Monday, February 11, 2013

Book of the Week - A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan.


This fictional memoir of Isabella, Lady Trent, a woman of Scirland, which seems to bear a good resemblance to 19th century England tells of her earliest adventures. As a young girl she was fascinated by sparklings, the insect like creatures that looked like tiny dragons and a book her father had purchased, A Natural History of Dragons but science was not really an appropriate hobby for a young woman of her social class. When her brother takes her on a visit to the King's menagerie she finally sees real dragons in the flesh, albeit stunted runt sized dragons, and meets one of suitors who had been on her parents' list of suitable young men. With their common interest in natural science Isabella is soon wedded to Jacob Camherst. They jump at the chance to go on a scientific expedition led by Lord Hilford to the mountains of Vystrana to study the variety of dragons called rock-wyrms. In a small village, their party of four, set up a base off operations despite the villagers antipathy toward them. They discover the local dragons have started killing people, they explore an ancient ruin, and encounter dangers, both natural and political. This is a delightful read with the appeal of good historical fiction (even though it isn't our world), a protagonist with a strong distinctive voice, and interesting world building. The emphasis on science is quite appealing. Isabella reminded me of an older Kate deVries, Airborn. This satisfying read will have broad appeal. And the Preface offers hope for many more adventures.

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