age, the worldbuilding Marie Brennan does is quite extraordinary when it comes with they types of dragons, where they live, and their differences. She created a new set of ancients to explain a world with dragons, complete with curses and ruins. Brennan has forgotten nothing and it shows in her work. I cannot recommend this book enough and I look forward to reading more of Lady Trent's memoirs!