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A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent, #1)
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A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  4,706 ratings  ·  797 reviews
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 farthes...more
Hardcover, 334 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Tor Books
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Community Reviews

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Seak (Bryce L.)
It turns out, and I wouldn't have discovered this without reading A Natural History of Dragons, that I really like dragons slaying, riding, attacking, hoarding, speaking, snoozing, probably even over-easy ... but to witness them studied for science bored me to death.

I feel really bad about this, because there are some great things about this book, I just couldn't wait for it to be over.

A Natural History of Dragons is a memoir of the life of the famous Lady Trent, who tells about her first intere...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
The preface drew me in with its strong voice and promise to relate the adventure-filled career of a lady naturalist in an alternate Victorian age, studying dragons. The book itself is entertaining, but doesn't quite live up to that promise.

A Natural History of Dragons is the first in what looks to be a long series of fictionalized memoirs of Isabella, Lady Trent, a dragon naturalist. In this book, Isabella briefly takes readers through her childhood, courtship and marriage, then moves on to spen...more
Executive Summary: The book has surprisingly few dragons in it for being in the title of the book. It's still a decent book, but I found myself underwhelmed by the end of it.

Full Review
I was hesitant to read this book when it was announced as the December pick for Sword & Laser. I like dragons, but the concept of this book made me apprehensive.

I ended up really enjoying the start of this book though. It really appealed to my inner scientist that wants to categorize things and understand how...more
Originally reviewed on Kirkus' SFF Blog

Be warned, then: the collected volumes of this series will contain frozen mountains, foetid swamps, hostile foreigners, hostile fellow countrymen, the occasional hostile family member, bad decisions, misadventures in orienteering, diseases of an unromantic sort, and a plentitude of mind. You continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart–no more so than the study of dragons itself.

At the age of seven, Lady Isabella Hendemore discovers a lifelon...more
I feel like this book is named incorrectly. A Natural History of Dragons? While it is a memoir of Lady Trent dragons hardly play into it. I was thinking that this might be a book much like The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Spencer Black, but perhaps a bit less mad scientist and more dragon biology.

I was disappointed.

Lady Trent is a woman born in the time where women are expected to attend and host dinner events, not to read books. But after developing a passion for books and dragons at a you...more
Marie Brennan's choice of words was very precise, it confirmed to the type of narrative and obliterated any chance of circumlocutory. Having the story told in the form of a memoir, there was no tedious minutiae, since you'd be advised by the naturalist to find those seemingly insignificant details in other volumes she had published in the past. Practicality at best, if you ask me.

The plot, the characters and the setting, and the highly unfamiliar dragons, made such an indelible impression on me...more
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent follows the adventures of Isabella, a young woman with an obsession with dragons and a passion for natural history. The book is a memoir starting with her awakening fascination with dragons to her first expedition to study them.

I loved the voice Marie Brennan created for Isabella/Lady Trent. She's stuck in an 18th century style culture where women aren't expected to have scientific interests and are expected to behave in a ladylike manner. Isa...more
It took me a while to get round to finishing reading this, even once I was a decent way into it and knew I wanted to finish it. It's a slow sort of book, one I suspect you will either get on with or not based on the narrator and setting. The idea is of a Victorian-era analogue in which dragons exist, and in which one young woman has the opportunity of a lifetime to go and study dragons scientifically after having obsessed over them all her life. The conceit is that it's narrated by her in the fo...more
Anzu The Great Destroyer
I started A Natural History of Dragons thinking that it’s a standalone book. As you know, A Natural History of Dragons is the so called memoir of Isabella, or Lady Trent (whatever you want to call her), who is between the most acclaimed dragon researchers in the book’s universe. It’s needless to say that I was very curious to witness the events that have won Isabella’s title.

There were many things that I loved about this book. Exploring the world from Isabella’s point of view was nice. Marie Br...more
Veronica Belmont

A Natural History of Dragons is the story of Isabella (or Lady Trent, who functions as the story's narrator in her later years). A curious and tomboyish girl who grows up to be fascinated by the Dragon species. This book is different from most traditional takes on the dragon theme, since it's really more like an alternate history story that just happens to feature dragons in it, as opposed to something more high fantasy.

I read a few complaints in the S&L forums that since the na...more
Gina (My Precious Blog)
RATING: 4.5 Stars

INITIAL THOUGHTS: Enjoyable read about a strong lady character enamored by the scientific study of dragons. However, in the age this book is set, this type of educational pursuit is improper for a woman. Its also a story about an expedition in search of dragons which lead to other polictal battles. With beautiful, lyrical language Lady Trent's story is told in first person, holding the reader on the edge of his/her seat throughout the novel.


When a young girl shows more i...more
Wendy Browne
This book was not exactly what I expected. That is to say, there isn't a lot about dragons, much less their history. I was expecting something that could almost be an accompaniment to His Majesty's Dragon, and, if I wanted to get my headcanon on, I could manage a good mash up, with this book being like a prequel where Lady Trent and her ilk are learning about the enigmatic creatures. But alas, this is actually a memoir *of* Lady Trent, by the lady herself. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, bu...more
Bridget Mckinney
There is so much to enjoy about this book.

**Probable spoilers for the first half of the book below.**

1. It's fantasy, but set in a world that is very similar to 19th century Europe. The downside of this is that it has a lot of the same problems that nearly all Regency era and Victorian historical novels have regarding squicky class politics and lack of PoC. The upside is that it's very much a book about gender and how women existed in times when they had far more restrictions on their behavior t...more
A Natural History Of Dragons is a beautifully written book, constructed with remarkable care for details and executed with passion and precision. The novel assumes the style of a memoir and leads the reader on a fascinating journey into the world filled with dragons. Everything - from the phenomenal Victorian/Regency Era atmosphere, coruscating dialogues, unforgettable visuals and - most of all - extraordinary (and perhaps a little bit eccentric) heroine - is to die for!

Lady Trent's uncanny na...more
Nancy O'Toole
A Natural History of Dragons is a solid start to a new fantasy series by Marie Brennan. Brennan really makes the well worn topic of dragons her own by choosing a more science based, as opposed to magic based, focus on dragons. Here dragons are not so much the untouchable treasure-hoarding creatures as they are fascinating specimens. As a result, our heroes in this tale are not sword wielding knights, but scientists, including out heroine, Isabella Trent.

I have read several books by Marie Brennan...more
For a work of Fantasy, it's very realistic. There's no magic here. The author does her very best to ground everything in the book in science. The dragons mentioned in the title aren't mythical beasts. They behave and are treated like an apex predator, with natural abilities that the main characters are able to study. And while the dragons do play an important part, the book is more a portion of the life story of the narrator. About how her curiosity and love of dragons frequently seemed to get h...more
Connie Hirsch
Another book I picked up on the basis of first the subtitle (As Told By Lady Trent), then opened because of the beautiful illustration on the cover. The voice of the narrator, an older woman whom I mentally pictured as being played by Maggie Smith, is perfect. I was utterly charmed all the way through, and I can only hope that the further adventures alluded to in asides by the narratress are followed up on.
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±

Within the first few chapters, I was prepared to love this book. Lady Trent reminded me a bit of Alexia Tarbotti and Amelia Peabody - those anachronistic women of modern pseudo-Victorian tales I enjoy. (Though this world is even more pseudo than the others as it's set either in a different world entirely, or, perhaps, in the far future - but the society and even writing style, complete with multiple chapter sub-titles, remains the same.)

Anyway -

The voice of Lady Trent, the older lady writing...more
First of all Lady Trent is my kind of Dame! The book is a great story that recalls her first journey to meet Dragons. Which in this wonderful novel not only exist but are part of scholarly studies. It recalls our own 19th Century discoveries and methodology. The best part is that it's a fun read and leaves you wanting more. Highly recommended to fantasy and Victorian age fans.
Paola (A Novel Idea)
As soon as I started reading this book, I knew I was going to love it. It's very difficult for me to resist a heroine who recounts her misadventures with both wit and humor, let alone a heroine who dresses as a boy to join a dragon hunt -- with an unloaded rifle. That particular tale is only one of many recounted by Isabella, Lady Trent in these fictional memoirs. Set in an alternate universe with Regency manners, the story unfolds from Isabella's childhood on her family's country estate and tak...more
Jul 20, 2014 Liz rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fantasy
Dear Goodreads,
Will you please implement a half star system? This was not a three star book because what it was trying to do pushes it easily into four stars, but it somehow doesn't quite seem to achieve what it sets out to do. (Bow before me, for I am the queen of the vague review).
In certain respects, Brennan's book is brilliant. She has the voice of the naturalist down pat and she does 19th century British woman on an adventure with all the style and sincerity of someone who gets the Victoria...more
I had heard of this book awhile ago, I guess when it was first released in the US, but then forgot about it. Luckily, The Sword and Laser reminded me that it existed by picking it as one of the books for December, 2013. What a treat!

The title is a bit misleading. I suppose this is the first book in a planned series, as this book makes reference to things to be discussed in the future that aren't in the book. This (first volume?) covers Lady Trent's introduction to natural history in general, th...more
First things first: if you can get this in paper form, do it. It's a beautiful thing, and having to cut some of the pages really added to the Victorian-esque feeling of the book, though where is my silver paper-cutter??

This came very close to being total win for me, but just missed by a smidge, although it was beautifully done. The tone of that adventuring natural scientist of what would be the Victorian era in our world seemed perfect to me, as did the older writer reflecting on things that had...more
At one point in time, I was super excited for this book, and I would like to take the moment to thank Tor Books for giving me the opportunity to read it. I love dragons; my first finished novel was about shape-shifting dragons. I'm not just interested in dragons as a work of fantasy, however; I'm also very interested in how dragons could possibly work in the real world, the anatomy of dragons, and, of course, the various sub-species of dragons and how they would interact with each other and the...more
I’m so glad dragons are making a resurgence in fantasy. I know they never ‘left,’ per se, but I grew up on the tales of Wrede, McCaffrey, and Yolen, and it is a wonderful to see books like Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina taking home awards for writing. Of course, young adult doesn’t have a corner on the dragon market, and there have been many wonderful dragon stories in adult fantasy as well. I’ve just read one of them, and I’m happy to report that it was unique and spell-binding. Marie Brennan’s A N...more
So with this one I’ve got to start with the obvious. The cover art, and the illustrations inside, are absolutely gorgeous. Todd Lockwood has completely nailed it, as always. Shallow as it inevitably sounds this one is well worth having for the artwork alone.

Brennan’s writing style is dry and accomplished, and she gives us a strong female lead in a pseudo Victorian setting. I’m afraid that she suffered a little from the fact that I’ve recently finished Carriger’s Soullless, where the wit and char...more
Dana Stabenow
From Scirland, something like Victorian England during the height of scientific discovery and exploration, Isabella, Lady Trent, defies convention and risks personal peril and terrible loss by joining an expedition into the darkest and most dangerous reaches of storied Eriga to investigate the habits and habitat of dragons. Written much in the fashion of Charles Darwin traveling to the Galapagos -- think Amelia Peabody, with dragons -- this reminded me of everything from Star Trek: TNG to H. Bea...more
Probably the only thing you need to know about this book is that as soon as I finished reading it, I made an outrageous writing goal for the week and bought the sequel when I met that goal. The world is a believable one in which dragons are real but little-understood. In an analog to Victorian England, the future Lady Trent becomes obsessed with learning more about dragons, and adventure follows. Isabella is a wonderful narrator, and I found it easy to relate to her in most regards. My one hesit...more
First Second Books
It’s like H. Rider Haggard, + female protagonist, better treatment of native characters, sepia illustrations, and best of all – dragons!
I saw this book at the Sci-Fi section of a bookstore and was intrigued. However, which seems to be the case most recently, I've been especially worried that these books that seem interesting will be dreadfully boring. Thank goodness that was not the case with Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent.

Simply put, A Natural History of Dragons is the first part of Lady Trent autobiography. This includes her early years in Scirland of not quite conforming into society's vi...more
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The Sword and Laser: Finished 40 265 Jan 14, 2014 01:28PM  
The Sword and Laser: S&L Podcast - #154 - A Natural History of Dragons 14 173 Jan 07, 2014 02:34AM  
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Marie Brennan is the author of the Doppelganger and Onyx Court series of fantasy novels.
More about Marie Brennan...
Warrior (Doppelganger, #1) Witch (Doppelganger, #2) Midnight Never Come (Onyx Court, #1) The Tropic of Serpents (Memoir by Lady Trent, #2) In Ashes Lie (Onyx Court, #2)

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“Just as Manda Lewis's impressions of the world had been informed by her reading-- leading her to expect balls, duels, and conveniently timed thunderstorms out of life-- so, too, had mine; but what I expected was intellectual commerce between equals.” 1 likes
“Be warned, then: the collected volumes of this series will contain frozen mountains, foetid swamps, hostile foreigners, hostile fellow countrymen, the occasional hostile family member, bad decisions, misadventures in orienteering, diseases of an unromantic sort, and a plenitude of mud.” 1 likes
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