The Tropic of Serpents: A Memoir by Lady Trent (A Natural History of Dragons)
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The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's The Tropic of Serpents . . .
Attentive readers of Lady Trent's earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world's premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.
Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.
The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.
limitations—or through strenuous exercise and privation, you will have to handle this necessity in many circumstances that are far from ideal. Including some, I fear, where the smell of fresh blood is a positive danger.) Returning to the moment at hand: the serving girl’s eyes widened at the sight of the stains, and she darted out of the room almost before I had finished speaking. So rapidly, in fact, that she left the laundry behind. I sighed, wondering if the fault was with my imperfect
face, the last thing he had anticipated was for me to shout right back at him. (I think he expected me to break down crying—which only goes to show how little he understood this entire situation.) What he thought of the rest of my words I cannot say, but one part at least had clearly penetrated his mind, for he said, “Yes, well, everything of course depends on whether the girl recovers.” “Indeed,” I said, mimicking the biting manner in which he had begun our meeting. “And if you should breathe
applied ourselves assiduously to being good members of the camp—a task made easier by the absence of dragons, at least that we saw. Moulish came and went, some of them drawn from other camps after word reached them of our presence; others moved to visit kin, or to get away from neighbours who vexed them. It meant constantly learning new names and, as our command of the language improved, explaining ourselves again and again; I began to feel we would never truly settle in, but be trapped forever
it was easier to go left instead. I skimmed along the falls, back toward the center and the waterfall island, though too low now to make a landing where I had begun. Landing there was not my aim regardless. I had lost sight of the tree where I was supposed to meet Yeyuama, but was more concerned with finding a safe place to alight. My original intent had been to plunge myself into the lake, in preference to crashing into a tree; now that I had seen the queen dragons, such plans seemed less wise.
stay to see the results, though I heard them as I fled. I dodged around the tree, and knew I had chosen right when the watchman’s spear thunked into the wood; then I was off, through the forest, running desperately (but not at all quietly) for the closest thing I had been able to approximate for a safe escape route. A nearby waterway. I dove in without a single thought for leeches, snakes, fangfish, swamp-wyrms, or anything else. I exhaled a portion of my air, so as better to sink down, and