Title: Voyage of the Basilisk
Author: Marie Brennan
Series: Memoir of Lady Trent #3
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Overview: Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal. Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons. -Goodreads
I’m happy to say that Voyage of the Basilisk was a combination of everything I’ve been hoping to see since the beginning of the series. The foremost of which being the heavy focus on dragons (and not all the other crap she included in the first book… although a lot of that is now becoming relevant, so I’m kind of eating my words). I especially appreciated the infusion of fantasy, naturalism, and archaeology into this adventure.
I feel like I’m living vicariously through the main character, and am loving the chance to explore new territories, study dragons, and come up with new theories on how they impact the world. If I could have any fantasy job, dragon naturalism would be near the top of the list. Part of the reason this was my favorite installment to date is because it let me appreciate the breadth of Brennan’s dragon creation. I think she did an excellent job of incorporating a wide variety of species while keeping in mind what’s biologically feasible for each territory. VotB also hinted at a cool mystery involving ancient dragons (which just might be the overall arc of the story), which shows a depth of world building I also hadn’t truly appreciated. All the things have me super excited to pick up the next book.
I still have a slight hold-up about the main character – I like so many things about her, but she still has a tendency to make hair-brained decisions. Even though Brennan did an excellent job addressing it in this volume, it still required a bit of that eye-rolling acceptance near the end. At least the character is consistent, I guess. The best advice I can give is: just go with it.
Overall, there are moments in this series I’ll love forever, and those memorable moments seem to happen more and more with each book. If you are as obsessed with dragons as I am (and are patient enough to wait for the payoff), this is an excellent series for you. I highly recommend the audio – Kate Reading is the queen of narration.
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I really love this series. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the next book, should you continue! And I agree, Kate Reading is such a great narrator, and she’s perfect as Isabella. Such class!
I saw your update on majoring in… What was it? Biology and anthropology? Something similar anyway haha. In any case, even though my major was business, I always wanted to study either English or biology/zoology, but chose the practical route instead. Anyway, I truly feel like I got to live vicariously through these books, and that’s part of why I love them too. I am certain I will enjoy the next book is much as this one… Hopefully. :-)
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I SO want to read this series, I love the Victorian aspect mixed in with dragons. And that description- “feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization.” Yes please.
Oh and I would totally be a dragon naturalist, how cool would THAT be?
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Yes – it’s totally a brilliant mixture of everything you described! So good. And it makes you feel like the main character is just as dragon-crazy as we are – I found the science aspect to be very gratifying. :)