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WesternSFA
A Natural History of Dragons
A Memoir by Lady Trent
by Marie Brennan
TOR Books; $15.99; 352pp
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
This is as charming as they come: a pseudo-Victorian ladies journal/memoir looking back on how the narrator became a well-known expert in the natural history: anatomy, biology, habits, etc. of dragons.

This is Brennan’s own world, however. There is not a common city or land mentioned here.

But the flavor is very Victorian. Her narrator has a wonderful reserved voice. This may sound silly, but for me a nice cuppa tea in a china tea cup with scones is just the perfect companion to this tale.

It’s a very constricted world for women and our narrator, Mrs. Isabella Camherst is a woman who was lucky enough to have an indulgent father and even luckier, to attract an indulgent, intelligent husband in Jacob Camherst who shares her love of all things dragons.

The bulk of this story takes place in the hilly land of Vystrana , in and around the village of Drustanev where Jacob and Isabella, along with the delightfully eccentric Lord Hilford and his assistant Mr. Wilker have set up their base. They are going to explore and hunt up as much information as they can on the Vystrani rock-wyrm of which little is known. Actually little is known of most dragons. They are shot for trophies but no one has bothered to find out the intricacies of the dragon biology and habits. One interesting tidbit: dragons blow out icy breath when they are about to attack: not flames.

They pick the land of Vystrana which is rather Hungarian in flavor to my mind—and over-lorded by a boyar in a rather Russian style approach.

But their discoveries about the Vystrani dragons are almost over-shadowed by the mystery of their missing host, Jindrik Gritelkin, who had set up the permissions to stay in Drustanev at his home---but he never shows up.

And his fate remains a mystery pretty much throughout the novel. But what is going on in the dragon graveyard caverns discovered by Isabella and friends can change a great deal of what people know of dragons, and even more, how people perceive the creatures.

There is danger and confrontations with dragons and smugglers. This is an adventure after all. The book is wonderfully illustrated by detailed drawings by Todd Lockwood and maps provided by Rhys Davies.

If you like dragons even a crumb—this is definitely your book—and there are more volumes to come. ~~ Sue Martin

For reviews of other books in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series click here.

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