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Release Day Historical Fantasy Review: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

egalley courtesy of Tor/Forge

Synopsis from Goodreads
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. 

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US | The Book Depository US/UK


* * *
A Natural History Of Dragons is a lovely, quirky book which reads like a proper memoir, but as the reviews on Goodreads indicate it's not for everyone.

Lady Trent talks about her growing up, getting interested in dragons, obsessed with them, getting married to someone who shared her passion and at last embarking on her first expedition in a matter of fact simple narrative.

Vystrana where everything exciting happens, is a backward pseudo Eastern European country with quirky customs and superstitions, and to get used to it is really hard for Isabella. Her complaints about the weather and the people, her descriptions of day to day life however are old-fashioned and charming like something you would expect of Jonathan Harker's writing.

The approach to dragons again is very scientific and meticulous. In Vystana they behave out of norm and attack people, and it's up to the naturalists to understand why and to stop the dragons. There is a political intrigue here, danger and excitement, and lady Trent with her companions are slowly adding pieces of the puzzle together.

It is a fantasy book but it's mostly a historical mystery - dragons and alternative world-building are the only fantastical elements in the book. It's got its sad moments and its moments of triumph, it's a story easy to believe into and a heroine who you feel for. I enjoyed it very much but I've no clue who to recommend it to. Mostly to people who enjoy historical fiction, I reckon.

* * *
Мне очень пришлась по вкусу эта книга, хоя она понравится не каждому.

Натуралистическая История Драконов читается как исторический мемуар с парой фэнтэзийных элементов - альтернативным миром  и самим существованием драконов. Всё остальное читается как что-то, что могло бы выйти из под пера Джонатана Харкера.

Изабелла, леди Трент рассказывает о своём детстве и как началась её одержимость изучением драконов, о её замужестве с Джакобом, который разделял её страсть к натурализму и наконец о первой экспедиции, которая позволила ей работать с самими драконами непосредственно.

Вистрана, в которую она путешествует со своими компаньонами напоминает глубинку в какой-либо восточно европейской стране (или России), с её странными устаревшими обычаями и суевериями. Леди Трент рассказывает как трудно ей было приспособиться к людям, к языку и деревне, в которой исследователи останавливаются.

Драконы в области, где они находятся ведут себя очень странно и атакуют людей. От натуралистов зависит узнать почему это происходит и остановить драконов. Все, что следует за этим напоминает мистичный детектив с политическими интригами, контрабандистами и опасностью со стороны невидимого врага. Мемуар вышел грустный, меланхоличный, но очень милый. Мне понравилось.


Blodeuedd said...

It just sounds so different :) Either it would work for me, or not at all

Aurian said...

Great review thank you. I think I would like to read this, and hope it is not too dry.

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

Oh I did want to review this one, but couldn't as I'm to backed up. But sounds like a great read. Thank you!

Ellie Warren said...

I love the cover and think I still want to read it...although knowing my luck when (if) it comes out in the UK it will have a different cover.

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

Blodeuedd, it's an odd book. You won't know until you try :)

Aurian, I hope you read it!

Melissa, too many books too little time I know! :)

Ellie, I hope they won't change it. It's a lovely cover.

Ula (Blog of Erised) said...

I look forward to reading this book, looks pretty great! :)

Petra said...

This book sounds wonderful, I like odd things. :) Also, the idea of a pseudo Eastern European country is intriguing!
And the cover is just amazing!

Micheline D said...

I'm really intrigued by this one & being that I absolutely love fantasy reads (even ones with lengthy descriptives) I think I'd really enjoy this one! Glad you did too, awesome review & thanks for stopping by earlier ♥

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