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The Tropic of Serpents: A Memoir by Lady Trent
Marie Brennan
Titan Books, 352 pages

The Tropic of Serpents: 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
SF Site Review: A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent

A review by Sandra Scholes

From the author who brought readers A Natural History of Dragons, this novel chronicles Lady Trent's journey through Vystrana to her further adventures on expedition through Eriga where she hopes to encounter the swamp wyrm of legend. She isn't alone though. There are two who wanted to explore with her as she has developed a following as a dragon naturalist. Readers will be happy to hear it's not all swamps, jungles and palm trees; she has more to deal with when she reaches the largest jungle of them all, the Green Hell. There she will need to use all her intelligence and common sense to get her out of the difficulties that will arise.

The author of nine novels, Marie Brennan has also won the Kirkus Review Best Fiction of the Year, the Isaac Asimov Awards for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Grand Prizes in 2003 as well as honourable mention for Year's Best Science Fiction and Year's Best Fantasy & Horror. We follow the adventures of Lady Trent with Todd Lockwood's amazing illustration of dragons, places, wildlife and tribal people. In A Natural History of Dragons, readers of fantasy and history were treated to a journey of immense proportions to discover dragons among dinosaurs. Although it's not the sort of thing a woman of that day did, Lady Trent set the standard for being one of the first lady explorers and naturalists who dared to resist the conformity put on her by her so-called betters.

As Indiana Jones was to men, Lady Trent's character is to women with an urge to explore, though Lady Trent's reasons for exploring aren't about finding sacred objects. Her love of dragons has led her to the jungle of the Green Hell, one of the most notorious and dangerous of them all. The Tropic of Serpents reads like a regency romance with the added elements of fantasy and adventure.

After her husband died in Vystrana, her son thinks there is the possibility that she could die in Eriga. He can't be blamed for thinking that since his mother is away enjoying herself in dangerous surroundings most of the time. She could come across the impossible and dangerous, but her enterprising spirit makes her accept that she has to take the rough with the smooth while out in the wild. She had already done the womanly things that made her a lady of genteel origin, marry, raise a child and later she discovered she wanted more out of life.

The fact that not many understand her needs is typical of the times she is living in. There is also a humanitarian question in this book where Lady Trent worries over how the dragon bones she finds will be looked after, and whether they will be collected and sold like elephant tusks and rhino horn are today. Her devotion to her work can be seen by her impressive resolve while out exploring. She doesn't let her parents or other members of the family take control of her life. She isn't like other women and she's made that clear to them even if they don't like it. Eriga is famous for its sea snakes and the reason it's called the Tropic of Serpents, but it does have other inhabitants; elephants, wild pigs, and half naked tribal men. In the book, Todd Lockwood takes us through the places of natural beauty while Marie Brennan brings Lady Trent and her other characters to life in this intense and enigmatic adventure.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

So far Sandra has been doing some exploring of her own with writing poetry… for those with Twitter they can have a look at some of her haiku @sandrareviewer. Her reviews can be read from Fantasy Book Review, The British Fantasy Society, Diverse Japan and Love Romance Passion.

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