A Natural History of Dragons — Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons — Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons is a memoir of world-renowned dragon naturalist, Lady Trent, and much of the book goes into how she rises above the male-dominated conventions of her time to explore, travel, and study dragons. As a no-nonsense woman of science, she has a distinct voice, and it is satisfying to watch her succeed despite society holding her back. I’m a sucker for that storyline. Her voice was a welcome contrast to the cold, at times unfeeling, society she finds herself in.

Because it’s a memoir written by Lady Trent in her older years, the reader already knows she has found her calling. However, this also makes it hard for the book to build suspense and set stakes, which at times made it difficult to keep going. As much as I enjoyed the writing (and of course, Isabella’s musings), I needed some stakes, high or low, to anchor me into the story. Or maybe even more about dragons, of which there was unfortunately very little. Of course, readers who prefer musings and misgivings may feel differently.

I was surprised that, despite Lady Trent’s struggles as a woman in a male-dominated field, she always traveled with and ordered maids around, lol. It did take me out of the story a little, but I think it’s also very important to note that just because someone is fighting for social equality, does not mean they fight for everyone. As such, it is very possible for supporters of gender equality to be discriminatory against other groups. Personally, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard: “I’m not racist, I fight for women’s rights” like it makes the slightest bit of sense. So while it took me out of the story, I do have to remind myself that it was, unfortunately, realistic.

Despite some things that didn’t quite work for me, I enjoyed A Natural History of Dragons. It was a fun read to pass the time.

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