Rachel Brown's Reviews > The Voyage of the Basilisk

The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, historical, dragons

The continued adventures of Lady Isabella Trent, Victorian explorer and DRAGON NATURALIST. In this volume, Isabella sails around the world on the appropriately named Basilisk, accompanied by her young son Jake, an underwater archaeologist named Suhail, and other companions.

I enjoyed this the most of the series so far. It strikes a perfect balance between action and exploration. Isabella has matured enough to be interesting in a different way from the monomaniac of the first book: still obsessive and headstrong, but more introspective, thoughtful, and interested in people in addition to dragons.

The dragons are great, and there are lots of them. I thoroughly enjoyed the interconnected mysteries of taxonomy, biology, and history. Some mysteries are solved, but others are deepened. I feel confident that the final explanation will be satisfying. (I’m assuming it’s not going to be Isabella discovering evolution, because that seems to already have been discovered – she mentions the concept of different species having a common ancestor as if that’s an ordinary idea to consider.)

The supporting characters in are more vivid and interesting than in the previous installments. Jake comes to life as a personality, both like and unlike his mother, obsessive but on a different topic. Their relationship neatly steers between the obvious clichés of “I hate you for loving dragons more than me” and “Who cares about dragons now that I’m a mommy.” Suhail is a satisfying possible love interest, both sexy and geeky. To Isabella, he’s mostly sexy because he’s geeky, though she does appreciate the multiple occasions when his underwater explorations require him to remove his shirt. I also liked the adrenaline junkie ship’s captain, Aekinitos.

But my favorite supporting character was Heali’i. I loved everything about the part of the book she's involved in. The culture clash between the islanders and the voyagers felt very real, sometimes tense, sometimes funny, neatly showing how frustrated they sometimes got with each other without making either culture look inferior. And that leads neatly into spoilers. (view spoiler)

A tremendously fun and unexpectedly thought-provoking installment of the series, with all the dragons one could desire.

I read an ARC that was missing the illustrations, but based on the stellar quality of the illustrations in the first two books and the extremely tempting captions, I will have to buy the actual book to get them. I would also pay for a book of more illustrations plus Isabella’s field notes on dragons, and I bet I’m not the only one.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 11, 2015 – Shelved
April 11, 2015 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 11, 2015 – Shelved as: historical
April 11, 2015 – Shelved as: dragons

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