Still trying to catch up on my reviews which have been delayed thanks to writing a whole bunch of schemes of learning for work and a delightfully full-on three year old daughter, I realised I’d missed this one.
The third installment of the Lady Trent memoirs – set in a fictional but faintly vwiled and recognisable worl, albeit one with dragons, actually did much of what makes review of the (in my opinion less satisfactory) Tropic of Serpents. The poor, abandoned son was brought back into the narrative and given a trip around the world; politics and soldiering, whilst present, were significantly less prominent; and there were dragons. Well sea-dragons, or sea serpents. And I’ve always been a sucker for stories at sea. It’s no Moby Dick, to be sure, but it’s a sea yarn and that’s cool.
Brennan throws us quickly onto the voyage around the world on the eponymous ship, The Basilisk with only a brief prologue.
On board the ship, the local politics and cultural descriptions, which often bog down the narrative, are no longer needed and we get more dragons as well as the usual complication expected in a maritime novel: storms and excursions and shipwrecks and exotic strangers. Here, the stranger, Suhail, is well established and fleshed out. And in many ways he reflects Lady Trent: academic, eccentrlic, an outsider. His interest is, rather than dragons, the ruins of the lost and ancient Draconian civilisation.
With the shipwreck and forced stay on the island of Keonga whilst the ship is repaired, Marie Brennan gets a chance to explore another culture again. Think perhaps Hawaii? With dragons. One intriguing quirk in Brennan’s description of Keonga is that Lady Trent is classed as ke’anaka’i – neither male nor female but dragonborn, which means that she acquired a wife to be accepted on the island.
Kidnapped princesses, well one of them anyway, a foreign army, caeligers and sky ships and hidden lost treasures intervene and brings the book to a conclusion.
There’s no real sense of danger, even though Brennan showed her willingness to kill off significant characters in the first book, but it’s a cracking and fun novel with a great pace and likeable characters.
I’m glad I was wrong in my assumption that this was a trilogy. The next book is The Labyrinth of Drakes which is already on my to-be-read list.