5bat! Review: The Tropic of Serpents (Memoir by Lady Trent #2) by Marie Brennan

April 28, 2014 Review 2

5bat! Review: The Tropic of Serpents (Memoir by Lady Trent #2) by Marie BrennanThe Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
Series: Memoir by Lady Trent #2
Published by Tor on Published March 4th 2014 by Tor Books
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 331
Source: Publisher
Excerpt: Excerpt
Sexual Content: None.
Reviewed by: Julia
5 Stars

The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's The Tropic of Serpents . . .

Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

Marie Brennan is a wizard at mixing the real world and magic, whether in the past or present.  No book better exemplifies her skill than THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS, a facsimile of a historical memoir that effectively adds hints of modernity in it's structure, character growth, and fast paced adventure.  THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS is a book you'll want in hardback on your shelf, as precious for it's illustrations, dust jacket, and the lovely green cover between them as it is for this story, perhaps my favorite of Lady Trent's adventures thus far.

A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS covers the beginnings of Isabella's passion for biology, her struggles to balance the expectations of an almost Victorian society against her own intellect and passion.  THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS opens with Isabella no less surrounded by those expectations, but with her established allies from book one, she is soon unfettered to pursue her studies beyond the confines of polite society, in the exotic jungles of Eriga.  THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS is less about the boundaries of her own society, and much more about Isabella's formation of her own expectations and identity.  Surrounded by foreign cultures and political agendas, doubts about her future and her own identity, Isabella's passion for the natural world around her, and dragons in particular, gives her purity of purpose amidst uncertainty.  Brennan deftly intertwines details about the natural world with Isabella's own development, managing to keep me as engaged in Lady Trent's present as I eagerly anticipate her future.

While A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS focuses on Isabella's youth and early married life, THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS shows her strengthening and growing into herself as an individual.  Though indelibly a product of her time and society, Isabella's passion for biology drives her to grow beyond the Victorian attitudes of her time, making her the perfect conduit for a modern reader's entry into her world.  This adventure is thrilling in it's own right, and when coupled with Isabella's growth and personal achievements, it leaves me more anxious than ever to continue her memoirs with THE VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK.

Series Titles:
  1. A Natural History of Dragons - 5/5
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2 Responses to “5bat! Review: The Tropic of Serpents (Memoir by Lady Trent #2) by Marie Brennan”

  1. Mina

    I loved the book as much as you did Julia! I wrote a real fan-girl kind of review on Amazon.de to help spread the word in Germany how wonderfully these books are. Can’t wait for the next one!

    • Julia

      I’m glad you’re getting the word out, Mina, I think this series is pretty great.