Six years after Tropic of Serpents, Isabella Camherst leaves on a two-year expedition, traveling around the world to study dragons wherever she could find them. Again we get to travel with the wonderfully sensible Tom, but additionally we add an entirely new cast of interesting characters including a governess, a trouble-seeking captain, a new tribal community, Isabella’s son Jake, and her wife. Yes I said that, but you’ll have to read it to find out more.
The most important new character however has to be the attractive young archaeologist Sunhail. We finally have added a potential love interest into the mix. And while we can be excited for Isabella, finally considering moving on from Jacob, the best part about Sunhail’s arrival is what he studies: Draconean. Finally we get to learn more about this ancient civilization that has been resting on the periphery. Brennan has been teasing us with this side epic for far too long and while this book doesn’t give us all the answers, we do get to learn a few more juicy details.
The obvious nod to Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle doesn’t mislead us either. The lady scientist is on the verge of discovering about the evolution of dragons, a shout out to Darwin’s time in the Galapagos. And this voyage is equally exotic. Isabella’s trip on the Basilisk brings us to even more cultures including one of oriental origins, another island tribe, and more. We get to meet chieftains and princesses, sea captains and smugglers, not to mention more dragon species then we have gotten to meet in the other two books combined. All the while war is on the horizon and somehow Isabella finds herself accidentally in the middle of it all yet again.
In true Isabella fashion, she tries to find the balance between ignoring propriety and fighting against what society has trained her for all her life.
“I find that respectability grows wearisome after a time, when one is accustomed to being a disgrace.”
By now Isabella has accepted that she is an outcast. She shamelessly wears trousers and recognizes her lust for the strange archaeologist. Although, she remains blind to whispers that occur back on Scirland. At home she is considered, frankly, a weirdo. But, that just makes her the Isabella we know and love.
Brennan is a strategic author. She traverses this complex world with ease and uses it to show us the depth of her characters. We’ve watched Isabella grow up before our eyes into a woman that I would love to be. Now we get to watch her son Jake grow, watch their relationship develop, see Isabella through her son’s eyes. The complexity of the world Brennan has created and her characters mirror one another. Few authors could show this much subtle skill, which includes a deep social commentary. Brennan tackles the idea of gender identity utilizing on of her societies in a way that is creative and purposeful. She is both an excellent writer and socially aware.
While book two was a little slow, this one is the opposite. This story moves at a fast pace and the new characters and new societies help keep us interested and propel the story forward. I would suggest however, that you avoid reading the first few chapters of book four that were provided until you have it in your hands. Now that I know where book four is going, I NEED to have it.
I give this book a 5/5. A perfect score.
Main Character: 5/5
Side Characters: 5/5 (or more if possible)
World Development: 5/5
Procrastination and Giggles,
The Red Queen
P.S. Jake rides with Dragon turtles. What more could you want as a 9 year old?