A Natural history of Dragons by

2 December 2013

Call no:
Setting: ,
Rated :

A memoir by Lady Trent

Lady Trent, as all know, is the world’s pre-eminent dragon naturalist. This is her story of how she became that world renowned scientist, how her interest in dragonkind began in her childhood with the preservation of her very first sparkling. A Natural history of dragons is also her memoir detailing her very first scientific journey, along with the problems she faced as the first woman to venture into this academic field.

Okay, it was obviously the cover that attracted me to this book. Take a look at that cover, isn’t it cool?

And the title is intriguing as well, don’t you think. A natural history of dragons, which is also a memoir :) awesome.

The book is set in Scirling, which I pictured as a vague sort of Victorian England, albeit a world in which dragons exist. Isabella, as a child, is fascinated with all animals that fly. But as her interest grows so does her realisation that society will not look favourably on her scientific endeavours. After an accident involving a wolf drake Isabella’s father takes her to one side to explain this, and Isabella realises just what her interest may result in. She decides to be bound by society’s strictures and rules and takes a step back from dragons and all they represent to her.

Of course we know that she will return to that world, otherwise she would never have become the pre-eminent dragon scholar, would she? But I really appreciated the fact that Isabella realised how society would treat her and what it could mean, and dealt with it in a logical manner.

Throughout the book Isabella highlights just how difficult it is for anyone not male and of the upper classes to get ahead, although sometimes only with the benefit of hindsight, this is, afterall, her memoirs. She is looking back and reminiscing so she able to point out later deductions she made as well as how she was feeling at the time.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. The voice of Lady Trent really comes alive and adds so much to the story. I’m also going to count this as my first read for this year’s Sci-Fi Experience. Normally anything with dragons means fantasy not science fiction1 but this book is all about the science, and there is no magic at all. Isabella is a scientist first and foremost, this is a story about a scientific life. Okay it is fictional, and about dragons, but to me it is still a pretty good work of science fiction.

Worlds without end entry

other reviews : The Incurable Bluestocking ; Lynn’s Book Blog ; Little Red Reviewer ; Things Mean A Lot

The 2014 Sci-Fi Experience review site – More info on the Sci-Fi Experience

  1. Pern is really fantasy no matter how McCaffrey tried to make is science 

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11 Responses

  1. I enjoyed this a lot too :) And I recently finished the first of her Onyx Court books which was even better. Highly recommended.
    Ana @ things mean a´s last blog post ..Three Passionate Novels: The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp, My Education, All Our Pretty Songs

    • Fence says:

      I'll have to investigate her other books. I only took a quick look at her website but she seems like an interesting author

  2. Andrea J says:

    A Natural History of Dragons easily made my best of the year list. I immediately connected with Isabella, and how she's got to balance the person she knows she is with what society expects of her. yeah, story of my life.

    • Fence says:

      I really liked how that was dealt with; her recognition of the realities of society battling with her desires and how she had to put them on the back burner until she had the support of a good man :)

  3. I love Todd Lockwood's cover for this book. I remember seeing it crop up online about this time last year and it still stops me in my tracks when I see it.

    Glad you enjoyed the book, appreciate your review as I hadn't had any kind of real handle on what it was about. Also interesting to read your feelings about it being science fiction vs. fantasy. The lines can certainly tend to blur a bit with some works.
    Carl V. Anderson´s last blog post ..The World According to Ellie Quin (Ellie Quin Book 2) ~Alex Scarrow

    • Fence says:

      The cover is wonderful, and I really should have mentioned in my review but there are other illustrations in the book. Black and white, but still great.

      The whole science fiction v fantasy issue has always bemused me. I mean, I know there are differences, but sometimes it can, as you say, be a very blurred line between the two. I like to think that there is a continuum of science fiction and fantasy, at certain points works are very much science based or fantasy based, but they also overlap and share aspects.

  4. L says:

    wow, yeah, that is a lovely book cover. this sounds like an intriguing read.
    L´s last blog post ..{giveaway} the ’30 Days’ reminder

  5. Aarti says:

    I want to read this! I am disappointed that my library doesn't have it in audiobook format. For some reason, it seems like one that would be SO GOOD as an audiobook.
    Aarti´s last blog post ..It’s a jungle out there

    • Fence says:

      Aarti, I think if it had the proper narrator it would make for a brilliant audiobook. And now that you've mentioned narrators, I could totally see this as a wonderful period drama, only you know, with dragons :)

  6. Lynn says:

    So happy that you enjoyed this – I think No.2 is due out fairly soon. I think it was a really good story but more than that I think there is still so much more potential to be explored with this threat – particularly with Lady Trent's development.

    Lynn :D

    Plus – look at that cover!
    Lynn´s last blog post ..In the Company of Thieves by Kage Baker