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The Memoirs of Lady Trent #5

Within the Sanctuary of Wings

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Within the Sanctuary of Wings is the conclusion to Marie Brennan's thrilling Lady Trent Memoirs

After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent--dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.

And yet--after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia--the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure--scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland's enemies--and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.

333 pages, Hardcover

First published April 25, 2017

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About the author

Marie Brennan

168 books2,773 followers
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 trilogy. For more information, visit swantower.com, Twitter @swan_tower, or her Patreon.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 814 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
April 15, 2021

"Oh, I am skeptical," I assured him. "But also curious."
Lady Trent, the world's foremost dragon naturalist, is penning another book - one that hints at why she became so world-renowned.

But first, she needs to go on one last adventure.
My heart stuttered in its beat. Perhaps you think it was a foolish reaction
After being reunited with Suhail and back on the trails with Tom, Lady Trent is ready to make waves and discover some amazing dragonish things.

But when a freak accident leaves her stranded with the most unlikeliest of rescuerers, she will find herself reevaluating everything she's ever known.
Writing the final volume of one's memoirs is a very peculiar experience. This book does not chronicle the end of my life, as I am not dead...
Ahhhh, this was such a STUNNING ending - it truly was perfect.

I truly did not see that ending coming but I honestly could not imagine a better way to wrap up this series - I loved, loved, loved it.

I also LOVED the love in this book - the relationship with Lady Trent and Suhail was so natural and sweet. It wasn't a wild, passionate affair but a slow-and-steady burn (which is my favorite type of relationships).

All in all, this last book TRULY made this series worth every page.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Liz.
1,454 reviews35 followers
May 15, 2019
I admit, my main reaction was "oh, so that's what we've been building up to!"
Now I want to reread the series with the knowledge of where it's going. It's really clever and well done and now I want a BBC miniseries with Maggie Smith playing Lady Trent as the narrator.

Update: reread the series in two weeks. It’s one of those stories that’s even better on reread.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,030 reviews2,604 followers
April 25, 2017
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/04/25/...

It is with a heavy heart that I bid adieu to another one of my favorite series, but I am also glad that at long last I got to see all the ideas come to fruition in this fifth and final novel of Marie Brennan’s wholly unique Memoirs of Lady Trent. After all, Within the Sanctuary of Wings is everything a fan could want in a finale—a book that ends on a high note of hope and happiness while also deftly tying all the overall series themes and plot threads together.

Furthermore, I’m sure those who have been along for the ride since A Natural History of Dragons will be glad to know that the details behind Isabella’s most infamous scientific discovery—an event that has been teased for the first four books—will finally be revealed. Without a doubt, the answers were worth waiting for. I guarantee that the revelations in this book will change everything you think you know about this series.

The adventure, however, begins rather quietly. While attending a lecture on Draconean linguistics delivered by her husband, Isabella’s attention is unexpectedly pulled away by a Yelangnese stranger with an urgent matter to discuss with her. The man, whose name is Thu, reports that he has discovered the corpse of a new type of dragon while scouting with his fellow rebels in the mountains of the Mrtyahaima. As expected though, the remoteness of the location and its unforgiving conditions do little to faze the headstrong Isabella, who immediately works on putting together an expedition to Yelang so that her team can investigate Thu’s claims.

Unfortunately, their road is plagued with obstacles. There is only a tiny window time in which they must reach the Mrtyahaima mountains before the monsoon season brings heaps of snow upon the peaks. Then there are the political complications. The region is unstable with different tribes chafing under the Yelangnese rule, and it’s not like Isabella is exactly welcome in Yelang either, after the way she offended their government on one of her past adventures. Worst of all, there’s no guarantee that she will find evidence of a new dragon species. Weeks of planning and risk-taking could end up being all for naught.

But of course, our characters find something. And obviously I won’t spoil what it is here, but it’s something HUGE.

Without revealing anything though, I will admit that the twist caught me off guard—likely what it was meant to do, but it also left me with some mixed feelings. I’ve made no secret that one of my favorite aspects of this series are the dragons and the way they are handled—not as mythological beings or exceptional creatures with special abilities or powers as most fantasy novels depict them. In contrast, Brennan’s dragons are part of the natural world, a key theme which has provided the driving force behind all these books. I found this approach refreshingly original. I also loved the science and the learning, and most of all I loved Isabella’s quest to find out as much as she can about how dragons fit into the natural order of the world. Within the Sanctuary of Wings does not really change any of this, and for that I am glad. But at the same time (and apologies for being deliberately vague on this), this installment did also manage to drop a bombshell which introduced a completely new element into my understanding of this series.

As well, there were a few minor issues with pacing. First, compared to the previous books, this one started more slowly, and even the harrowing journey through the snow and ice did little to give the intro an energy boost. Second, this was also a very Isabella-centric story, resulting in less appearances by some of my other favorite characters like Tom and Suhail. Third, while lots of fascinating things happened throughout, a large chunk of the middle was characterized by inaction which, to be fair, couldn’t be helped given the way certain events played out. Finally, the ending wrapped things up way too conveniently for my tastes, but at that point I understood the need for a quick and satisfying resolution.

Still, despite my quibbles, this was once again another riveting book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent sequence. It has been an absolute joy to be with Isabella as she evolved throughout the series, as well as watching her relationships grow. Sometimes, if I allow myself to get really immersed, I even start thinking of this alternate world as my own, and I have to credit the author’s incredible writing skills. These books have a way of drawing me in, making it easy for me to believe I am actually reading an account of an old woman’s youth and rise to fame as a world renowned dragon researcher. I cheered Isabella on as she fought to pursue her dream of becoming a scientist, bucking social conventions at a time when men still dominated academia. It was hard not to shed a tear by the time I got to the very last page, so moved was I to see how far our protagonist has come.

Within the Sanctuary of Wings is truly Lady Trent’s greatest adventure, closing this outstanding pentalogy with style. It is a wonderful, gratifying conclusion to an overall excellent series that I just can’t recommend enough.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,971 followers
April 25, 2020
A solid end to a solid series.

Who knew that a lady of *ahem* advancing years should be so handy in the heights of those daunting, deserted mountains!

No spoilers, but there is a somewhat sensationalist and predictable twist in the core of this book. It reminds me fondly of ... just about any big-name adventure book to come out of the late Victorian time period.

But that's a GOOD thing. The spirit that's evoked in these novels is meant to conjure the ghosts of many tweed adventurers. It succeeds in exactly what it sets out to do. :)
Profile Image for Sanaa.
411 reviews2,555 followers
February 8, 2023
[4 Stars] Fantastic end to one of my all time favorite fantasy series. I will miss Lady Trent's stories.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,938 reviews787 followers
February 25, 2018
First, I want to say that I haven't read any of the previous books in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series. However, it has been one that I have been curious about for some time. As a fantasy fan can't I help but find the books in this series very appealing. The covers for the books are fabulous and I found the idea of an alternative world set in the early 20th century with dragons intriguing. Now, since the book didn't have many maps can't I say for sure how similar the world in this series is to ours, and all the countries have different names. But, it does feel like reading an alternative Victorian-era book.

Profile Image for Marielle.
264 reviews39 followers
October 25, 2017
Perfect ending to a lovely series of books. Questions answered and a new country to explore. I thought the books got better and better and this one made a very satisfying ending...
Lady Trent and her memoirs now hold a very special place in my heart. I'm sure I'll revisit her tale someday.
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,231 reviews169 followers
May 25, 2023

Over the last week, I have been whizzing through this series, enjoying it even more than the first time.

We meet Isabella in the first title as a feisty young woman passionate about dragons and science and throughout the series witness her growth both as a scientist and a woman. Each book focuses on an expedition, and I absolutely loved all of this, the adventure, the different settings, but ultimately it is Isabella’s voice that completely fascinated me :O) Her friendship with Tom was wonderful - those two kindred spirits joining efforts against a society that kept seeing them as ‘inferior', especially due to their rocky start. There are many other characters too, Suhail being of course a favourite. I particularly loved the last 3 books. Those were wonderful - furthering our intrepid heroine’s theory, bringing new facts, and developing her personal life.

There is a sixth title, not from Isabella’s point of view, but a successor, and I must admit I am curious to see how that will work.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
51 reviews1 follower
January 6, 2023
This 5 stars is partly because this is one of the best instalments in the series, but mainly because of how well it ties everything together than has been touched upon in the first 4 books; in a way I never would’ve expected. This is a fantastic fantasy series that felt refreshing in the way it deals with dragons and dragon lore. There’s so much more I want to say about this series that I’ve loved, however that would be full of spoilers. So I’ll just say, wonderful world building, excellent vibes, fun characters (Isabella you have definitely made my favourites list) and slow but intriguing plot. Some final books in a series can be a little bit of a letdown, this was the complete opposite.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
July 27, 2017
I kind of procrastinated on reading this book, or at least finishing it, because I didn’t want the adventures to be over. This is the concluding volume of Lady Trent’s memoirs, and I already miss her ‘deranged practicality’, her curiosity and drive, and the people around her. Still, it’s a worthy end to her story, concluding her major scientific studies with — well, I’d better be careful not to say too much. The series has been building up to this point, and I wouldn’t want to spoil the moment of realisation and discovery halfway through this book.

My only quibble, perhaps, is a minor spoiler — I find it amazing that Isabella’s team come out of all of this so well. They end up in what I think are an analogue for the mountains of Tibet, suffer avalanches and punishingly cold temperatures, and yet for the most part, they come through these trials whole or able to heal. No frostbite, no permanent injuries, etc. It’s a bit of a contrast to the end of book one, where of course Isabella’s husband dies. I probably would’ve been annoyed if Isabella didn’t get a happy ending, but maybe this one felt a little too easy.

I don’t want to end on a quibble, though, because I truly love these books — more than I ever thought I would, the first time I read A Natural History of Dragons. Isabella is an amazing character, and I can’t help but love her and most of those around her. I really enjoy that the books have some illustrations of dragons and finds, and that Isabella is a serious scholar who tests hypotheses and formulates theories — she doesn’t get to the answer in one leap of intuition in book one and then simply have to prove what she already knows. The five books each see her learning more, changing her ideas, and being surprised along the way.

And lest you be worried about the Victorian-ish setting of these books and what effect it might have on the narration, don’t. If they were actually set in Victorian times, I’d call them anachronistic — there’s a flavour of the old fashioned in some of the phrasing and such, but no more. Suffice it to say that my sister read the last two books in about 24 hours — snatching my copy of this one from my hand almost as soon as she saw me when I arrived to visit.

If my wife would start reading them now, that’d be good. I’m waiting (and hoping she likes Isabella and her adventures as much as I do).

Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
645 reviews79 followers
September 12, 2018
Within the Sanctuary of Wings is the fifth and final book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series that began with A Natural History of Dragons. I’ve enjoyed this entire series. As I’ve said in my previous reviews, the books are fairly light, with lots of adventure and fun. Although there were slow spots here and there, they held my interest consistently and felt like fast reads.

This final book started off in the same vein as the previous books, but there was a twist around the middle that really sucked me in and took my interest in the story up to another level. I was also happy with how the series wrapped up. I’m really glad I decided to fit this into my reading schedule; it made a nice change of pace from some of my recent selections.

Profile Image for BellaGBear.
574 reviews52 followers
March 23, 2018
I could not review the end of this series better than Isabella herself does at the end of the book (no spoiler)

"If there is any conclusion to my tale (apart from my death, which I hope is yet a good way off), it is that the heart of it will never truly end. Altough my memories are of course the story of my life and career, they are also a story of discovery: of curiosity, and investigation, and learning, not only regarding dragons but many other topics. I take comfort in knowing that others will carry this tale forward, continually unfolding new secrets of the world in which we live, and hopefully using that understanding more often for good than for ill.
And so I leave it in your hands, gentle reader. Mind you carry it well."

So go out and discover, go out and do science!
Profile Image for Ksenia (vaenn).
436 reviews206 followers
October 8, 2019
Ця жінка змусила мене сьогодні забути про обіцянку в найближчий вихідний нарешті написати притомний книжковідгук до блогу! І, як не дивно, ця жінка - то не Ізабелла, леді Трент - невтомна натуралістка-дослідниця драконів, а її творчиня Марі Бреннан.

Я трохи занудьгувала на четвертій книжці (хоча вона безмежно прекрасна тими частинами, котрі переспівують новітні археологічні теорії зразу кінця ХІХ століття на фентезійний лад), тому з п'ятою вирішила: хай там як, а цього року треба добивати. І це було офігенно. Останній пазлик ліг на своє місце, хвости, що ненав'язливо помахували уважним читачам ще з першої частини, нарешті отримали свої урочисті бантики, п'ять томів стали струнко, розправили плечі і дали нарешті змогу оцінити масштаби, деталізацію та рефрени наскрізного сюжету. /лунає захоплений вереск, крізь який прориваються поодинокі осмислені фрази, навроді "Та ж #видайтеукраїнською!"/

Це все ще було про наукову відвагу і нескінченний пошук, про прийняття себе й іншого (і трішки - іншого в собі), про буквально карколомні пригоди в екзотичних локаціях (цього разу - альтісторичний аналог Гімалаїв в умовах отвєточки за Опіумні війни - ні, в цьому світі їх не було, Бреннан по-іншому вивернулася) і ще карколомніші відкриття. Тільки цього разу було ще більше політики, ще більше лінгвістики та антропології, а вишенькою на торті слугує ідеальна ілюстрація принципу sic sunt dracones.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
473 reviews15 followers
June 27, 2022
Within the Sanctuary of Wings brings the conclusion to The Memoirs of Lady Trent . If you have made it this far, you’ll know exactly what you’ll get: a light read, with a few indiscretions, scientific discoveries and female strong headedness! I really enjoyed the series as a whole, though with a short break in-between (it is a bit repetitive and as I said, very light). The audio version was excellent and I relished the different voices of the narrator plus she was just a perfect voice for Lady Trent.
Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,695 reviews875 followers
May 22, 2017
Read This Review & More Like It @ Ageless Pages Reviews!

Within the Sanctuary of Wings is the fifth and final novel in Marie Brennan's anthropological fantasy series about a (usually scandalous, never boring) female dragon naturalist. It's Isabella's most daring adventure and biggest discovery yet -- and that's saying something if you know any of the details of Lady Trent's first four books. Even this far into the series, Brennan has creativity and imagination to keep her stories and characters fresh and interesting. Journeying to all new locales and encountering new dragons to study and learn, Within the Sanctuary of Wings contains all the manners and mayhem we've come to expect while effectively tying up the series' plot elements.

Isabella is a force to be reckoned with, as she has been all her life. Here in the last book chronicling her storied and scandalous career and private life, she is a tad bit wiser, a tad less heedless and reckless, but she is no less intellectually curious or personally ambitious. In fact for the first time and thanks to her new marriage, she is motivated by more than just scientific career goals. Her fictional life is robust with action and scientific experiments; she defied societal expectations when she was first Lady Camherst and never failed to continue to do so through her various elevations and associations. Reading from her perspective is a unique experience every time, but a fully-developed one. The memoirs cover five decades of Lady Trent's unusual experience - from an awkward child to potential bluestocking to scholarly infamy and beyond - so it's easy to invest in her personally, and the secondary characters to a lesser degree.

While Within the Sanctuary of Wings makes for an undoubtedly fun and entertaining read, it feels a bit short for a concluding volume at only three hundred fifty-odd pages. Some of the story's central plot elements feel a bit.. underdeveloped and rushed in the narrative's drive to wrap up all the loose ends of Isabella's life. The main plot of the book is clever - tying in hints and allusions and glimpses from the previous novels about a central mystery at the heart of the world - as well as some other unexpected parties, but it felt somewhat unexplored before the ending.

As a whole the Lady Trent books have been wryly funny mixes of Victorian attitudes and a fantasy world. With storylines concerned with everything from smashing patriarchal political complications to uncharted draconic exploration, there's a lot to enjoy about Marie Brennan's final chapter in this smart story.
Profile Image for All Things Urban Fantasy.
1,921 reviews613 followers
July 28, 2017
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.

WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS is the rare, magical beast that manages to be both a fitting series finale as well as a complete and utter surprise. From start to finish this series draws much of it's emotional power from the constraints of its imaginary, historical world. The series finale uses those same constraints, carefully nurtured in the readers' minds, to deliver a surprise that made me gasp out loud.

In the interest of avoiding spoilers, this review will avoid dissecting the particulars of this last book. Fans of the series will enjoy another, quintessential Lady Trent expedition. It is heartwarming to see how life after marriage continues to nurture and enrich a beloved romance. And despite Lady Trent's casual allusions to her future discoveries down the entire series, never for a moment did I expect that "discovery"to be surprising enough to shock me along side her peers.

While it is sad to close the cover on a wonderful series, from start to finish The Memoirs of Lady Trent offer much to enjoy for fans of fantasy, science, and classic adventure. It was a pleasure to sail alongside her, and the world Lady Trent helped discover will live on vividly in my heart.

Sexual content: None.
Profile Image for Mike.
388 reviews94 followers
January 20, 2022
Excellent conclusion to the series. Very, very glad that I took it back up.
Profile Image for Kelsea Yu.
Author 7 books122 followers
June 29, 2019

The perfect end to an incredible series! Can’t wait to start the new series set in this world that’s coming out soon!
Profile Image for Atlas.
687 reviews27 followers
April 10, 2020
* * * * *
5 / 5

Mini Review!

Lady Trent is back at nearly forty years of age to put the final touches on her memoirs (I love the pictures in the back - she looks like Dame Maggie Smith, so distinguished!), chronicling the final discovery as regards the Draconeans. It features most of the prominent characters from the previous books - Tom, Suhail, and her son - plus a new character Thu. It follows in the same vein as the other books in the Lady Trent series: a expedition is planned to find some new species of dragon, this time they voyage into the Mrtyahaima mountains, a team is put together, they travel and begin to make discoveries, something goes wrong, there's some sort of forbidden or sacred site involved. Yes, it's a touch formulaic, but I have found every book to be charming and fresh and Within the Sanctuary of Wings was no different. It's got all the little touches that make these books feel authentic like details about mountaineering or interactions with local people.

This book is the culmination of the discovery that has been building up throughout the series - the eggs, the sculptures, the Draconean script - all the clues and hints sprinkled throughout are brought together to what is a satisfying conclusion. Whilst this book is a little low on the action side in comparison to some of the others, there's no kidnapping or wars or such, I found I didn't particularly care. The writing is as lovely and engaging as ever, Isabella Trent is as wonderful a narrator, and the illustrations in the book are stunning. Whilst the cover isn't my favourite out of the five, it does still look good on my shelf.

My only criticism might be that the end wraps up a little too fast; I felt the events probably deserved a little more detail, but it did keep the book from dragging - Brennan hasn't fallen into this recent trend of writing longer and longer sequels. Other than that, I enjoyed this book thoroughly and I would absolutely recommend that anyone reading this review who hasn't read the whole series: pick it up now!

I'm planning to write a full series review some time soon, so keep your eyes out for that on my blog:
Profile Image for Christina.
681 reviews20 followers
November 17, 2022
This was a wonderful conclusion to this series.

I know people who want action and loads of magic in their fantasy will not like this series, but I love it. It reads more like a Victorian travel novel with an interest in certain animals and foreign cultures. Again, Lady Trent's humorous tone made this a delight for me. I like the lighthearted way of storytelling and the fascination for all things dragon-related.

The character of Lady Isabella ist just so endearing to me. She is curious and kind, but obviously not perfect. While she is smart, she makes mistakes and there are many things she doesn't know. I love that she calls out her younger self in all of the books.

This time, her travels lead her to the fantasy version of the Himalayas. While there are some political entanglements and the suspense of nature, it is once again more about the cusiosity for dragons and other people. It takes a little for the travel to get going, but I thoroughly enjoyed both the lead-up to the journes as well as the journey istelf. Only towards the end it got a little bit rushed but it makes sense for the narrator to place her focus like she did.

I might read the sequel which follows Isabella's granddaughter, I think. But I will miss Isabella as a narrator.
Profile Image for Banshee.
491 reviews48 followers
October 28, 2022
The final book of the main series was nothing short of mind-blowing. I could never imagine that it would have such a satisfactory conclusion, where all the little hints and pieces scattered across the previous books were stringed together, delivering a remarkable answer to the puzzle. The new knowledge on dragons discovered through Isabella's research over the course of the series was elegantly combined with the archeological discoveries regarding the Draconian civilization and… Voila! This masterpiece of a book happened.

I don't believe there's much more I could say without delivering major spoilers, and believe me, the surprise is simply delightful.

Otherwise, the book had everything else the previous novels had: amazing characters, amazing pacing, amazing adventures, amazing scientific discoveries, amazing humour… The list goes on.

This series is truly a gem.
Profile Image for Udy Kumra.
282 reviews42 followers
February 6, 2023
2/6/23: 5 stars. Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan. 5 stars. An excellent, satisfying, mind-blowing conclusion to the series, with so many cool ideas and concepts that were executed excellently. Specifically, this is one of the most "high concept" fantasy books I've ever read and I loved how it all played out. This series is one of my GOATs now, possibly sitting at number 4 or 5 and moving Cradle out of the top 5 and cosmere down to 7.
Profile Image for Aleshanee.
1,411 reviews97 followers
September 1, 2019
Ich bin ja von der Reihe an sich sehr begeistert: Als eine Art Memoiren in Form von Reiseberichten erzählt Lady Trent, wie sie in einer Gesellschaft, die das viktorianische Zeitalter wiederspiegelt, gegen sämtliche Konventionen kämpft, um als Frau akzeptiert zu werden. Und zwar nicht nur als schönes Beiwerk eines Ehemannes, sondern als Wissenschaftlerin, die sich der Forschung nach Drachen verschrieben hat.
Im letzten Teil war es mir anfangs leider etwas zu zähflüssig bis es wirklich voranging - und auch wenn die politische Lage der Länder, die in den Bänden immer wieder mit einfließt, eine große Rolle spielt, war es mir hier einen Tick zu viel.
Der Mittelteil war dann wie gewohnt faszinierend und abenteuerlich, wogegen das Ende dann wieder etwas nachgelassen hat.
Die Entdeckung, die Isabella hier in den eisigen Bergen gemacht hat, ist bahnbrechend und hat mich sehr überrascht. Aus ihrer Sichtweise erzählt sie wie üblich mit einem etwas spröden, aber unglaublich erfrischend trockener Art, was mir grade an dieser Reihe besonders gut gefallen hat.

Eine starke Frau, ein Vorbild, die zeigt dass man einen Weg finden kann, wenn der Wille da ist und ein wunderbares Sammelsurium an Drachenkunde, wie man sie so sicher noch nicht gelesen hat. Ich kann die Reihe auf jeden Fall empfehlen für jeden, der nach außergewöhnlichem Ausschau hält.
Profile Image for Jenia.
413 reviews101 followers
November 15, 2020
This is probably my favourite light-hearted swashbuckling-adventure series. It's just so *fun*. Wonderful conclusion. I'm sorry to say goodbye to Isabella, but I can't wait to see her granddaughter in the next one :)
Profile Image for Ellie.
575 reviews2,120 followers
April 8, 2019
"Although my memoirs are of course the story of my life and career, they are also a story of discovery: of curiosity, and investigation, and learning, not only regarding dragons but many other topics."

This series ended on a pitch-perfect note, though I am very sad to see it completed at last. The memoirs of Isabella Trent are really unlike any other fantasy book series out there that I know of: a perfect blend of Victorian-inspired fantasy, discovery and dragon naturalism. It is detailed on a level of worldbuilding and science (though partly made-up it may be) that makes it feel more than realistic to pass in our real world. Over five instalments, Lady Isabella Trent has grown from a dragon-obsessed girl to an admirable, knowledgeable dragon naturalist, and that in itself is incredibly empowering as she is also a woman making waves in the traditionally male-dominated area of natural science.

It actually wasn't my attention to finish this book today (I had a list of other things to do), but I was swept away and read the final 260-ish pages in one sitting. It was just so engaging, and the 'discoveries' made within this book are just fascinating.

I did hear a rumour somewhere that there might be a follow-up series to this one set a little bit after the events of this book, which I dearly do hope is true because I would fully support that. This series is niche, but it's wonderful. Not only are the covers great, but the audiobooks are also brilliant to listen to - sometimes it felt as if I was listening to an extremely fun natural science podcast.

For those who like Maniscalco's Stalking Jack The Ripper series, this would be a potential further read. Isabella Trent and Audrey Rose Wadsworth are very similar heroines, being ambitious women in a male-dominated space. The only difference is that Audrey Rose is interested in biology and Isabella in dragon naturalism, and that the tone of the two series themselves are quite different (this series does have a much more mature, academic tone). Indeed, Isabella Trent is also comparable to Jane from Tarzan - just interested in studying dragons, rather than apes. Any fan of dragons would like this series, I imagine. It really is a unique read, and I've greatly enjoyed my time with all the books.

> 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Eglathren.
121 reviews18 followers
September 17, 2018
I'm so overwhelmed with the amount of information and feelings this last book of the series gave me. I want to talk about stuff that will spoil anyone who has yet to read it, but I'll refrain from doing that and just go ahead and say YES EVERYTHING I WANTED TO HAPPEN HAPPENED AND THIS IS BEAUTIFUL AND GOT ME TEARFUL AND EXCITED ABOUT MY OWN DREAMS WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT EVERY GOOD BOOK SHOULD DO. I normally suffer from post-book depression but this little piece of a marvel is so well accomplished that I'm not feeling that in any way (at least for now). Before I finished this book I was concerned, thinking I didn't want it to end and worrying that I would never fall in love with another book series the same way. But then I realised I don't have to. What I feel for this series cannot be compared to what I feel for Harry Potter - and that's ok. Because they're different. Because I AM different. I read each of these at the right combination of age and mindset, and this is not so easy to achieve because you never know if you will suceed until you try it.

Was this book perfect? No, of course not. I don't think I've ever read any perfect books, even if I may use the word as a manner of expressing myself. But oh goodness, was it amazing! Brennan had a story to tell. Isabella had her story to tell. And tell it they did. The bittersweet feeling of wanting to read more about Jake and Natalie will stay but it's greatly mitigated by how good I'm feeling right now. Because I'm glad to have read this series both because it's amazing and because the end was so perfectly soothing and exciting that I can't mourn it - if there's something I've learned with these books is that this story has come to an end and that is absolutely fine because now I'm looking forward to the next aventure!
Profile Image for Vernice.
336 reviews116 followers
August 30, 2017
I feel kind of sad saying goodbye to Lady Trent... I've grown quite fond of her. She was a kick-ass woman who refused to accept the sexism of her time and worked relentlessly to pursue her passion and fight for her rights. By all accounts she's pretty awesome, though she has the kind of luck that you have to wonder if it's maybe a little unrealistic... even for a fantasy series.

This last adventure wasn't the most exciting, but it was certainly the biggest discovery and it had it's moments. It had a little of the "running out of steam" feel most series get after a while, and even the drawings were only so-so. While I'd probably still read another one if it came to it, I'm glad Marie Brennan knew to end it when it was time. There's nothing quite as frustrating as dragging out a good series so much that it turns bad...

That's not saying I didn't enjoy it though...

It's difficult to review this one without giving too much away, and honestly I don't feel lus to try right now, so I'll just go with it was a good ending to a good series. Maybe nothing spectacular about it that'll have people talking about it for ever like Harry Potter. But it's definitely a series I'll recommend to other readers... and I might even reread it again in the future.
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,403 reviews292 followers
May 8, 2017
The end.
I am sad to see this series end but as Isabella herself says in her memoirs, the truly interesting parts has already happened. And I will take her word for it.

In this one she braves the highest mountains in the world in search of new dragons. And...oh I can't say but there are secrets, revelations and things I did not see coming! Exciting stuff.

I like Isabella, she so wants to explore and learn new things and here she feels she needs to get out in the field again. Her husband is trying to decipher the Draconian language and is all for a trip too. Aww he is so nice.

I wish I could say more about the journey but trust me, it's a good one. And as always I love the way it is written. It feels so real you know, like this really is a memoir from back in the day.

This is a great series. It is written as a memoir of an inspiring woman who studies dragons. The world is rich and interesting. And as it now has ended, I do recommend it to all and read them in order so you get all her adventures.

Profile Image for Lo.
245 reviews35 followers
June 5, 2017
I don't think I've ever been more exited for the conclusion of a series... and sad that it's concluding! I don't ever recommend these books, because I can't think of who else would like them, but man these are right up my nerdy feminist alley!

Update now that I've read it: what a great series! After the final revalations which were, looking back, alluded to so many times before by Lady Trent, I have to read the whole series again. And I'm delighted!

Ultimately this series answers a question I'd never thought to ask myself: what if Indiana Jones were actually good at his job? You know, followed archeological principles and kept office hours and stuff... also, as a nice bonus, he's a lady!
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