A Natural History of Dragons 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. 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.
If natural history and Victorian England interest you, the A Natural History of Dragons is the perfect book for you. Lady Trent provides the first volume of her memoirs cataloging her transition from gentlewoman to world renowned natural historian and adventurer. In a land so British it may have well have just been called England, women are expected to be wives, mothers, and accomplished socialites, not scholars or, heaven forbid, OUTDOORSY types. But Isabella has never been like the other girls, and through a series of increasingly unbelievable events she is able to not only follow her passions, but finds she is rather good at it. She has enough spunk and sarcasm to please even Maggie Smith, and plenty of good luck to boot. And did I mention dragons?
A fun, lighthearted read, A Natural History of Dragons was a great addition to the dragon section of my bookshelf. While elements of the book could have been better (seriously, Brennen should have just set it in England), overall it was well-written. I certainly enjoyed this unique take on dragon lore, and may even go and read the sequel.