Sunday, 28 June 2015

Book Review: A Natural History Of Dragons; Marie Brennan.

My goodness, I can't believe how successful my reading month has been so far! I have not had a single negative reading experience, and it has been amazing getting to read some truly great works by some fantastic authors. This book has by far been my favourite in June, and I gave it an instant 5 star rating when I was merely three chapters in, deciding that if something went horrendously wrong I would lower my rating. Of course, nothing did and so here is my review!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: A Natural History Of Dragons
AUTHOR: Marie Brennan
SERIES: Memoir By Lady Trent (#1)
PUBLISHER: Tor Books
PAGES: 334
GENRE: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Memoir

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Blurb:
"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 pre-eminent 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.

What I Liked:
  • I'll start with Brennan's fantastic writing style, that was really the thing that drew me into this story. I haven't encountered a huge host of stories told in the style of a memoir, but I have decided that it really is a format that I enjoy because of this book. I loved the frequent side notes added by the elderly Lady Trent on the details of her life and her naivety/stupidity at the time that the story was set. The style in which Brennan wrote was truly captivating also and very creative. It certainly made the plot-line tropes that I have seen frequently in the past feel original.
  • The heroine herself, Lady Trent (or Isabella Camherst as the book frequently refers to her) has fast become one of my favourites of all time. She was strong, courageous, passionate and witty. Not only that but I found her constant sense of adventure and spirited nature uplifting in almost every sense of the word. I didn't even mind so much when she made reckless decisions. It was nice to read from a female point of view where the lady in question, despite not liking the situation they are in, doesn't spend the entire book whining. Also, her relationship with Jacob warmed my heart so much that I couldn't not love these two as a pairing.
What I Disliked:
  • I suppose a good one to put here is the ending. Not that it wasn't well-written because actually in terms of a finale it was very well-constructed and left me wanting more. But on a whole new level, it totally broke my heart to the point that I almost cried in a public place and kept giving Mat distressed looks. It was the most action-packed part of the book but I need to recover from it.
Overall Conclusion:
I adored this book from start to finish, mostly because I am a little like Isabella and love to learn. Obviously Dragons are mythical creatures, but it was so interesting not just to see them killing/roaring/breathing fire/etc. but also to see some of the science behind how they would fly/their hunting habits/generally what makes them tick. It made for very good world-building and lore (though I would love to see more of that in Book 2). At times I did find myself skimming ever so slightly, but not enough to be concerned about.