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A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #1)
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February Discussions > A Natural History of Dragons - Feb 2015

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I finished this book the other day and gave is three stars. It was alright. It was set in a Victorian era in a world with all different national, regional and urban names - and with dragons - and presented as a travelogue by a somewhat sarcastic lower upper class woman.

I didn't hate it at all, but I didn't think it was particularly memorable either. It was amusing in parts and had some interesting dragons and dragon-like creatures in it. I did enjoy that the dragons were presented as natural animals and not magical creatures or sentient or anything similar ...

.... I don't think I'll follow-up with the second one though. Oh, and if you haven't picked up a copy yet, Amazon for US customers currently has it at $3 - which is $7 less than I paid for it.


Donna (donnahr) I was going to give this one a pass, mainly because of the price. Thanks for the heads up on that, Geoffrey. I picked it up and will read it next.


Esther Thanks for the heads up on the discount - so useful that it came right when we scheduled to read this.

I've only just started but enjoying so far...


Donna (donnahr) I finished the book this weekend and really enjoyed it. It is certainly not a typical fantasy in any way. It blends a lot of genres--fantasy, science, mystery--all of which I like. One thing that was a bit confusing and seemed unnecessary was using different names for places, months... It's clearly an alternate version of our own world so I don't know why she chose to do that. I can see that the language, which is very Victorian, could people off if you don't like that type of writing.

I liked the characters and the story and am interested to read more in this series. The price is pretty steep though. The next book is $12.99 at the moment so I won't be picking it up until the price comes down.


Esther I've just finished this book and I enjoyed it very much. At first, it reminded me of Robin Hobb's latest Dragon series, but as it progressed it developed a very distinctive flavour of its own.

One thing that was a bit confusing and seemed unnecessary was using different names for places, months... It's clearly an alternate version of our own world so I don't know why she chose to do that.

While she uses pieces of our world, I do think she needed to make it a different one. Firstly, to distinguish it from books like Naomi Novik's, but also, secondly, because it didn't feel like it would fit neatly in our world. As much as Vystrana feels like a Slavic nation, the specificity of it didn't feel like it would fit with our history.

Marie Brennan's Onyx Court books are set in our world, with the fantastic world overlaid with it, so I don't think she was trying to avoid our normal history. I think it was more a deliberate choice to give her flexibility. As an anthropologist, I think she wanted to use the cultural aspects of our world, with more space around how the history develops.

To be honest, that choice didn't really bother me.

Because of its particular style, it probably wouldn't work for everyone. But I thought it enjoyable and easy to read.


Clay (snoweel) | 3 comments The plot itself wasn't the most exciting thing I've ever read but I really enjoyed the style of it, as a naturalist's journal, and from the perspective of a woman in a very sexist society. Looking forward to reading the sequels, although I have been hoping for a bit of a price drop (currently $11.99 for book 2 I think).

As an aside, I ordered a print of the gorgeous cover for book 3 (Voyage of the Basilisk) from the artist Todd Lockwood.


Victoria Gaile (victoriagaile) | 6 comments Hi all, I've been following this group for a while but this was the first time you read a book I wanted to read at a time when I could read it.

The initial setting appealed to me, and I was charmed by how much actual science there was in this fantasy novel: science the process, I mean. All the conversational or parenthetical comments about reasoning from data were perfectly legitimate science.

Given how the book begins, I was surprised how little of it takes place in strait-laced not-Victorian not-England: it turned into a different book than the one the opening led me to expect, but I liked it just as much.

If you liked the concept of this book but were turned off by the particular period setting, I highly recommend Patricia C. Wrede's "Frontier Magic" trilogy, which starts with Thirteenth Child. It's set in the recognizably-American West during the 19th century, which includes both natural and magical creatures. So there's more magic, but it still has the naturalist element.


Bridgett Ashley | 5 comments I really enjoyed it. Even though it had dragons, and alternate place names, it didn't feel like fantasy. It felt very much like a historical fiction, about those few Victorian women who had both the desire to be scientists, and somehow managed to overcome society's objections to do it. (Usually by being rich enough). It made me want to go find a biography of Margaret Gatty, or someone like her.

Looking forward to reading the sequels.


Victoria Gaile (victoriagaile) | 6 comments Bridgett wrote: "... it didn't *feel* like fantasy. It felt very much like a historical fiction, about those few Victorian women who had both the desire to be scientists, and somehow managed to overcome society's objections to do it."

Yes!
And did you notice the Library of Congress tags for the book??

1. Women scientists -- Fiction.
2. Dragons -- Fiction.



Donna (donnahr) Bridgett wrote: "It felt very much like a historical fiction, about those few Victorian women who had both the desire to be scientists, and somehow managed to overcome society's objections to do it. ..."

I, too, was reminded of that group of (real) adventurous women (though not necessarily scientists). It's been awhile since I've read that genre but it brought to mind a few I've read:

My Journey to Lhasa: The Classic Story of the Only Western Woman Who Succeeded in Entering the Forbidden City
A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains
Unsuitable for Ladies: An Anthology of Women Travellers
No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers

Victoria wrote: "And did you notice the Library of Congress tags for the book??

1. Women scientists -- Fiction.
2. Dragons -- Fiction."


That is funny. Great combination.


Bridgett Ashley | 5 comments Victoria, No I didn't see the Library of Congress tags. Those are perfect.

Donna, thanks for the recommendations. I'll have to check those books out.


Esther On the women issue, what I really liked about this book is how she was different from her surrounding culture but still felt like she belonged in it. I find that other fictional accounts I've read of women scientists in this kind of historical period, they often feel like modern women dumped in an earlier period versus say an early feminist like Wollstonecraft.


message 13: by Clay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Clay (snoweel) | 3 comments I just started this one, but for another fantasy/alt historical book about a woman scientist/naturalist in "Victorian" times, look into A Thousand Perfect Things. Has an interesting beginning and a similar tone.


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