THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS
Brennan’s follow up to A Natural History of Dragons is every bit as exciting and engrossing as the first part of Lady Trent’s memoir. Isabella is a narrator readers will sympathize with, and the introduction of Natalie — who shares Isabella’s thirst for knowledge and disinterest in proper female societal roles — only makes the story more enjoyable. Brennan’s fictitious world is well constructed, mixing elements of Victorian Europe with her own original locales. Isabella’s strength and bravery in the name of scientific advancement (not in the self-involved “For science!” sense, mind you, but for its own sake) is beyond admirable — she’s a model protagonist.
Three years after her first journey to the mountains of Vystrana — a dangerous pursuit that cost her husband his life — dragon anthropologist Isabella Camherst is ready for another scholarly adventure. Although she’s made some progress with her research, Isabella is still faced with the obstacles set in place by the strict social norms of her alt-history Victorian-esque society. While her colleagues are hesitant to recognize the work of a woman, her family is critical of her obsession with dragons and her disinterest in motherhood. On the verge of a major breakthrough that is only set back after some notes are stolen, Isabella departs with a team of familiar faces and a new companion — Natalie, granddaughter of Lord Hilford — to journey through war-ridden Eriga, where they will face violence, illness and, of course, many dangerous winged beasts. (TOR, Mar., 336 pp., $25.99)