Review

Review: A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

A Natural History of Dragons is what you get when you take the sort of memoir written by upper-class female explorers of the nineteenth-century, and add dragons. The writing style as well as the world which Isabella inhabits is not our world, but very similar. In fact, if it were not for the various countries named that Isabella visits or knows of, then I would assume it was our world. Although I am an avid reader of epic fantasies, I also really appreciate and enjoy these more ‘subtle’ fantasy tales, where just one element is a little bit different, or there is something extra.

I was completely enthralled from the start of the book. Being a memoir, we learn of some of Isabella’s childhood, namely how she grew to become obsessed with studying dragons. This is, of course, a most unsuitable activity for a lady of her station, but she finds ways around it until it is impossible to stop her pursuing her passion. To be honest, I have to say that I found the sections of the book before her first major expedition to be the most interesting – they built up the world and society, with a social system not that dissimilar from nineteenth-century Britain. I felt more of Isabella’s passion and love for dragons within the first few chapters, than anywhere else in the book.

In terms of Isabella as a character, she was a fun protagonist – I always love to see studious characters who have something they are really passionate about – but she did occasionally have a bit of an ‘I’m not like other girls attitude’, which can be very grating. She also made a few questionable (read: stupid) decisions that seemed a little out of character for someone so intelligent, although I suppose book smart is not street smart… Her husband was a sweetie, and I would have liked to see their relationship develop a little bit more.

Overall, this was a really solid and fun fantasy read. I loved how Isabella followed her interests and her passion for dragons, even though it was entirely improper for a young lady of her standing. Defying all social expectations of her peers, she did not let them stop her or slow her down. What I would have liked was more detailed information about the various dragons – the book title kind of implies that there might be a lot more ‘scientific’ information than there was, but is in fact named after a book that Isabella holds very dear. I did lose focus on the story about two-thirds of the way through, but the beginning was just so wonderful that I felt it made up for it. One more thing though… can we have even more dragons next time?

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My Top Ten Series To Continue Reading in 2016

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Inspired partly by Amber reminding me that I need to hurry up and read the rest of the Mistborn series, here are the series I want to continue reading in 2016. This only includes books that are already published. Next week I plan on sharing the series I’ve given up on…

Hero of Ages The Alloy of Law Shadows of Self

I love Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series soooo much – well, the two books of it that I’ve read. So I really need to get my arse in gear and read the remainder of the currently published books, especially as Gollancz sent me a beautiful hardcover of Shadows of Self just before it came out. I’m looking out for some good deals – perhaps 3 for 2 in Waterstones or something – to get myself copies of books three and four.

Voyager Drums of Autumn The Fiery Cross

I fell in love with the Outlander series by Diana Galbaldon in 2015, both the television adaptation and the books. As with Mistborn, I’ve read the first two books but no further. However, most of the rest of the series is waiting for me on my shelf, minus book six and the most recent release, which I’m waiting for in paperback. I can’t wait to escape back to Jamie and Claire, but I have to space these books out because they’re just so huge and epic.

The Tropic of Serpents The Voyage of the Basilisk

I finally read the first book in this series, A Natural History of Dragons at the end of last year. But I still have two more books to go with Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. Titan sent me a copy of the third book, and I can’t wait to get to it – I just need to pick up a copy of book two, although I’m pretty sure my local library has a copy.

Red Seas Under Red Skies The Republic of Thieves

The first book in the Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch was a previous Fantasy Book of the Month for my Goodreads book group. I enjoyed it quite a lot – perhaps not as much as some of the other books we’ve read together, but definitely enough to want to continue. I found the second book in a free (!) book shop, the third I requested on Netgalley when I first started blogging, long before I realised it was part of a series. So not only will this allow me to catch up with the series in time for the release of the fourth book this year, but it will help me tackle my Netgalley ratio.

The Merchant of Dreams The Prince of Lies

Having bought the first book in the Night’s Masque series by Anne Lyle at Bristolcon last year, I was completely swept away by the author’s fantasy version of Elizabethan England and the court politics at the time. I’d love to finish the trilogy soon – this is one of the very few series on this list that is actually completely published.

Queen of Sorcery Magician's Gambit Castle of Wizardry

I was first introduced to the Belgariad series by David Eddings by two of my friends in Leiden. Once they knew I was really into reading, particularly fantasy fiction, they told me I had to try this series and were amazed that I’d not heard of it before they mentioned it. Anyway, the sweeties that they are, they clubbed together to buy me the first book for my birthday – and they were right, I really enjoyed it. It’s quite a long series if you also count the two other series that link into it, but each book is fairly short, especially for fantasy novels.

Before They Are Hanged Last Argument of Kings

The first book of The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie was another one of my book group’s choices for Fantasy Book of the Month. And again, it was something I put off reading for far too long, and I am repeating that with the sequels – both of which are sat on my bookshelf!

The Black Lung Captain The Iron Jackal The Ace of Skulls

Chris Wooding’s Tales of the Ketty Jay series is a perfect, perfect series for fans of the TV series Firefly (taken too early RIP), who are looking for something in book-form to quench that Firefly thirst. Or at least that’s what I assume – because have I read the entire series? No. No I have not. Despite absolutely LOVING the first book and thinking it was everything I needed post-Firefly, I haven’t even touched the sequels. NEED. TO. CHANGE. THAT.

Rebel Spring Gathering Darkness Frozen Tides

I picked up the first book in the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes a year or two ago, thinking it looked like some fun Young Adult fantasy fiction. It was – but I also fell a little bit in love with it. Now apparently the FIFTH book is scheduled for release this year and I haven’t even picked up the second – get a move on, Rinn!

Caliban's War Abaddon's Gate Cibola Burn

The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey is another of my book group’s monthly picks. We have read the first book together, but I have book two waiting me on my shelf. The first book has recently been made into a television series, and I’d quite like to make sure I’m caught up with the books by the time the series catches up to them!

What series are you planning on continuing? Have you read any of these?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: November 2015

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

 

The Emperor's Blades Golden Son Edge of Tomorrow Feed Ubik Illuminae The HIve Construct Clariel by Garth Nix A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Brooklyn

 

Last month I read a total of ten books: The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1) by Brian Staveley, Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown, Edge of Tomorrow by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy #1) by Mira Grant, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill, Clariel (The Old Kingdom #4) by Garth Nix, A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan and Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.

As last month was Sci-Fi Month, I tried to read as much science fiction as possible. Golden Son was definitely the stand-out book of the month, and my review will be posted in January, as part of the readalong in preparation for the release of Morning Star! I also particularly enjoyed Ubik, from one of the masters of science fiction, Philip K. Dick. In true PKD style, it’s odd but so, so unique and wonderful. Brooklyn was sweet, not at all my usual sort of book but I went to see the film with my mum when I visited my parents last week, and it was a gorgeous film, which encouraged me to pick up the book.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read two books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge. The final villain of the challenge is Mister Sinister.
  • I have currently read 90 books towards my Goodreads goal of 100.

 

Currently reading:

The 100
How was November for you?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #15: Fantasy ‘Pick & Mix’

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to recommend fantasy novels, depending on what element you would like to read about.

I’ve chosen a selection of fantasy books, picked out some of the main themes or features of each, and then divided them accordingly. The idea is that you can pick one or more elements you’d like to read about, and pick a book from that category. Even better if a book crosses several different categories – which is where the ‘pick & mix’ comes in! When it comes to series I’ve generally only included the first book from each, unless the sequels contain elements that the previous books do not.

The categories are: Assassins, Dark, Dragons, Dwarves & Elves, Historical, Magic, Monsters, Political, Quest, Royalty and Thieves.

Assassins
Assassins
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Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas; Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore; The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence; Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers; Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb; The Last Wish (The Witcher Saga #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski; Pyramids (Discworld #7) by Terry Pratchett.

Dark Theme
Dark

A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett; The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch; The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe; The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie; The Left Hand Of God (The Left Hand of God #1) by Paul Hoffman; The Last Wish (The Witcher Saga #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; Low Town (Low Town #1) by Daniel Polansky; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence.

Dragons
Dragons

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire by J.K. Rowling; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman; The Red Knight (The Traitor Son Cycle #1) by Miles Cameron; A Natural History of Dragons (Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan; A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin; Dragonflight (Pern #1) by Anne McCaffrey; Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8) by Terry Pratchett.

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Dwarves & Elves

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks; Men At Arms (Discworld #15) by Terry Pratchett; The Dwarves (The Dwarves #1) by Markus Heitz; Homeland (Legend of Drizzt #1) by R.A. Salvatore; Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini; Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven #1) by James Barclay.

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Historical

*By historical I mean the book is either based on a historical period, takes place in a historical period but has fantastical elements, or is an alternate history.

Sabriel (The Old Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers; Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; In Camelot’s Shadow (The Paths to Camelot #1) by Sarah Zettel.

Magic
Magic
Magic
Magic

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling; The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks; Sabriel (The Old Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix; The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett; The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss; Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor; The Magicians’ Guild (The Black Magician Trilogy #1) by Trudi Canavan; Elantris by Brandon Sanderson; Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta; The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson; The Wind Singer (Wind on Fire #1) by William Nicholson; Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks; Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule #1) by Trudi Canavan; Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo; Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder; The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas; Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence #1) by Katherine Roberts; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin; The Colour Of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett; Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven #1) by James Barclay; Low Town (Low Town #1) by Daniel Polansky.

Monsters
Monsters

*By monsters I mean a wide variety of things: zombies, centaurs, orcs, goblins, demons etc. Not necessarily all evil!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling; Fire (Graceling #2) by Kristin Cashore; Sabriel (The Old Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix; The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett; Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor; The Last Wish (The Witcher Saga #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski; Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence #1) by Katherine Roberts.

Politics
Politics

The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss; The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch; The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie; The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe; The Left Hand Of God (The Left Hand of God #1) by Paul Hoffman; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder.

Quest
Quest
Quest

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe; Red Country by Joe Abercrombie; Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta; The Wind Singer (Wind on Fire #1) by William Nicholson; Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks; The Princess Bridge by William Goldman; A Natural History of Dragons (Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan; The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas; The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen; Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence #1) by Katherine Roberts; Dragonflight (Pern #1) by Anne McCaffrey.

Royalty
Royalty
Royalty

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas; Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; The Desert Spear (The Demon Cycle #2) by Peter V. Brett; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence; Elantris by Brandon Sanderson; The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson; Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta; The Princess Bride by William Goldman; Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman; Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb; The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas; The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan.

Thieves
Thieves

Bitterblue (Graceling #3) by Kristin Cashore; The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence; The Princess Bride by William Goldman; Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule #1) by Trudi Canavan.

I hope this ‘pick and mix’ list helps you to find some new reads! 🙂