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Review: The Tropic Of Serpents by Marie Brennan (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #2)

The Tropic of Serpents: A Memoir by Lady Trent (Natural History of Dragons)  by Marie Brennan (17-Feb-2015) Paperback: Books -


…it does little good to cry, “I only wanted to study dragons!” Science is not separate from politics. As much as I would like it to be a pure thing, existing only in some intellectual realm unsullied by human struggle, it will always be entangled with the world we live in.

Reviewing sequels is tricky business. Reviewing sequels years after you read the previous book is trickier. I read the first book before I started this blog, and I knew I liked it enough to want to continue – but, well, it has been a while. While I fortunately had no issues remembering what happened before, I was very much not in the mood for it anymore. If not for the r/Fantasy Bingo, I would not have persisted.

Isabella, now widowed, embarks on an expedition to the continent of Eriga, in hope to learn more about the tropical swamp-wyrm. The first part of the book, before she sets off, I enjoyed the least. And I know that the problem here is likely entirely me – I am sick to death of historical books set in England or fantasy-England. Especially the constant preoccupation with marriage as soon as you have female main characters. Though I did like how the issue of Isabella’s friend Natalie – who is aromantic and asexual and does not wish to be married – was resolved and that she was able to go on an adventure regardless.

I did not start enjoying myself until they entered the jungle and things finally started to get a bit more interesting, the pacing a little faster. I loved that despite having a protagonist from a colonizer country, it does address the issue of colonialism and interaction between the cultures, as much as it can with the framing. And I have always liked reading about culture clashes.

The finale is also excellent, but in the end, I can’t escape the fact that it was not the right book for me at the time. I struggled. Though I would like to continue the series, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Enjoyment: 3/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: fans of fantasy of manners and adventure novels, those looking for jungle settings  or scientist protagionists, dragon enthusiasts
Not recommended to: well, if you didn’t like the first book, you’re not going to like this one either

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