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A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent
Marie Brennan
Titan Books, 352 pages

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent
Marie Brennan
Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Marie Brennan Website
ISFDB Bibliography

A review by Sandra Scholes

Imagine if you had a chance at writing your memoirs of living around dragons just as today's archaeologists have examined the ancient bones of dinosaurs and other early creatures before that. This would be the culmination of a life's work, a dream to most of us who have grown up reading fantasy novels about dragons, so it is no surprise that fantasy and reality have come together to make this novel of exploration.

Marie Brennan is the author of nine novels, Doppleganger and The Onyx Court Series. The novel With Fate Conspire gained her the Kirkus Review Best Fiction of the Year. She has also won two Isaac Asimov Awards for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy winning Grand Prizes in 2003. Based in the US, she lastly has received honourable mentions for Year's Best Science Fiction and Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Fantasy and horror are no stranger to Titan Books as they have published such well-known authors as Stephen King, Christopher Priest and Kim Newman.

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent is a perfect Valentine's Day treat for a woman and also an excellent early Easter present as Lady Trent, or Isabella to her friends, has a desire to be the world's authority on dragons. Going against everything she had been taught, she leaves in search of the mountains of Vystrana where she comes across findings that could change the way people would think about dragons. Lady Trent isn't your usual woman; she likes to read more often than not, instead of doing more ladylike things. She has a deep understanding of science and her higher intelligence is what separates her from her fellow women.

From the moment you open the book and you come to the first couple of maps of Anthiope and Drustanev, both drawn by Rhys Davies, showing the route she would take into the dreaded mountains that would cause her to make some of the most intriguing finds. Wizards of the Coast artist Todd Lockwood has drawn the cover and interior artwork so you are in no doubt as to what the novel is about. In fact there are very few illustrations in this book that aren't about dragons as the dragons are supposed to be what Lady Trent has found on her travels. The preface starts at the end of her journey where she mentions she has had mail from other girls who share her interest to make something of their lives rather than what is considered to be the norm. To think that she had done what most male pioneers would not dare -- to put themselves in peril by being in the same place where they end up face-to-face with a dragon may have been unheard of.

Lady Trent might be bookish, but she has seen more than most would in their lifetimes. Her first encounter with a dragon was when she saw a dead sparkling outside her home and got the urge to find out more about them and the different species. She serves as the sort of woman many would want to be like when they grow up. Throughout the novel we get to see all the types of dragons, their descriptions and images, one such image is a portrait of Jacob. 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.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

Sandra loves the fact she is getting back into writing fairy tale fiction for Quailbell Magazine again and currently reviews science fiction, fantasy and horror for Hellnotes, The British Fantasy Society and Albedo One.

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