Genre: historical fantasy
Length: 331 pages
Setting: three years after the events of A Natural History of Dragons, mostly in Bayembe (which feels like an African country)
Summary: Isabella is planning a new trip to study dragons. This time to the warmer climate of Bayembe. She’ll be traveling with Mr. Wilkes and Natalie again, although Natalie’s parents try to prevent her going. While in Bayembe, Isabella wants to focus only on dragons, but of course politics manage to sneak in. They start out studying the grass-dwelling savannah snakes. However, the oba gives them permission to go into the Green Hell of the Mouleen delta, if they’ll bring him swamp-wyrm eggs. Living in Mouleen is difficult and it takes a long time living with the Moulish before they can begin to study dragons. Isabella is given the opportunity to touch dragons. She just needs to get on and off an island in the middle of the Great Cataract of Mouleen. She succeeds, using a glider made of preserved dragonbone. She also prevents the Scirlian city from being overrun by Ikwumde and sets up an agreement between the Yembe and Moulish that prevents a dam from being built that would negatively impact the dragons in Mouleen.
Final thoughts: This book have me more of what I enjoyed in the first book. It feels like Victorian England and Isabella is pushing strongly against female norms. Being a widower, she can get away with more than Natalie can as a single woman. The reader is also exposed to the initial stages of several fields of natural science. I can put myself in Isabella or Natalie’s place and kind of wish I had the chance to go out and collect specimens in exotic settings. There’s definitely strong science and feminist themes running throughout the book, and Brennan even sneaks the idea of treating native cultures respectfully.
The annoyance I found in the book was all the place names were wrong. The setting felt so much like Victorian England, but the place and time names were made up for this world. Why change them at all? It would throw me out of the story every time a month or location were mentioned and I’d have to try to translate it to a real time or place.
Title comes from: The setting was more tropical than the first book in the series, and the first dragon seen was a sea serpent.
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #44 for the year, and #14 in my Finish the Series Challenge
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