A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

John read the first few pages and told me that he thought I would like it because it was like Francis Hamerstrom but with dragons.  He wasn’t wrong exactly… except that not even fiction can do Francis Hamerstrom justice. (In the event that (unlike me) you did not have the good fortune grow up with her as a household name, reading books like Is She Coming Too and Strictly for the Chickens and then eventually got to work with her grumpy, old, great-horned owl, I recommend you find yourself a book of hers and become acquainted!)

But, to John’s point, the main character is a woman set out to study wildlife in an era when women don’t do such things, and she does have some unorthodox ways of solving problems. So it is a bit reminiscent, it’s just that instead of prairie chickens, the wildlife she chooses to study is dragons. This puts dragons in a light that most books don’t. Not as evil treasure hording monsters (think Smaug) or amazing magical beings (think Saphira) but as fascinating and poorly understood, bits of wildlife. Alibeit one that sometimes eats people and has breath with interesting properties, as well as being a severe nuisance to the shepherds.

Would I recommend it? Would I recommend a book with a female character pushing the boundaries, dragons, a mystery and a bit of natural science? In a heartbeat!

 

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