Sunday, 1 July 2018

Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan is the third book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I have previously read, reviewed and enjoyed the first two books: A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents. I have been enjoying the series so much that I have, so far, read the books in quick succession and, if anything, I enjoyed this third volume even more.

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

This time we follow Isabella and friends as she makes a trip around the world to study dragons in diverse locales. The premise of this one grabbed me right from when Isabella suggested the journey at the end of the second book and the journey itself didn't disappoint. The expedition team visits a few new countries, studies many dragons and makes some exciting discoveries. (If you're wondering how a journey around the world fit into a single volume of this not overly doorstopper series, the answer is by skipping many of the parts in which nothing except science happened.)

I particularly liked the world building in this book. Brennan's world building isn't exactly new, since we've already seen other part of the world in the first two books, but she continues to handle the development of the secondary world well. There are still clear parallels with our world, but the map isn't just a renamed version of Earth and hence some different geopolitical situations play out across it.

As well as enjoying the characters, many of whom are new and most of whom I hope we'll meet again, I want to note something character related that Brennan has done a good job with. A lot of people try to excuse not dealing with QUILTBAG issues in historical fiction because these are perceived to be modern concerns. Brennan does a good job of bringing some of them into the narrative in quite natural ways without at all altering the Regency/Victorian feel of her books. That said, they are very minor aspects of the narrative as a whole, but I still like how these things were handled in this book and the previous volume (and I'm not being more specific because spoilers).

I enjoyed a lot about this book and I am very keen to read the next one in the series. As has been happening with all the book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent, new information about dragons has been revealed and the promise of further adventures awaits. And I really want to see what happens with one of the newly introduced characters, who must at least be mentioned in future books from the hints we got.

As you have probably gathered, I am very keen to read the next book in the series, In the Labyrinth of Drakes. I will be doing so as soon as I can. In the meantime, I highly recommend Voyage of the Basilisk to fans of the series who have enjoyed the previous books. I think this instalment is even more enjoyable than the first two, so let that guide you if you are wavering.

5 / 5 stars

First published: 2015, Tor Books
Series: Memoirs of Lady Trent book 3 of 5
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased on iBooks

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