“Entomologists trap insects in their killing jars and then pin their corpses to cards, and no one utters a single squeak of protest. For that matter, let a gentleman hunt a tiger for its skin, and everyone applauds his courage. But to shoot a dragon for science? That, for some reason, is cruel.”
Lady Trent is a world-renowned dragon naturalist, having traveled all over to document and study the creature, bringing knowledge to all. And it is about time she wrote her memoirs. In A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan, readers follow Lady Trent, formerly known as Isabella, to her first exploration in the mountains of Vystrana, where discoveries, both scientific and political, are made.
*Review may contain spoilers*
I’ve never been what one would call a huge fan of dragons. Hell, even the ones in GOT don’t have my interest (well, except for the new Viserion, he’s pretty cool) but I’ve been meaning to just read up and learn the basics, you know? And that’s what I assumed this book might end up being.
The beginning half was great. The initial premise had my attention immediately; it gave plenty of context and solidified Isabella’s reasons for wanting to go on the exploration. When they reached Vystrana I was geared up for epic encounters with wild dragons, and learning their anatomy, biology, and habits.
Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.
There were probably two, maybe three, moments where any of the above occurred, and even that’s iffy. At most all there was was ‘we know nothing about these creatures!’ and dragons attacking anything that moved.
The main problem was despite Isabella’s personal studying of dragons and basic animal anatomy she knew nothing coming into the entire exploration, and basically, BS’d her way through. In fact, she kept calling herself a ‘scientist’ when that was hardly the case. She sketched a single dragon and looked under a microscope once.
I started comparing her to Jane from Disney’s Tarzan before I finished, but, thankfully, I thought better of it because that’s a rude thing to do to Jane.
This whole ‘scientist’ thing might have worked had it not been for the most glaring, obnoxious reason of all time: Isabella lives in a world where Victorian morals rule and women aren’t supposed to do shit even though we’re in a world with freaking dragons, and possibly magic. All I could think was, “WTF.”
Initially I was glad Brennan set this in a time other than medieval, but when the main character complains time and time again about how ‘women can’t’ and ‘women aren’t’ nonsense it makes you want to throw the book to the ground, yelling, ‘Then fucking do something about it!”
Which led to the second half of this book accomplishing nothing pertaining to the original plot yet it’s apparently important to know it’s a freaking miracle Isabella hasn’t died from her clumsiness or been abandoned by everyone since she’s completely unaware her actions affect them just as much as they do her.
Also, that ‘major’ death was total bullshit, and that’s is all I’m going to say on the matter.
I’m trying to hold back on ranting, but it’s just so easy when you spend over 300 pages on a book that falls flatter than the horizon.
I did enjoy the older version of Isabella, Lady Trent, and it’s the only thing making me somewhat interested to read the other books in this series, hopeful Isabella gets some sense knocked into her head and the dragon stuff finally takes off.