A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (Book 1)
By Marie Brennan
“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… From Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, Isabella, Lady Trent is known 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 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 and natural history 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 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 did not know anything about A Natural History of Dragons before reading it, Matt bought it for me as Geek and Sundry wrote a post about it and he thought I would like it.
A Natural History of Dragons is about Lady Trent looking back on the beginning of her life from age seven to age nineteen. She is not a normal girl who likes to ride ponies and read romance novels; she collects sparklings and reads books about Dragons.
Lady Trent (Isabella Hendemore as she is known in the book) is my favourite character, she does not like the box that life has put her in and constantly wants to get out. She is independent and headstrong, rushing into the unknown without thinking about the consequences, but that is what I love about her, if she was shy and retiring and constantly worrying about what would happen, her life would be completely different. The characterisations are fabulous, I really like the relationships and how they develop naturally, like normal relationships whether between couples, family, friends or acquaintances.
I have lots of favourite bits, so many I not sure I can pick one just one. I love the way it is a first person narrative, as it is a memoir, rather than most fiction books which are written in the third person. Also, Lady Trent is writing to an audience in her world which immerses you even more into the story, it makes me feel like I am there living her life or sometimes a fly on the wall. The illustrations in the book are lovely, especially as they are drawn by Lady Trent at the time, during the story.
A Natural History of Dragons kept me guessing all the way to the end, there were plenty of twists and turns. There were a few obvious points once you got to know the characters as well, but the far majority of the book was unknown of what was going to happen next and where the characters were headed, which was fantastic! The book is a page-turner! I did not want to stop reading! Except for the fact that I had work and other commitments, but I did read it in 6 days, which for me with work is fast. A Natural History of Dragons definitely made me tense and scared in all the right places, I cried as well, I cannot say whether I laughed (I think I did, but I am not sure).
A Natural History of Dragons does have a cliff-hanger, this is because we leave Lady Trent at nineteen and the series continues with the rest of her life. I really want to read the next book (The Tropic of Serpents), but have to wait for an opportunity to go shopping in London.
The way I described the book while reading it was a memoir that is historical and fantasy at the same time, as you learn about the recent history of a fantasy world. I personally cannot find any fault with it and would recommend it to anyone. 5 out of 5.