The Tropic of Serpents: Marie Brennan

★★★★

A Memoir by Lady Trent: Book II

The irrepressible naturalist and explorer Isabella Camhurst is back for a new adventure. This time she and her fellow researcher Thomas Wilker are planning to set off for the exotic continent of Eriga, funded by their ever-generous patron Lord Hilford, in order to research the draconic fauna of the country of Bayembe. Their aims are, as always, purely scientific, but Isabella is to find herself drawn into a veritable jungle of complications, both diplomatic and political. For Bayembe is a country on the brink of war and, if Isabella is to fulfill her scientific ambitions, she is going to have to make some hard choices about where her loyalties lie. Told in Brennan’s pitch-perfect narrative voice, this is a spirited romp best described as a Victorian Indiana Jones with dragons.

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A Natural History of Dragons: Marie Brennan

★★★★

A Memoir by Lady Trent: Book I

Authors have tackled dragons in many ways over the years: Tolkien’s shrewd, gold-hoarding Smaug; Anne McCaffrey’s magnificent bond-beasts; and, more recently, Naomi Novik’s intelligent and well-meaning Temeraire. With the first of Marie Brennan’s delightful fantasy novels, I’ve been introduced to another take on the subject, in which dragons are just another breed of fauna to be studied – albeit long-clawed and lethal – a challenge taken on by the plucky, well-born bluestocking naturalist, Isabella Camherst.

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