I listened to more than thirty hours of “The Memoirs of Lady Trent,” and damn if I didn’t love every minute. Firstly, of course, Kate Reading is an astounding reader. Secondly, Isabella Camhurst is a fantastic character.
Alternate, fantastical histories of the 18th and 19th century have come into fashion recently (see “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), and I couldn’t be happier. I’m a history nerd and a fantasy nerd, so the two come together and I get to read the results.
Throughout history, there have been women who fought the sexism of their times to become Great. These women became queens, pirates, popes, scholars. Sometimes they pretended to be men, sometimes they forced the world to accept them as women.
Starting out listening to the Lady Trent books, I assumed that they would take place in a version of England with dragons. The main character is determined to become a dragon naturalist, in spite of society.
Isabella Camhurst is from England, but it’s not called England. It’s called Skirland, and while the majority of people are indeed white and act in a very English way…they’re also Jewish. There is no Christianity in this world: just Judaism and Islam. There is no England, just a place like England. And Isabella travels across the world, to places “like” Russia, West Africa, China, Indonesia, and many more.
This is awesome. Brennan is able to put together the best of both worlds; she can have her dragons and draw on myths and legends of dragons, and also pull in as much as she wants from world history while also making up whatever societies and characters she desires. The result is a mish-mash world that breathes and lives through the eyes of Isabella Camhurst. Now go read/listen.