Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #2)

Macmillan Audio, March 2014

Isabella Camherst is now a mostly reclusive widow, and her son, born after her husband Jacob died, is three years old. She's still pursuing her study of dragons, and she has a new expedition planned, funded by Lord Hilford. This expedition will be to Eriga (in our world, Africa.) She'll be accompanied by Lord Hilford's granddaughter Natalie (who does not have her father's permission), and Thomas Wilker, an associate from the Vystrana expedition. Her mother is outraged, Isabella herself feels guilty about leaving her son for so long as well as for apparently lacking the maternal instincts society expects her to have, and Natalie's father attempts to stop Natalie from joining her.

They barely make it onto their ship, and only with the helpful interference of Lord Hilford.

Eriga proves to be even more of a challenge than they expected. A local ruler in semi-alliance with Screeland claims the expedition as his guests, and commissions Isabella to bring him some dragon eggs. He wants to hatch them so that he can raise them from birth and have "guardian" dragons.

She'll have to obtain them in a jungle called the Green Hell, inhabited by a people called the Mullish. Their lifestyle is built around survival in the jungle, where settled life and even 19th century technology is more than the environment can support. Isabella, Tom,and Natalie learn a great deal--a new language, cultural anthropology, and their major interest, the flora and fauna of this part of Eriga.

Including the dragons. Among other things they learn that much of what they and other naturalists think they know about dragons--isn't right.

It's Isabella's willingness to do and learn pretty much anything to advance her research that is their crucial advantage.

This is an excellent follow-up to The Natural History of Dragons, with Isabella and her associates growing and changing as people, as well as learning as naturalists. For those who get the print edition rather than the audiobook, the art is an important addition to the experience, but I did thoroughly enjoy the audiobook.

I bought this book.