A Writing Journey

Posts tagged ‘book review’

“The Tropic of Serpents”

Oh my oh my. I will preface by saying that I have had this book almost since I finished the first, “A Natural History of Dragons.” I’ve been trying with all my might to pace myself on this one, but I had a shift of work this week that encouraged reading, and this morning I could not resist finishing the tale.

I, of course, do not own this image. And I would like to tip my hat to the wonderful artist, Todd Lockwood.

The second book of Isabella Camherst’s forays into the world of dragons was as captivating as the first. Leaving her homeland for a second time, Isabella believes her trip to Eriga will be easier than her last adventure. Marie Brennan has written her heroine with finesse – I am inclined to believe her a real person. Even more amazing is the world in which the books are set.

I noticed in reading book 1 that Brennan has overlaid a fantasy world on the cultures and countries of our own world in historic times. And yet she does this with such precision that there is no doubt as to her creative powers. I found myself on the edge of my seat (again) and begging for those books which she mentions to be real. Brennan writes:

The history of how this process developed has been discussed at greater length by the Yembe historian … I advise those interested in such matters to read her work…

p.300, “The Tropic of Serpents” by Marie Brennan

If only I could read it! There are omissions in the story that, in large part, are due to one of two reasons. 1)That the narrator (Isabella) is keeping a secret for the people she met whose rules prevent her from discussing certain things and 2) that she refers us to other works which, unfortunately, do not exist. I would love to read those other books. Let me be clear: I by no means think that the omissions are a failure of the book. Rather, they add to it’s authenticity and keep me engaged after I am finished reading.

I recommend with all of my heart that you pick up this book (after, of course, reading A Natural History of Dragons). You will not regret it if you do!

-Emily

“A Natural History of Dragons”

I picked up this book because of the cover. Intriguing, is it not? I’m so glad I bought it – on whim that was encouraged by my dear boyfriend. If I hadn’t, I would not have found my favorite book so far this year, or my new favorite author.

A Natural History of Dragons is the story of Isabella, a young woman with a desire to study dragons. The world in which her tale is set is reminiscent of the Victorian England, both in cultural style and writing style. Isabella recounts how society around her was not set up for her to be a learner, and how she dealt with this in order to achieve her dreams (because some sort of dream-achieving must take place if there is to be an interesting story, right?).

This fantasy “memoir” is in fact fantastic – I could barely put it down and read the entire thing in 3 days. I will admit, I am a sucker for memoirs (at least the ones where interesting things actually happen) and fantasy novels (obviously), so this seemed to be written just for me. From the beginning it gripped me as if it were a dragon an I it’s prey (forgive the pun) and did not let me go. A thoroughly enjoyable read, A Natural History of Dragons kept me on the edge of my seat.

Some people might find the fact that it is a fantasy memoir to take away the suspense (after all, we know Isabella has survived to write it), but as I firmly believe: it’s about the journey and not the destination. Knowing that she survives incites my curiosity as to how – and just because we know she survives doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of plot twists in this amazing tale.

Hats off to Marie Brennan, author of this fantastic work. If I can write something half so true as what she has written, I will be happy. Truly, if you are a writer and need a reminder of why you write, pick up this book. It will whisk you into an alternate history in which our world is not even our world, but the ring of familiarity is there.

I give this book five stars (out of five, of course) and recommend that you all pick up a copy and get lost in Anthiope for a little while.

For more on the book:

http://www.swantower.com/novels/memoirs/dragons/index.html

And of course, I do not own the image.

And, if you happen to see this review posted on Amazon – I put it there. Will be posting it elsewhere as I can.

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