Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Review: Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

#3 in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series
ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
352 pages
4 out of 5 stars, Special Shelf series

There are NO spoilers in this review, but if you're worried, check out my review of the first book A Natural History of Dragons instead!

The series in general (no spoilers)

Ah, there's something so satisfying about a consistent series. I always know what to expect with the Lady Trent books, and thankfully, Voyage of the Basilisk stuck with the same tried and true formula.

Fans of the first two books can rest assured that this third installment is more of the same, and I mean that in a good way. Isabella embarks on another journey to another excitingly untamed part of the world to continue her study of dragons. The first half follows a series of mini adventures and the second half focuses on a local group of people, exposing Isabella to another novel culture.

That may sound formulaic, especially since that same pattern is followed in each book. It is the uniqueness of the adventures that keep this series from feeling stale. Even more enamoring, for me, is the sense of exploration. I'm so fired up following Isabella as she makes new discoveries in her quest to understand dragons.

I thrive on that indescribably invigorating feeling of forming theories, testing them out, finding their flaws, delighting when they're proved right, and, almost even more exciting, turning over the new questions that arise and chasing their answers.

These books wouldn't be half as good if Isabella wasn't narrating them. Her voice is so perfect (though she is certainly not) and I have found a true kindred spirit in her character. I like how she stays true to herself, embracing her passions and quirks, even if they do not conform to the accepted or the norm. She has learned that she can choose to either be happy in life, or unhappy, and she has chosen to be happy.

This voyage in particular

As you've probably gathered, this book sees Isabella on the high seas and the first half of the book takes place almost entirely on board the ship. Even though I like a lot of books that take place on ships, I don't actually like being on fictional ships very much. It's claustrophobic and I hate the feeling of being trapped on a relatively fragile ship with nothing around but a vast ocean holding all manner of dangerous sea creatures. Plus, the food. Barf.

So, I've knocked off a star for that completely personal reason.

Fans of Tom and Natalie will be disappointed because they are not very notable in this book. Natalie especially, since she doesn't even accompany Isabella on her journey. Instead, a new character comes to the forefront and I can't say I'm upset about this new development (though I DO miss Tom. I really liked his growing relationship with Isabella in Tropic of Serpents and I was hoping to spend more time on that in this book). But, this new character is a diverting consolation prize.

Other things I liked (without giving things away): The supremely excellent scene of Isabella and the Great Nostril Grab (and the even greater description of the fictional artistic portrayals of said event), Isabella's on going relationship and her exploration of her feelings with the Jacobs, adding in an archeological exploration (that surprisingly ties back in with the prior books), treasure (!), the wife (what a fun way to address those rumors), and the incorrect theory (because we've all kicked ourselves at some point, and Isabella described all the emotions perfectly).  

Bottom line

Upon finishing the book I had two thoughts:
  1. Gosh, I read that quickly!
  2. When is the next book coming out?
I wish I had savored this book more because now it's finished and I have to wait at least a year (I'm guessing, gah, Goodreads doesn't even have the next book up!) and I really just want to keep reading in this world and with these characters. I didn't mean to read it so fast. I just, I just couldn't stop reading!

So, when is the next book coming out??

Looking for another book like this? You might like:

Click on the covers to go to my review/Goodreads


  1. It sounds like a lot of fun!! I love reading your reviews of this series and the books look so gorgeous!

    1. I adore these books and they are fun on so many levels. The covers are fantastic and absolutely perfect for the books. Even better though? All the books are illustrated!

  2. Your review has tipped me over the edge; I'm moving this series up on my TBR.


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