Thursday, 26 July 2018

In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan

In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan is the third book in the five-book Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I have previously reviewed all the earlier books in the series: A Natural History of Dragons, The Tropic of Serpents, and Voyage of the Basilisk. This is a series I've been enjoying a lot and this fourth instalment does not deviate from that trend.

The thrilling new book in the acclaimed fantasy series from Marie Brennan, as the glamorous Lady Trent takes her adventurous explorations to the deserts of Akhia.

Even those who take no interest in the field of dragon naturalism have heard of Lady Trent's expedition to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia. Her discoveries there are the stuff of romantic legend, catapulting her from scholarly obscurity to worldwide fame. The details of her personal life during that time are hardly less private, having provided fodder for gossips in several countries.

As is so often the case in the career of this illustrious woman, the public story is far from complete. In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Royal Scirling Army; how foreign saboteurs imperilled both her work and her well-being; and how her determined pursuit of knowledge took her into the deepest reaches of the Labyrinth of Drakes, where the chance action of a dragon set the stage for her greatest achievement yet.

I imagine it will come as no surprise to readers of this blog when I say that I found this book quite delightful, as I have the earlier instalments. This book sees Isabella and Tom sent off to Akhia to help the Scirling Army develop a dragon breeding programme. Isabella's brother, who joined the army at some point, features quite a lot in this one, and it was nice to get to know him better after having only met him in their youth in the first book (also, his presence turned out to be very convenient for several plot reasons). Since the book is set mostly Akhia, the homeland of a certain character we met in the previous book, I was suspicious of every Akhian we met, waiting for him to inevitably show up. Your mileage may vary.

One of the things I've liked most about this series is the very scientific approach to the study of dragons. I think I commented in one of my earlier reviews that they're showing a very 19th century approach to science too. The studies in this one follow the scientific method rather more rigorously than the previous books. Isabella and Tom aren't wandering around in the wilderness hoping to encounter dragons, but rather have a supply (more or less) of dragons that they are trying to study. I found it made quite compelling reading — and don't worry, there are still ill-advised jaunts out into the desert to observe dragons in their natural habitat.

I highly recommend this book to readers who have enjoyed the previous books. If the idea of scientific studies of dragons interests you, definitely give these books a go. While I wouldn't go so far as to say these books stand alone, their are more self-contained than other series often are and probably could be read out of order. That's not to say that I recommend doing so, since the story progresses quite nicely in chronological order, building on earlier events and discoveries. I intend to read the next book immediately, and only paused between books to write this review.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2016, Tor Books
Series: The Memoirs of Lady Trent book 4 of 5
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased on iBooks

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