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The Tropic of Serpents

(The Memoirs of Lady Trent #2)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  6,552 ratings  ·  801 reviews
Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, in which she lost her husband, the widowed Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the savage, war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, t ...more
Paperback, 345 pages
Published June 20th 2014 by Titan Books (first published March 4th 2014)
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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,552 ratings  ·  801 reviews

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Mogsy (MMOGC)
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
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
[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
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
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
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
Moonlight Reader
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 re
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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 s
Marina Finlayson
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
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
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 as
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 f
David Kang
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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!
Natural historian and intrepid explorer Lady Isabella Trent is back at it in THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS, this time travelling to a tropical climate in pursuit of dragons.

This series is written as though it were a memoir of Lady Trent’s life. One thing that I really like about the memoir conceit in this series is the way that Marie Brennan is able to control various reveals. Since Isabella is writing her memoirs decades after the events she’s describing took place, she’s able to foreshadow events – a
Larissa (Book Bosomed Blonde)
You can also find this review here on my blog.

This is a brilliant series that becomes more exciting with each instalment. Swaps, natives, dragons and pompous men, this book really picked up from the first one and brings us on an even grander adventure as we learn more and more about The Natural history of Dragons.

Written in the format of a memoir, where Lady Trent recalls her life and adventures as a young natural Historian; this is unlike any other fantasy book out there. Although slow paced at
Sep 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I enjoyed the voice of the narrator and her growing sense of self-confidence. I also liked the setting and overall story.

Unfortunately, the pacing of this one didn't grip me quite as much as the previous book. It includes the same general mix of science, culture, politics, and personal issues, but the way they're balanced together is less satisfying.

Isabella often reflects on her love of naturalism, but the book spends more ink on travelogue-style passages than on her dragon research. It didn't
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I liked the first book in this series enough to start the second one soon after, I felt that it was missing something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but perhaps it was because the first one was a sort of mash-up between an adventure tale and a Gothic Horror story (such as Jekyll & Hyde or Frankenstein) told in the voice of Jane Austen.

This one is much more streamlined, in that it is an adventure story along the lines of The Man Who Would Be King or Treasure Island... as told by
J.V. Seem
May 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
In this volume, Mrs. Camherst goes on another expedition to study dragons in exotic lands, where she meets political, industrial and environmental obstacles.

Thinking of how much I liked the first book in this series, this was something of a disappointment. It's pretty much the same plot as last time, and it's kind of slow in the beginning. It does finally draw you in, but only for the last 30% or so. The rest is kind of a blur, as this is definitely not as action-filled as the previous volume.
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic narration, yey dragon science! Just need to go back and see the illustrations now.

-Wow do I love that narration, so many different accents and voices for every character
-Discussion of colonialism and England's history of making assumptions about native peoples
-Science that is actually pretty darn good for being about mythical creatures

-Can't see illustrations in audiobook so make sure you don't miss them!
Dave Collins
Dec 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dreadfully uninteresting. The series moves further and further away from the topic of dragons as time goes on and focuses more and more upon the ego of the author via the protagonist. Do not read if you have an interest in dragons, natural history, scientific inquiry or anything this books purports to be about.
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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!

Other books in the series

The Memoirs of Lady Trent (5 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)
“Science is not separate from politics. As much as I would like it to be a pure thing, existing only in some intellectual realm unsullied by human struggle, it will always be entangled with the world we live in.” 23 likes
“Nudity, I find, rapidly becomes boring when it is not treated as scandalous.” 15 likes
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