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Publisher's Summary

Marie Brennan begins a thrilling new fantasy series in A Natural History of Dragons, combining adventure with the inquisitive spirit of the Victorian Age. You, dear listener, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart - no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon's presence, even for the briefest of moments - even at the risk of one's life - is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten….All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world's preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day. Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

"Saturated with the joy and urgency of discovery and scientific curiosity." (Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on A Natural History of Dragons)

©2013 Bryn Neuenschwander (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Fantastical, Scientific, and Captivating Joy Ride

It's hard for me to describe how I feel about this book. It awakens in me all the feelings I had as a girl, dealing with being a child that didn't want to follow the norms of what a "lady" should be.

Add to that the fact that the main character had an obsession with dragons much like I had as a child, but got a chance to live in a world where they actually existed, left me entranced by its words.

I love the scientific and historical approach the author takes on the story, a young child, their mind still absorbing every word as truth might even mistake it as a real biography of their imagination were to let them do so.

It is not dry, however, like a textbook or historical accounting. It's depths are not only adventurously exciting, but intellectually stimulating. The voice actress for the audible version especially brought the characters to life in a way I don't feel I'd have even imagined him while reading.

This book made me feel young again, and reminded me that life doesn't happen all at once. It reminded me that being a woman with intellect and a sense of adventure is something to aspire too, no matter how much society wants it the other way.

I can't tell you the extent that I loved his book, and it's worlds. I have not pined for a sequel to something so strongly since I was a child.

If you're looking for something to awaken your imagination into other worlds that aren't that far out of the range of possibly and happen to like dragons, this book is for you.

97 of 98 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • William
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 05-30-14

Dragons like you've never seen them.

What did you like best about this story?

It felt so natural and real. In the midst of the dangers and trials you were reminded the heroine was a naturalist at heart and the scientific observation and inquiries did not disappear in favor of action at moments of crisis.

Which scene was your favorite?

The exploration of the ruins I would have to say. It was a moment of timelessness in a world of the fantastic. The heroine and reader both shared a glimpse into ancient eons.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Oh very much so. I sank right into the book hated having to stop and start repeatedly.

33 of 33 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful!

This is one of the best books I've read/listened to in a long time. I'm seriously considering buying a hard copy. Fans of dragons, science, natural history, strong female characters, adventure, travel... should like this. It also has a pretty good twist at the end that I was *not* expecting.

Isabella is a strong, passionate, person who desperately wants to please her family and be a proper lady, yet has a passion for dragons and science. Eventually she gets her wish to study them, heading off with her husband to research them in the grand tradition of Victorian expeditions for science (while the story is set in a fictional world, it's a pretty accurate representation of the scientific interests and culture of the 19th century, which I'm very interested in). The book is narrated by her older, outspoken, and delightfully crotchety self.

The reading was good; it was easy to distinguish between characters, and I was happy that the next book is narrated by the same person. Kate Reading is a wonderful Lady Camhurst.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bonnie
  • Bellmore, NY, United States
  • 04-17-14

Kate Reading makes this audio book devine

What did you love best about A Natural History of Dragons?

Victorian history with touches of bizarre chemistry and creatures of unfathomable grandness. It has a "Steam-Punk" feel but keeps you in that Victorian era. The main character is a young woman way ahead of her time. Luckily she's able to find some one to share it with. In a time when women were expected to stay and home and look pretty, our heroine wants to grow with knowledge

What other book might you compare A Natural History of Dragons to and why?

I don't think I've come across any book like this. It is the memoir of a woman who is now in her old age telling of how she started out as a child with interests in nature and and especially Dragons.

Which scene was your favorite?

There are so many I don't want to spoil the story, there are twists and turns that really make the story interesting.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Jacob tells Isabelle "Don't let them get away with this." I won't spoil it .

Any additional comments?

I've read reviews of people who read the kindle version, and the print version. I have to say Kate Reading makes this story come alive. She is marvelous with accents, voices both male and female, and showing emotions. I can't wait to read the next in the series.

29 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic Series!

As a fellow female life scientist and a lover of dragon novels, I was intrigued by this book from the sample. After listening to the first book in very short order, I was on to the next and the next til I finished all four books. I loved every moment of it, and wholeheartedly recommend the whole series.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful, both in story and in narration

This is a book that defies neat and orderly description. It is, in turn, an adventure, a fantasy, a steampunk mystery, a romance, and a most excellent scientific treatise. I enjoyed it from start to finish, and look forward to the continuation of the series.

The narration was spot on!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Diana
  • Antelope Valley, CA, United States
  • 02-09-18

Suppressed woman overcomes and travels

The tale is one in memoir form of a woman recalling her youth and then days as a young wife in a culture / world where women are suppressed. Dragons are on the periphery in this book. There is a bit of mystery, world building, and a lot of human interaction and cultural exploration.

Not fantastic writing, but still entertained. Might come back for the next book in the series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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NOT About Dragons

As some other reviewers have pointed out, this story is less about dragons as it is about the main character using it as a backdrop against which she goes on and on about herself. It started off with promise but by 1/3 in became thoroughly tiresome, and I felt myself drifting off or wishing she’d get on with it. The breaking point was the pointless death of one of the few likable characters and our “heroine’s” nonchalant response. She’s completely full of herself, comes off like a spoiled and petulant child. I hate when authors try to make women seem strong by portraying them so disregarding and selfish. Ugh.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Victorian Lady discovers her passion for dragons

Engrossing story told by Lady Trent, documenting her early life and fascination with dragons, culminating in a dangerous trip to distant lands to study them closely. Amazing narration, lovely story. I hope there are more volumes to come!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Too bad

I can’t and won’t finish this audio. The narrating voice is utterly irritating. I was looking forward to knowing how the story would develop. Now I’ll go for spoilers.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful