Book Review: THE VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK by Marie Brennan

Title in black next to a blue sea serpent
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: yes - third book

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS and THE TROPIC OF SERPENTS*

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK: title in black above a sea serpent and other

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. 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

In THE VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK, instead of spending a lot of time in one or two places, we instead follow Isabella to many different places, and she has perilous adventures aboard the ship too. (This book has only made me more certain that I don’t like boats!) Plus we have a greater exploration into the classifications of dragons and what exactly construes one.

This series must have been meticulously planned in advance because of the references in the earlier books to later adventures that are finally being explained and the hints laid before that are coming true. It must have taken so much work to get it all worked out beforehand in order to make it feel as seamless and cohesive.

I absolutely loved seeing these hints playing off, seeing things that seemed like background details of the world starting to grow or with reveals that promise big implications later on. There are many points that made me go “ooo, oh, OH”, but the biggest was the sequence on the forbidden island. Just SO MANY FACTS BUT ALSO INTRIGUING POSSIBILITIES FOR LATER BOOKS.

We also get a lovely look at a mother-son perspective from a mother who is one more because of society than any natural inclination. It is loving, but it also shows the tension between career and motherhood, expectation and personal desire.

The religion of Isabella’s home continent appears to be based on Judaism. No fuss or attention is brought to bear on this non-Christian based religion – though many western fantasies’ primary religion are based on Christianity. Rather it’s simply a fact woven into the world, natural to the main characters so simply accept it even if they’re not the most devout or full of personal belief.

There will be a brief pause in my read of this series – I read this book faster than my buddy reader – so I’m going to dive into another book in the interim. However, I shall be back to it soon!


Read my reviews of other books by Marie Brennan:

The Memoirs of Lady Trent (this series):

With Alyc Helms (as M. A. Carrick)

Rook and Rose:

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