Review: Within the Sanctuary of Wings

Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan

Series: Memoirs of Lady Trent
Genre: Fantasy

Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating:
⋆⋆⋆

After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent–dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.

And yet–after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia–the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure–scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland’s enemies–and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.


Reviewing book five in a series seems so pointless, because there’s not much to say about this book that I didn’t say about the previous four. It’s in the same vein, no major changes, and a satisfying conclusion to the series.

Continue reading “Review: Within the Sanctuary of Wings”

Review: In the Labyrinth of Drakes

In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan

Series: The Memoirs of Lady Trent
Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 2
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Even those who take no interest in the field of dragon naturalism have heard of Lady Trent’s expedition to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia. Her discoveries there are the stuff of romantic legend, catapulting her from scholarly obscurity to worldwide fame. The details of her personal life during that time are hardly less private, having provided fodder for gossips in several countries.

As is so often the case in the career of this illustrious woman, the public story is far from complete. In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Royal Scirling Army; how foreign saboteurs imperiled both her work and her well-being; and how her determined pursuit of knowledge took her into the deepest reaches of the Labyrinth of Drakes, where the chance action of a dragon set the stage for her greatest achievement yet.


This is the best Lady Trent memoir yet! It’s not often that a series gets better and better as it goes, but in this series each book has been better than the last. Brennan finally finds her stride in this one, having put together exactly the book I wanted to read.

Continue reading “Review: In the Labyrinth of Drakes”

Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4+
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.


Okay. So. It has been a loooooong time since an epic fantasy has lived up to my expectations. But The Priory of the Orange Tree managed to deliver on a stand-alone story that was intriguing, surprising, romantic, and exciting all at once. By the end of the novel I was turning pages so quickly that my brain could barely keep up with my eyeballs.

Continue reading “Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree”

Review: The Voyage of the Basilisk

The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

21893608Series: The Memoirs of Lady Trent
Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal.

Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.


The Voyage of the Basilisk is in the same vein as the earlier novels in the series, so how you felt about those would definitely determine whether you liked this one. If you HAVEN’T read A Natural History of Dragons, definitely read that first. This novel could stand alone, I guess, but would be enjoyed better as part of the series. Continue reading “Review: The Voyage of the Basilisk”

Review: Guards! Guards!

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

64216Series: Discworld
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


Here there be dragons . . . and the denizens of Ankh-Morpork wish one huge firebreather would return from whence it came. Long believed extinct, a superb specimen of draco nobilis (“noble dragon” for those who don’t understand italics) has appeared in Discworld’s greatest city. Not only does this unwelcome visitor have a nasty habit of charbroiling everything in its path, in rather short order it is crowned King (it is a noble dragon, after all . . .).

Meanwhile, back at Unseen University, an ancient and long-forgotten volume–The Summoning of Dragons–is missing from the Library’s shelves. To the rescue come Captain Vimes, Constable Carrot, and the rest of the Night Watch who, along with other brave citizens, risk everything, including a good roasting, to dethrone the flying monarch and restore order to Ankh-Morpork (before it’s burned to a crisp). 


WARNING: This book does not have chapters.

I wanted to love this book. I really did. Its exactly the kind of book I could like, a silly, goofball fantasy featuring dragons. But… I didn’t.  Continue reading “Review: Guards! Guards!”

Favorite Dragon Books

It’s not much of a secret around here that I absolutely love dragons. Any type of dragon! Big dragons, small dragons, tame dragons, wild dragons, evil dragons, dragons that fly, dragons that don’t, fire breathing dragons, gold hoarding dragons, intelligent dragons, non-talking dragons, I pretty much love them all. My favorite dragon books usually present dragons in a new or different way from the books I’m used to reading.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of my favorite books about or featuring dragons.

His Majesty’s Dragon

28876An alternate history of the Napoleonic Wars where in addition to the army and navy, each side has an aeronautical division.

“When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.”

If you enjoy historical fiction and fantasy, this mash-up is absolutely brilliant! Continue reading “Favorite Dragon Books”

Review: His Majesty’s Dragon

28876His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

Series: Temeraire
Genres: Fantasy, Alternate History, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆


Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.


I always get so excited when I have a chance to re-read His Majesty’s Dragon. It’s a fun fusion of historical fiction and fantasy. It’s just as hard to go wrong with the Napoleonic Era as it is to go wrong with dragons. While not the most serious novel ever written, it is so much fun to read, which is why I’ve read it so many times now. Looking forward to seeing Temeraire and Lawrence next time I pick it up.

Review: The Tropic of Serpents

17910078The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

Series: The Memoirs of Lady Trent
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before. 


I want you to use your imagination for a minute. Imagine you are watching an Indiana Jones movie. Now, imagine that instead of opening with a great action-packed adventure sequence, the movie starts at the university. Maybe Dr. Jones is lecturing, the girls staring happily at him. Now, imagine that Indy stays at the university for the first HALF HOUR with no adventure whatsoever.

That’s what reading The Tropic of Serpents was like. Continue reading “Review: The Tropic of Serpents”

Review: A Natural History of Dragons

12974372A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Series: The Memoirs of Lady Trent
Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


“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?

Continue reading “Review: A Natural History of Dragons”

Throwback Thursday: Eragon

IMG_20170615_073317_366Ahhh, high school.

I know so many people look back on high school with anger or unhappiness, but not me. I was the world’s biggest band nerd, and my high school band was the most accepting and caring group of human beings I have ever been a part of. I had friends, so many friends, good friends, and encountered very little of the cattiness, cliques, and bullying that dominate so many high schools. I was a part of something, and I felt like I mattered. That’s special, and I treasure it.

So unlike most people, I look back on my high school experience fondly.

But honestly, I’ve been thinking about it all day, and I can’t remember what books I used to read.

I mean, I remember a few of them, but I know I was an avid reader, and I just genuinely can’t think of enough books to account for all of that time. One of the few books I definitely remember, however, is Eragon. 

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Eragon”