Tropic of the Serpents by Marie Brennan (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #2)

a-natural-history-of-dragonsEveryone knows Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. Here, at last, in her own words, is the story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, prospects, and her life to satisfy scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the mountains of Vystrana, where she made discoveries that would change the world.

Published 5th February 2013

334 pages

Should read – 4 stars

the-tropic-of-serpentsThree 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.

Published 4th March 2016

331 pages

Try It – 3.5 stars

Read from 16th to 21st February

So this was quite a strange pick up. On one hand I wanted to delve back into this series but I think it was too soon especially considering they are 2/3 years apart in the story. I really did enjoy this but I don’t think it lived up to the first novel due to its different approach.

This book seemed more focused on the politics and there really wasn’t that much about dragons. In the first book pretty much everything revolved around the dragons and yes this one did too but it felt like it in a more indirect way. I really hated how much the politics fell into this because it just created such stupid situations that weren’t enjoyable to read about.

The main thing that I liked about this book was the cultural aspects. I really like getting to know the new lands and their practices because I love that in my life, so much so that I went to Malawi and fell in love with it. This just gave me that feeling of going into a completely different community and being a part of it. Granted I only did it for such a short time but I would love to get to do it for as long as Isabella does.

The ‘real’ story took some time to evolve and it made the story drag for so long. When it actually got to the meat of the issue then I did start to enjoy it more but overall it felt very far away from a natural history exploration of dragons to me. There just seemed to be less interesting aspects to the dragons and the really intriguing things didn’t occur until the end and then it all felt so rushed.

I really didn’t like Isabella’s side companions, I could deal with Tom but I didn’t really get the point of Natalie except the narrator telling us how valuable she was and how much comfort she received. I think it was hard not having Jacob in this book because there wasn’t that extra connection and it was really missing for me.

There is so much going on in the overarching plot but due to its nature it all happens at once and there’s no real development so it’s a bit hard to connect with these elements and remember their importance.

One thing I love about this is that it is not a perfect depiction of a ‘lady’ and what a woman should feel and must do according to social convention. The author touches on some really important issues and shows, especially concerning motherhood, that not everyone feels the same and some may choose to go about it differently and connect with their children in different ways. It also brings a view on grief and Isabella really has to confront this in the middle of her expedition and this is one of my favourite scenes from the whole story.

I liked this book overall but there just wasn’t that much development or growth for me in real terms. The author conveyed the changes simply by the passage of time and that is not my favourite way for character development to occur. It has its place but when it is the only device used then I tend to see it in a more negative light.

Thanks for reading folks!

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