I didn’t know what to expect with this book, but it caught my eye every time I found myself in Barnes and Noble—the cover is just so beautiful. Eventually, I gave in and bought it, even though I hadn’t (and still haven’t) read any of the preceding books in the series.
I wasn’t disappointed, even though it’s not a particularly unique world and I’m not terribly fond of the Victorian-diarist writing style (it just comes off as affected to me, and it pulls me out of the story).
One of this book’s most distinguishing features is actually the physical printing. It’s all blue. Text, pictures, front matter—everything is printed not in black ink, but in a lovely dark blue color. I have no idea why, but it’s striking, and certainly not something you see every day. It made a good impression.
I found Lady Trent immediately likable as a character—she’s not perfect, but she’s smart and self-assured despite living in a Victorian-type society that undervalues the contributions of women. I was quickly drawn in by her adventures, all of which take place on an exploratory sea voyage around the world, à la Charles Darwin. I’m a biology student myself, so I found that interesting—particularly because her subjects of study aren’t everyday creatures, but dragons.
The pacing of the story and the development of the characters/their relationships (both romantic and otherwise) are just perfect, and the conclusion wasn’t a cliffhanger, but still left me wanting to know what comes next. I think it’s very likely I’ll pick up more books in this series.
Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed--until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal.
Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.