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A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent [Hardcover]

Marie Brennan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2013 Natural History of Dragons (Book 1)
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... From Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, Isabella, Lady Trent is known 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 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 and natural history 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 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.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (5 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765331969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765331960
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

"A rich and absorbing tale." --Publishers Weekly

"Beautifully done... a great Victorian adventure story of danger and bravery with illustrations from Isabella s sketchbook to delight any cryptozoologist." --Fortean Times

"Its mix of historical writing, anthropological accounts and dragons combines to form a solid storyline, a great setting and a memorable character in Lady Trent." --The Cult Den

"It's a compelling book, with the authority of a great writer, and it's the start of what surely will be a wonderful series." --The Book Bag

"After reading this book, I found I couldn't wait to read more about Lady Trent and her escapades around the world of dragons. It is a truly inspiring read." --SF Site

"Which fantasy reader doesn't like dragons!? Well if you are into this theme, don't look any further. Marie Brennan brings you the only book you will need." --The Book Plank

"Full of spirit and intelligence...Marie Brennan has a background in archaeology, anthropology and folklore, and this really shows in her writing. The front cover is genius and along with the illustrations inside, complements the story perfectly. A must read for dragon fans and definitely one to try for readers of fantasy." --Bookshelf Butterfly

"A strong female narrator, an interesting and action packed story, exotic locations and the odd dragon... I am certainly looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the next instalment." - A Book Worm

Brennan s elegant voice captures the flavor of Victorian-era scientific adventure. The self-deprecating first-person memoir-style narration keeps the plot lively and entertaining. --World Magazine

"I hope you have the pleasure of reading this book." --ISpectrum Magazine

"Marie Brennan has skilfully woven natural history, anthropology and even a little archaeology into an enthralling tale which leaves you desperately wanting to befriend Lady Trent and go on an adventure with her." --Woodland Wild

"A memorable main character with an engaging narrative voice. I m looking forward to reading more of Lady Trent s adventures... as I found the first volume of her memoirs utterly charming." ----Fantasy Book Cafe

"After reading this book, I found I couldn't wait to read more about Lady Trent and her escapades around the world of dragons. It is a truly inspiring read." --SF Site

"Which fantasy reader doesn't like dragons!? Well if you are into this theme, don't look any further. Marie Brennan brings you the only book you will need." --The Book Plank

"Full of spirit and intelligence...Marie Brennan has a background in archaeology, anthropology and folklore, and this really shows in her writing. The front cover is genius and along with the illustrations inside, complements the story perfectly. A must read for dragon fans and definitely one to try for readers of fantasy." --Bookshelf Butterfly --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Marie Brennan is the author of nine novels, including the Doppelganger and Onyx Court series. Her novel With Fate Conspire won Kirkus Review Best Fiction of the Year. She won two Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Grand Prizes in 2003, and has received honourable mentions for Years Best Science Fiction and Years Best Fantasy and Horror. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So different! 15 Feb 2013
By Chantal Lyons VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm a sucker for anything to do with dragons, from Game Of Thrones to Tamora Pierce's stuff to Dragonology. The gorgeous cover of this book instantly caught my eye, as did the blurb. It's that rare kind of book you just know you are going to enjoy.

And enjoy it I did. The narrator, who tells her story as a memoir, has an instantly likeable voice. The story is set in a fictional Victorian-like world, perhaps a little bare-boned, but suitably fleshed out for the plot. Victorian mores rule; our indomitable narrator yearns to break free of social constraints, and realise her childhood dream: studying dragons.

So much care has been put into giving life to the dragons in this book, from their appearances to their behaviour to their physiology. There's no romanticism of them; many stories gift dragons with an intelligence comparable to humans, but here they are presented much more as animal, something I found refreshingly different.

The Victorian-style setting really does enhance the story, enriching the narrator's witty voice and providing the sense of a world teetering on the cusp of industrialisation, something that will surely come into conflict with the existence of the dragons (indeed, in the story, they are already said to have declined or be declining in many parts of the world). The book even manages to make itself relevant to our own real, contemporary world - at one point, the narrator defends herself and her fellow researchers for shooting a dragon for the purposes of scientific study, and argues how hypocritical her countrymen are for decrying the killing of animals abroad which at home they would not hesitate to kill for their own comfort or safety.

The plot is, probably, the weakest component of the book, if only because the others are so strong.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Victorian Memoir with dragons thrown in! 1 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by a friend, and after glancing through it in bookshop I had to buy it, if only for the beautiful illustrations and cover art! These are out-and-out gorgeous, really adding to one's pleasure when reading the story.

The book takes the form of a memoir (or rather the first in a collection of memoirs) written by Lady Isabella Trent, a most distinguished 'character' who has spent her life studying dragons. From the get-go I was entirely taken in by Brennan's competent characterisation of Lady Brent. She is an absolutely perfect narrator, and I spent the whole story really caring for her and wanting her to succeed in all her exploits.

Being the first - assumedly - in a collection of memoirs, this book does begin with Lady Brent's girlhood. It can therefore be seen as a coming-of-age story, which might possibly put some people off. However, I personally found these sections of the book to be the most enjoyable. I really liked finding out how a young woman from an up-tight Victorian-style world ends up as a respected figure in the study of dragons. The story goes on to document Lady Trent's first research trip abroad, to a somewhat backward mountain region, clearly meant to reflect Eastern Europe in the 19th century. Personally, I found this section of the book not nearly as interesting as the first. I think that the main issue for me was the fact that dragons seem to take a back-seat. While Lady Trent and her companions are conducting their research, the story somehow manages to swing round into becoming a 'murder-mystery', which, though not especially bad, didn't hold the same level of interest for me. I was looking forward to far more in the dragon department!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well done. 29 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Went into this with the wrong impression. I assumed it was going to be a fictional guide to the biology/history of dragons in a similar vein to the various "War Fighting Manuals" by Den Patrick. In reality it starts like a memoir but eventually settles into a narrative of the first expedition by the lead character. Nice marriage of fantasy tropes with a mystery (with a bit of travelogue thrown in for good measure).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By C. Ball TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
I'm not much of a fantasy reader but I do have a soft spot for dragons, so when I find a novel that combines dragons and intellectual scholarship in a mock-Victorian setting it's a fair conclusion I'm going to enjoy it.

I didn't enjoy this book. I loved it. I couldn't put it down. I was hooked within a few pages and just rattled through the rest in a single day. Isabella Camherst is such an engaging narrator, and as a woman I could particularly identify with her restless nature, her desire to be more than the patriarchal society of her time would allow, her keen mind and inquisitive nature. I would have wanted to go on an expedition to study dragons too!

And I love that as much as this is a rollicking adventure story, it is also very much a story about knowledge, about those who seek it, about why knowledge for its own sake matters, about how much of our world (although this isn't our world, albeit very much akin to it) has been driven by people of inexhaustible curiosity. There aren't many fantasy-adventure novels starring naturalists, but this has to be one of the very best.

There are hints, particularly at the end, that this novel isn't a standalone, and I sincerely hope that's true. I would dearly love to read more about Isabella Camherst, not least of which is to find out how she becomes Lady Trent!
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