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A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1)

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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  13,249 Ratings  ·  2,178 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
ebook, 336 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,…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)
Thia Isabella gets married so we see how she met her husband, but we don't really see them courting. We also see a bit of their life after marriage.
The…more
Isabella gets married so we see how she met her husband, but we don't really see them courting. We also see a bit of their life after marriage.
The first part of the book is about Isabella's childhood. The second is about their expedition.
It has some action, but it is a fantasy of manners, so it focuses a lot on the interaction between the characters.
For age, I would say teens and adults will enjoy it.
My favourite thing about the series is that Isabella is a woman scientist in a world where she's expected to stay home and have children. We fully explore how society rejects her, but she keeps going and she literally changes the world with her discoveries.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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seak
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Emma
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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....
Bookdragon Sean
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

description
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 accre
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Elizabeth
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal. A perfect combination of light-hearted science adventures and some serious consideration of the restriction of women's (and men's) lives in patriarchies. Oh and dragons, let's not forget the dragons. I came in for the dragon-based adventure times and got smacked right in the feels. Just read it.
Sanaa
[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
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M.
A Lovely book and great summer read, but oh how I wish things had turned out differently...

(view spoiler).
Sam
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, read-2017
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
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Rob
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 ho
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Kaitlin
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
TheBookSmugglers
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
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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
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Kaora
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Beatriz Cunha Tavares
4.75*

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
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Jessica
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Wol
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
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Sarah Anne
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
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Mogsy (MMOGC)
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
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Nikki
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
Charlie
5 stars!

First of all, I love dragons so I hoped this book was going to be good and thankfully, I loved it.

Lady Trent is a wonderful narrator. I laughed and cried with her and I felt her frustrations. This was a mix of fantasy and historical fiction that worked so well and I can't wait to read the other books in the series.
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
2.5

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
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Rinn
I received a copy of this book for free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.

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 w
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Mehmet
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Marielle Ooms-Voges
I was forced to read this book by my friend Julia ;) and I am very glad I was! This is a story about a strong young woman trying to stay true to herself while being held back by the boundaries of society.
We read about growing up and her love and fascination for dragons. This results in her joining an expedition which becomes quite the dangerous adventure.
The dragons are not the subject of the book, they provide the background story, but, I mean, dragons!!! Dragons are always a good addition, in
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Lukas (LukeLaneReads)
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
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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
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Bridget Mckinney
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
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Marina
Second Read Review:

It's kind of strange that the reason I like this book is also kind of the reason why I dislike it. It's oxymoronic, but there's an explanation.

Because you see, A Natural History of Dragons isn't about dragons (the series title might give you a clue), it's about Isabella Trent's life as a dragon naturalist. It reads very much like a Victorian style diary and details how Isabella set on the path to becoming one of the leading experts on dragons. So, for the most part, we learn a
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Dani
For some unknown and inexplicable reason, as soon as I read in a book blurb/synopsis about there being dragons in the story, my eyes glaze over and I will immediately assume this presence of dragons holds an unsaid promise of exiting rip-roaring action that's gonna blow me away. However, in this series the focus is most definitely not fulfilling that promise in that sense - but that's what you get for assuming anything. Here the focus is on the studying of dragons and on anthropology, foreign po ...more
nat
Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
it's been a while since I've read anything about dragons (or at least where dragons are the main focus) and as you should know dragons are my babies, my main squeeze. give me all the dragons, I say. so obviously I decided to give this a go. now before reading it I though it would be a completely different thing (don't know why but I did) but what I got, I liked. the fictionalized memoir format is done so well that I had to stop myself and think "wait, dragons aren't real!" it was great.

I also c
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Lea
Sep 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
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 tangencial to the story, at best. T
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Marie Brennan is the author of the Doppelganger, Onyx Court, Wilders, and Memoirs of Lady Trent series of fantasy novels. Sign up for her newsletter here!
More about Marie Brennan...

Other Books in the Series

The Memoirs of Lady Trent (5 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)

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“But coming to terms with one’s sorrow is one thing; sharing it with strangers is quite another.” 12 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.” 9 likes
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