"THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS: A Memoir by Lady Trent," by Marie Brennan, Tor Books, $25.99, 331 pages (f)
Lady Trent has returned with a second volume of her memoirs, “The Tropic of Serpents.” As with the first offering in the five-book series, “A Natural History of Dragons,” the focus is on Lady Trent’s (also called Isabella Camherst) work finding and documenting all things dragon. She is once again accompanied by Mr. Wilker, an assistant to Lord Hilford, the patron to Lady Trent’s expedition. Along with a runaway heiress, the party has made arrangements to explore the kingdom of Eriga, looking for more dragons to catalog and study.
Marie Brennan, the creator of the fascinating characters found in “The Tropic of Serpents,” opens the door to a new vision of what it would be like to have dragons living among humans. Set in a Victorian-era world, Brennan invites the reader to join Lady Trent and her companions on an adventure to a new land rich with mystery and physical challenges.
Not only does Isabella want to find and study dragons, she also wants to test theories and methods devised for preserving the fragile (in death) yet nearly indestructible (while living) bones of the winged beasts.
Along the way, Lady Trent must deal with the political intrigues of the kingdom of Eriga and the vagaries of her own land of Scirland. Treaties between nations may fall if she and her band of adventurers are not careful. And maybe even worse, her widowed but young and beautiful condition means she will be pursued by some seeking a beneficial "marital alliance."
“The Tropic of Serpents” has no foul language or inappropriate behavior but does have some reference made to menses — nothing explicit, but it is a thread for part of the story.
Those who have read the first volume of these memoirs will be delighted with the continuation of Lady Trent’s stories. Written in a wry and to-the-point voice, the memoir has the gritty feel of reality. Fortunately, it is not necessary to have read volume one in order to enjoy the current story of this intrepid scholar and lady of honor.
Mike Whitmer can be reached at email@example.com. He also blogs at mtwhitmer.blogspot.com