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A Natural History of Dragons

(The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  31,411 ratings  ·  3,878 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
Hardcover, 334 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Tor Books
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Sarah Smithers I did want more dragon lore, but the parts that were there were very interesting.

Her manner of speaking , and her pithing and sarcastic comments, wer…more
I did want more dragon lore, but the parts that were there were very interesting.

Her manner of speaking , and her pithing and sarcastic comments, were a delightful hoot.

Usually those victorian type things are boring and melodramatic over the littlest thing, but this was a lively and entertaining story.(less)
Julia I respect your question, the blurb itself describes it as "the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation..." I have not read this bo…moreI respect your question, the blurb itself describes it as "the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation..." I have not read this book, but I believe it uses the word "true" as part of the story.(less)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  31,411 ratings  ·  3,878 reviews

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Miranda Reads
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

One benefit of being an old woman now, and moreover one who has been called a "national treasure," is that there are very few who can tell me what I may and may not
Ever since she was a child, Isabella was obsessed, absolutely obsessed, with dragons.

She would spent long hours curled up with her favorite book, A Natural History of Dragons and for a while, she was indulged by her father...but unfortunately that could not last.
No gentleman would want a wife covered in scars f
Christopher Paolini
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan, is a superb novel in every regard. It's a classic, first-person adventure full of travel, science, and of course, dragons. The writing is clean, concise, and well-assured. The characters are interesting—especially the main one, Isabella. The plotting is clockwork-tight. And the worldbuilding is a masterpiece of sophisticated evocation. It's clear that Brennan has put an enormous amount of thought and research into her craft. ...more
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc-review, 2013
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
Sean Barrs
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Robin Hobb fans
Shelves: fantasy, 3-star-reads
I like books about people who like books. Perhaps it’s because it immediately allows me to sympathise with the protagonist as a bond of kinship is created. Or perhaps it’s because reading about books is a double winner. Well, either way it creates a novel that is easy to relate to and easy to become engrossed in.

A well created discipline

This is not a standard novel; it is in the form of a memoir of sorts. Lady Trent is writing, what is essentially, her life story. She is now an aged and accr
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a pleasant enough read. It was really a story about a feisty young Victorian woman than it was about dragons though. You could just have easily had the same story, but with lions or bears for example. I'm glad I finally got round to this book-one of those that I have been meaning to try for a long while. Would I continue the series? Maybe as a filler.... ...more
[5 Stars] I loved this book. I knew I loved this book after reading only two pages of it. I'm finding it difficult to say anything right now because I loved it that much. This series may even become an all time favorite if each book is as good or better than this one.

Though this book is called A Natural History of Dragons it is really more about Lady Trent and how she initially became interested in dragons and also her experience on her first dragon studying expedition. This book also deals with
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dragons
“The dragon within my heart stirred, shifting her wings, as if remembering they could be used to fly.”

A Natural History of Dragons is not a classic fantasy story. It reads more like a historical fiction novel in which dragons are a rare animal species. They have yet to be explored and that's exactly what our protagonist wants. The only problem is her own gender! Isabella is a woman and society doesn't even allow her to wear pants, so how could she become a scientist?

In this series she tells
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think I'm in love with this book. No... I know it. :)

I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't a call-back to the early days of science when the practitioners called themselves Naturalists, being well-funded amateurs and Lords (Or Ladies!) striking out into the wide world for the simple pleasure of learning, discovery, and adventure.

Maybe I should have expected that. But then, maybe I shouldn't have expected it to be charming, totally delightful, emotionally rewarding, smart, and witty... bu
¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪
“The dragon within my heart stirred, shifting her wings, as if remembering they could be used to fly.”


Before starting this book I've been warned by many people: "A Natural History of dragons is not a book about dragons"; which is, on one hand, correct. This fictional memoir follows the life and adventures of Lady Isabella Trent, a woman who, despite her gender and upbringing, became the most influential expert on dragons of her time. In truth, this book focuses so much on her life and her recall
Apr 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
By right, I should have loved and adored this. A regency-style world, very Austen-y, with a strong female lead and with the added spice of DRAGONS! Sadly, I'm not really all that charmed.

We have here the first volume in the "auto-biography" of Lady Trent, a scholar of dragons. In this first volume, we follow her childhood and teenage years until she gets married and a bit further.
She's always been a bit of a tomboy and a bookworm, to say nothing of her love for natural history. After finding a
A Lovely book and great summer read, but oh how I wish things had turned out differently...

(view spoiler).
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-sff-faves
Genuinely I loved this. I picked this up at long last at what I felt was the perfect time. not only had two of my great friends been recently discussing it and saying how much they enjoyed it (Paul and Elizabeth) but they also mentioned the focus on anatomy and science and drawing of Dragons. I've owned this book for literally years now, and I felt like it was about time I got to reading it. I'm so glad that the time I chose to start it was also the time when I was involved in drawing Dinosaur a ...more
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017, fantasy
It took me a long time to pick this up. I always loved the cover, but something about it kept me from thinking it was going to be up my alley. I was wrong and I’m glad I finally decided to give this one a chance. It probably turned into a 3.5 star book for me but I’m rounding up.

It’s definitely a different sort of book – it’s got a very Victorian feel. I guess this should be obvious given that’s the sort of setting the author is trying for, but sometimes that feels like a barrier from me connect
Allison Hurd
This was quite enjoyable. Part Regency memoir, part travelogue, part adventure story, part cozy mystery, it was just pleasant.

CONTENT WARNINGS: (just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The combination of archetypes. If you like flintlock fantasy AND Regency AND mysteries AND...all the rest, this is a must-read. I didn't think they'd all manage to blend as well as they did and I was
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
Beatriz Cunha Tavares ☾
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Lovely book, a total surprise. It was an easy read that really grabed my attention and was hard to put down.

I loved the world, that was very "normal", with normal animals and a normal society ressembling the 19th century. Sometimes it felt almost like I was reading a goood historical fiction... with dragons! I don't usually read a lot of books about dragons, but in this one they were nicely imagined and described and fit very well in the story.
The prose was beautifully written and had rea
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Robin Hobb fans, Jane Austen fans
I'll preface this review with something that I feel it's important to know.

This book is not for everyone. It's really, *really* not for everyone. If you read Fantasy for lots of action, wish fulfillment, badass overpowered characters, action scenes, battles, intricate plot and heavy world building, run. Run far, run fast, and don't look back. It's not for you, Jen.

If you enjoy a good character piece, if you have an interest in science and natural history, if you enjoy classical literature in the
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
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
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Wow, I really liked this book -- everything from the story and the characters and the writing down to its stark yet elegant cover which first drew my eye to its spot sitting on a store bookshelf. I blame my background in the biological sciences, since it seems I can't help but be intrigued by anything that looks like it has anatomical drawings on it.

As indicated by its title, the novel is told in the form of a memoir from the venerable Lady Trent, leading research and expert on the ma
Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Started so strong and then ended with the trip that made me lose interest. But I still want to read the rest of the series, so there is that
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

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
Sep 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ficção, fantasia
A Natural History of Dragons is a faux-memoir by an aristocratic lady scientist, a dragon enthusiast. The book had a very strong start, the chapters on her childhood are so promising, and the commentary on women's total legal dependancy on their husbands was very interesting. Unfortunately, the story goes downhill just when it's supposed to get more exciting: when the protagonist goes on an excursion abroad to study dragons.

It. Was. So. Boring! The dragons are tangential to the story, at best. T
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, own, dragons
The lovechild of Lady Cottington's Pressed Faerie Book and His Majesty's Dragon, I can't believe I waited this long to read the thrilling tales of Lady Trent! I must have the second (and third!) books immediately! This book reads exactly like a Victorian memoir, except for the fact that there are dragons. And there is also Isabella, Lady Trent, is not one to faint at the sight of a little dragon blood! Instead, spurred by a fascination with natural history in general and dragons in particular, s ...more
Aventure! Mystery! An intrepid heroine who gets herself into all kinds of dangerous and precarious situations! No, it's not a Nancy Drew book, but it was just as much fun. ;)

I really enjoyed this. It had a Victorian feel but because it was a fantasy world it was able to throw a lot of the straitlaced conventions to the winds whenever it felt like it. I was expecting something a bit more dry but this was basically about having adventures and solving a mystery. It was good fun and I'm off to order
Lukas Anthony
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: series-debut
If there was one word to describe this novel, and all it's characters really, it would be 'charming'.

I didn't really know what I was getting from this book until I read the opening chapter. I was expecting our heroine to be riding into the sunset on a dragon, bound for grand adventures, but it's less about dragon hi-jinx, and more about a little girl wanting to study dragons in a male dominated time period.

Cue the knocking down of gender walls, a sweet and drama free romance, and many hypothesi
Auntie Terror
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-gaslamp
I'm too giddy with excitement to write a proper review just now. [prtf] ...more
Written as a pastiche of Victorian literature, “A Natural History of Dragons” is the first part of Lady Trent’s memoirs, documenting her life and career as a natural historian who made some ground-breaking discoveries about dragons. I didn’t need to know anything else about this book to get excited about it, and while the novel delivers exactly what it’s synopsis promises, something about it left me unsatisfied.

Let’s be clear: this book is very well written, Isabella’s narrative voice is strong,
Quite enjoyable, I thought. This was not perfect, though any memoir-style book will suffer from a lot of the same complaints - lack of suspense for the fate of the narrator, too much narrator "presence" that interrupts the story, often at inconvenient times, and usually a focus on what the narrator chooses to reveal rather than what the reader/listener is interested in.

That being said, I still liked this quite a lot. I don't really know what I was expecting, but I wasn't disappointed or bored b
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Marie Brennan a.k.a. M.A. Carrick

Marie Brennan is a former anthropologist and folklorist who shamelessly pillages her academic fields for material. She recently misapplied her professors' hard work to Turning Darkness Into Light, a sequel to the Hugo Award-nominated series The Memoirs of Lady Trent. As half of M.A. Carrick, she is also the author of The Mask of Mirrors, first in the Rook and Rose

Other books in the series

The Memoirs of Lady Trent (6 books)
  • The Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #2)
  • The Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3)
  • In the Labyrinth of Drakes (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #4)
  • Within the Sanctuary of Wings (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #5)
  • Turning Darkness Into Light (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #6)

Articles featuring this book

If you love the fantasy genre, this is the season for you! Some of the biggest books out this fall promise to be epics full of magic, adventure,...
202 likes · 51 comments
“I believed myself to be ready then; now, with the hindsight brought by greater age, I see myself for the naive and inexperienced young woman I was. We all begin in such a manner, though. There is no quick route to experience.” 19 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.” 16 likes
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