Not a day goes by that the post does not bring me at least one letter from a young person (or sometimes one not so young) who wishes to follow in my footsteps and become a dragon naturalist. Nowadays, of course, the field is quite respectable, with university courses and intellectual societies putting out fat volumes titled Proceedings of some meeting or other. Those interested in respectable things, however, attend my lectures. The ones who write to me invariably want to hear about my adventures: my escape from captivity in the swamps of Mouleen, or my role in the great Battle of Keonga, or (most frequently) my flight to the inhospitable heights of the Mrtyahaima peaks, the only place on earth where the secrets of the ancient world could be unlocked.
Even the most dedicated of letter-writers could not hope to answer all these queries personally. I have therefore accepted the offer from Messrs. Carrigdon & Rudge to publish a series of memoirs, chronicling the more interesting portions of my life. By and large these shall focus on those expeditions which led to the discovery for which I have become so famous, but there shall also be occasional digressions into matters more entertaining, personal, or even (yes) salacious. One benefit of being an old woman now, and moreover one who has been called a "national treasure," is that there are very few who can tell me what I may and may not write.
Beyond this point, therefore, lie foetid swamps, society gossip, disfiguring diseases, familial conflicts, hostile foreigners, and a plenitude of mud. You, dear reader, continue on at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart -- no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon's presence, even for the briefest of moments -- even at the risk of one's life -- is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. If my humble words convey even a fraction of that wonder, I will rest content.
In this first volume, I will relate to you how my career as a lady adventurer and dragon naturalist began, commencing at the creation of my childhood fascination with all things winged, and for the bulk of its length describing my first foreign expedition, to study the rock-wyrms of Vystrana. Common gossip has made the bare facts well-known, but I warn you, dear reader, that all was not as you have heard.
Isabella, Lady TrentCasselthwaite, Linshire11 Iyar, 1895Oh dragons! You know I jumped at the chance to read this especially since I also heard that there were some good illustrations to go with it. However, I did worry that I may find the book dry. My worry was because I've read a few of these alternate reality books like this. Unfortunately they tend to mimic the books you might have gotten if it was real too well and became a dry alternate science course. I'm happy to find that this was not the case with this book. It presents itself like a biography but only concentrates on one part of Isabella's life. So, it turns out as more of an adventure story.
In this we find out why and how Isabella's obsession turns into a profession. It's like sitting down with her as she recollects what happened during that time now that she is an old lady telling her story. This helps you get into the story quite easily and root for her to become what she seeks in scientific study at a time where women's main concern was to catch a husband to better their station and live in society. This was a hard time for women like her.
The last part of the story is a telling of her big first adventure away from home to study dragons. She manipulated her husband into going and than taking her. Although this often doesn't endear me to the heroine, in this case it didn't bother me. That was because of Jacob, her husband. He knew full well what she was trying to do and confronted her with the fact. I have to say that Jacob was my fave character throughout the book even when he did become a bit mulish and tried to be the husband expected of him by controlling her. Mostly because that behavior didn't last and he was in love and just wanted her to be happy.
Isabella, while I did like her, I didn't like her as much as Jacob. While Jacob often thought of others especially his wife, Isabella often seemed to me to be a bit selfish. While I did understand why she would have to push and manipulate at that time to get even a fraction of what she wanted, I would have liked to have seen a bit more thought to Jacob. She did do that more and more as the story progressed and it kept her selfishness in check at times, but I would have just loved to have seen her sacrifice her wants at least as much as he did for her. Despite my feelings on this, it did not distract from the adventure and I really did enjoy the fact that Isabella was the one to figure out most things intellectually.
In the end I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed this alternate reality and wished that dragons really did exist like this. It's a fun book and I do hope that we get more of Isabella's adventures. The way it is written you assume lots of growth from this character in her later years.
I received this book from tor and no compensation for my review was given.
Last day to enter for the giveaway! Just go HERE to go to that post. If nothing else check out what the author says about the artwork and check out the artwork itself! Also, don't forget to download the cover for your electronic devices. The links can be found on the post as well.