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The Tropic of Serpents

(The Memoirs of Lady Trent #2)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  9,041 ratings  ·  1,071 reviews
The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's The Tropic of Serpents . . .

Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. N
Hardcover, First Edition, 331 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Tor Books
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Nathan Schubert I'm also used to books that start the action on the first page, but with the setting in mind I found myself rather relaxed and appreciative of the pac…moreI'm also used to books that start the action on the first page, but with the setting in mind I found myself rather relaxed and appreciative of the pacing. Perhaps Marie plans to speed up the later books as less character exposition is needed.(less)

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Miranda Reads
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it

I wanted only to study dragons, but first I had to get past the humans...
Three years ago, Lady Trent was finally granted the ability to study dragons in the field.

She had a wonderful set of adventures with her husband in Vystranna and made many discoveries to push the bounds of knowledge regarding dragons.

Just as her adventures came to a close, she loses her husband and gains a child.

Three years later, Lady Trent now feels well enough to resume her studies...but unfortunately, high society t
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

As someone who loves the natural sciences and is fascinated with the study of animal behavior, I remember being thrilled to discover the exquisiteness of Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons. I'd been skeptical when I first picked it up, though. Written in the form of a memoir by the protagonist Lady Trent, I still recall wondering to myself how interesting could this book possibly be if it's just going to be nothi
Chantal Lyons
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
It feels like a betrayal to give this book so low a rating, when I loved the first one so much - but rate low I must.

The main problem is, there is not enough about dragons. Instead, there is A LOT about foreign politics, and A LOT of names. And, quite frankly, I didn't give a damn about any of it. Sure, it felt realistically crafted, but I don't see why the author couldn't have guided Isabella away it much earlier than she did. On something like page 190, Wilker says "I think we ought to get to
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2020-shelf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-2015
[5 Stars] I'm in love with this series, so in love. I can hardly contain my excitement for the third book which comes out later this year. I will begin this review by saying I loved this volume just as much as the last and that this book series is not for everyone. I repeat this book series is not for everyone. That being said let's move on to my thoughts.

I think the main problem most people have with this series is that it is too boring and that it doesn't have enough dragons in it. I admit, th
It’s been ages since I read A Natural History of Dragons, which meant I was playing catch-up a little with the characters and the situation. I wouldn’t suggest reading it without reading the first book, since it’s an almost continuous narrative — but if it’s just been a while, well, you’ll probably be okay. I got there pretty quickly, once I remembered who all the characters were and how they all related to each other.

As with the first book, it’s fascinating to read this version of our own histo
Auntie Terror
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-gaslamp
still amazing :-) [prtf]
Not a lot of dragons, but then that was kind of the case with book 1 in this series, too. That's okay since I'm really enjoying Isabella's collisions and bumblings with other cultures. She is sincere, though, in her desire to learn, totally unlike her fellow countrymen, who generally come off like the upper class boors they are, save for Tom and Hilford. This time, Isabella, Tom and a new face, Natalie (engineer in desires) descend into the "Green Hell" in search of swamp worms. Isabella blunder ...more
It took me a while to get into the first book in this series, so I was a little hesitant going into this one. And it did take me a chapter or so to get back into the world. But after that, I sped through this.

This is essentially a historical fiction series with added dragons where all the place names and cultural names have been changed. The main character, Isabella, is basically a Definitely Not Victorian Era lady explorer. She's fiercely independent and fascinated by dragons. In this installm
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[3.5 stars] In case you missed my review of A Natural History of Dragons, I should start out by explaining my love/hate relationship with it. The first half was SO AMAZING that I was certain it was going to be one of my new all-time favorites. However, the longer the story progressed, the more disappointed I became with how things were going. There were two main issues: 1) somewhere along the way, the focus shifted from the dragons and 2) the main character started making harebrained decisions t ...more
I enjoyed this book as I expected I would.. but unfortunately not as much as I expected I would. Damn those pesky expectations.

Don't get me wrong though, the story of The Tropic of Serpents was still entertaining but I cannot help but feel a little disappointed with this second installment too. The book definitely had a slow start, which in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, but in this case the slow start continued on in a so-so entertaining middle part. As fascinating as the exploration of
Christine PNW
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was the third time I’ve read this book, and each time I like it a little bit more. I reread it in preparation for the third book, The Voyage of the Basilisk, because for some reason, I haven’t kept current on this series, in spite of the fact that it is one of my favorites on the strength of the first two books. Books 3 & 4 have been released, and the final book in the series, Within the Sanctuary of Wings, is scheduled for release on April 25.

In terms of the the plot, if you plan to read t
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
I hate to admit, mostly because I was so throughly enchanted with A Natural History of Dragons, but I found Marie Brennan's The Tropic of Serpents boring. This is no offense to Brennan's writing. She knows how to use anthropology, archealogy, and history to her advantage. Brennan had me believing that dragons could be biologically possible.

However, Tropic of Serpents is a sophomore slump. It takes place three years after the first one and starts off with a break-in. Someone has broken into the h
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-sff-faves
Marie Brennan is fast becoming one of my favourite writers because she's just so good. This series is completely addictive and as soon as I finish one book I instantly end up going out and buying the next one!

This story takes place a few years after the ending of book #1 which has allowed some of our character the time to gather more funds and set up a new expedition to another land. This time they want to go study in Eriga where there is rumoured to be a war brewing, but there's also some drago
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More adventure, less mystery. This is more along the lines of what I was expecting from the first one. It was a light and fun book, and a great way to put my mind in neutral and just enjoy myself.

I forgot to mention the audio - It makes her sound much more snobby than the way I was reading it. I recommend sticking with print in this one.
I “had” to reread this in preparation for the new book, but it was (of course) absolutely no hardship. I got into it right away, this time; before, it’d been a while since I read the first book, and I had to adjust a bit and remind myself of who everyone was. This time, it was all fresh enough to plunge right in, and it doesn’t disappoint. Brennan handles Isabella so well: we get to see all aspects of her life, like her relationship with her son (realistically painful, given the death of his fat ...more
Allie Riley
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fabulous instalment in the series, introducing the character of Natalie, of whom we are clearly going to see much more. This was another exciting adventure, in the same style as the first, with the same wit and charm which characterised that. Delightful and I look forward to reading the next one.
2,5 stars.

With these books I'm feeling more and more like dragons are really just the backdrop and it's not good at all.

Isabella finally goes on another expedition after her first, disastrous one. So this time she packs her things, grabs Mr. Wilker, Lord Hilford's granddaughter Natalie and they leave for fantasy Africa, where a local chief of one country sends them into the jungle to bring him dragon eggs, which is not really ideal. But at least they can hang out with the tribes there and do
Marina Finlayson
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This series is such a delight. Lady Trent is the perfect Victorian lady, pragmatic and with a mind bent on scientific enquiry--except this is no Victorian England, but a world where dragons actually exist. Lady Trent is a naturalist whose passion is the study of dragons, and her adventures take her all over this fascinating world in pursuit of knowledge about them. Not only does she face dangers but she must deal with the suffocating strictures of her own society, which has very rigid ideas abou ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Tropic of Serpents is the second book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I enjoyed this book equally with the first book, for most of the same reasons. I actually don’t have much to say in this review because most of what I said just yesterday when I reviewed the first book still applies here.

This book did have a few slower moments as it dealt a bit more with politics and relationships, some of which was interesting and some of which wasn’t. The second half the book was very fast-paced tho
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
While it does appear that accusations of treason were falsely applied, it pains me to say that other tales of the former Mrs. Camherst's sojourn in Eriga are quite, quite true. To whit, she did use Mr. Wilker's familiar name of Tom, and she did, indeed, wear trousers. One hopes that her shocking behavior does not overshadow her discoveries on the complex and fascinating life cycle of the swamp-wyrm, or her observations about the other dragons and creatures of Eriga. ...more
Small Review
Originally posted at Small Review blog

I was lost in the depths of despair

I've been having a serious streak of bad luck when it comes to books this year. I haven't even reviewed all of them because I've just felt so meh and disappointed about them.

But that all ends now with the latest installment in the Memoir by Lady Trent series.

Until I found a bosom friend in Lady Trent

I was shocked last year at how much I adored the first book A Natural History of Dragons , and while it ended just fine a
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
> 4 stars

Oh this series is such a hidden gem. These novels read almost like a series of diaries from a great Victorian explorer - but one who was a woman, and who studied dragons.

Isabella as a heroine reminds me fondly of Audrey Rose from Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series - both are women trying to carve out a space in a space dominated by males; Isabella in natural anthropology and Audrey Rose in medicine. Both are smart and opinionated, and both display feminism in many face
Andrew Jaden
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this one, while it is a book about studying dragons, it is also a book about the merits of different cultures, independence and the right to self-determination -- the way the politics played out in the background was quite fascinating. Definitely worth reading.
David Kang
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Serious review:

Seriously it was better than the first one. It was better paced, the writing was spectacular as always, and there were even more incredible characters I just fell in love with.

One thing I'd like to congratulate Marie Brennan for is her portrayal of the indigenous people of Eriga. Eriga is meant to be a stand-in for Africa and Isabella spends a lot of time interacting with the people there. The cultures of Eriga are fictional but in
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars
Have you ever read an H. Rider Haggard jungle adventure novel and thought, "I really wish the author was more culturally sensitive," or, "It would be nice to see female characters who do things other than swoon and swan," or even just, "Hey, there should be dragons in this!" Then, my friend, The Tropic of Serpents is for you. There’s adventure, excitement, fascinating new cultures, political intrigue, multiple characters of interest, and almost enough dragons to satisfy my Draconean heart. (Almo ...more
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
That was a story! The swamp people were fascinating. I really have to give it to Kate Reading’s narration. I loved the names of the native people and the way she pronounced them!
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
The second book of Marie Brennan’s The Memoires of Lady Trent starts off with some continuation of discoveries from the first book, then some world politics and finally the Lady Trent’s exploration of the Moulish Swamp. The second part was somewhat difficult to follow, because of mentions of several different, to us, new countries and peoples, lots of new characters and world building. It’s not that it’s not well done, but as someone wrote before, that’s not why we want to read these books! It f ...more
Lori S.
Fun read, with interesting amounts of natural history and ethnography. Brennan really brings the characters and the settings to life.

I liked, too, that she included an asexual (possibly aromantic) character in one of Isabella's companions/friends in the person of Natilie Oscartt, who is an interesting character in her own right. Thomas Wilker, becomes a good friend over the course of the book, a change from their first adventure, and something which leads to some scandalous nonsense back home.

Isabella Camherst continues on her journey, both physically to new lands, and emotionally as a woman who refuses to yield to society's expectations of her, and I love every minute of it. I enjoyed this even more than the first book! ...more
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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)
  • A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #1)
  • 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)

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