Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Tropic of Serpents, by Marie Brennan

Today I'm looking at the second in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series, Tropic of Serpents, where Lady Trent (Still just Isabella Camherst) finally gets to go on her next expedition to study dragons in their natural habitats in a Scirling colony in Egria. Lady Trent gets to examine not only the dragon species inhabiting the savanna, but eventually gets to explore the dangerous jungle known as the Green Hell and study Mulish swamp wyrms. Despite her desire to stick just to science, Isabella soon finds herself embroiled in politics and the fate of Scirling influence in Egria ends up, much to her dismay, in her hands.

Overall I thought this book was really good. One of the things Brennan does that  I like is the use of real-world cultures to populate her universe. Granted, it's fairly transparent if you know what to look for, but it's definitely an easy way for her to make a universe that feels real and grounded, despite the fact that it has dragons in it. And her study of dragons feels like a realistic, natural science approach to studying dragons and classifying them as species. Furthermore, Isabella is by no means a perfect person. By her own admission she's not a very good parent and she feels emotions like anger, frustration, and jealousy so it makes her feel more three-dimensional as a character than if she was just the consummate biologist.

There are some hints that make me a little concerned about Isabella being just a little too perfect. She keeps saying she has this bad habit of saying the wrong thing to the wrong people which makes her a terrible diplomat, but it always seems to work out for her in the end. Also I think she managed to find the universe's version of the Rosetta stone entirely by accident which feels a little bit too convenient for her. Granted our Rosetta Stone was also found by accident, but it seems just a tad fortunate that Isabella manages to stumble across it. I'm assuming it's the Rosetta stone because it's got at least two languages on it and one of them is unknown and apparently it's now in a museum and is quite famous. Hopefully later books will show us.

But overall, I think this book is pretty good and I look forward to listening to the other books in the series. It feels like a very genuine Victorian-era expedition to study the biology of dragons and I quite enjoy it.

- Kalpar

No comments:

Post a Comment