In the Labyrinth of Drakes (Memoir by Lady Trent #4) by Marie Brennan
Last summer, while vacationing at my parents’ house, I read a big pile of library books (because there is NO WAY I am going without reading on vacation), including Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent Memoirs. I read the first three for CBR7 and have included the link here if you would like some basic background knowledge. I liked the first two well enough, but the third was dragony enough to excite me about her fourth book. And Ms. Brennan is extremely accommodating in that she didn’t make me wait too long to plunge into book 4, In the Labyrinth of Drakes. I’ll be interested to see where the rest of the series goes, but as far as Regency or Victorian-related fantasy goes, I’ll still take Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories series over this one, as far as re-reading and treasuring is concerned (seriously guys. Once you make it past Shades of Milk and Honey, the series gets so.much.better).
Isabella Camherst and her naturalist compatriot Tom Wilker are sent by the Scirling government to Akhia to see if they can kickstart a dragon breeding program that will allow the Scirlings to use dragon bones for war machines and transport devices. Reluctantly, Isabella and Tom concede that breeding would be better than harvesting dragons in the wild and causing extinction, so they decide to make use of the scientific opportunity to study the golden drakes in the Akhian desert. While they attempt to breed dragons and study their health and behavior, several sabotage efforts take place, not to mention the frustrations Isabella must face as a woman in a sexist environment.
Ultimately, while I enjoyed reading this book and found it light and entertaining, my ultimate criticism is the same as The Tropic of Serpents: not. enough. dragons. I think The Voyage of the Basilisk for me hit a lot more sweet spots, whereas in the Labyrinth of Drakes was much more focused on the story of Isabella and Suhail. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but when you are promised dragons, you kind of tend to expect them. I do like the character and narrative voice of Isabella very much, but again, dragons are a request for Book 5.