by Marie Brennan

Reviewer Rating:


Three years after the events of A Natural History of Dragons, Isabella is finally ready to embark on her next expedition, this time to the savannah and swamps of Bayembe. On arrival, she and her companions are immediately welcomed into the Oba's palace complex, and are eventually granted permission to enter the Green Hell, Beyembe's dangerous rainforested swamp, on the condition that they obtain a dragon egg for the oba to use in his country's defenses. While there, Isabella and her companions learn as much about the people who live in the swamp as they do about the dragons those people worship. They also, once again, become entangled in local politics to the extent that Isabella is accused of treason.

The Tropic of Serpents is the sequel to A Natural History of Dragons and is probably best read directly after it. The narrative of The Tropic is comparatively rushed, however, with many of the actions abbreviated to the book's overall detriment. I often got the sense adventurous mishaps were going on, but they were so frequently skipped over as to make me feel I wasn't a part of them the way I was in A Natural History. It felt rushed. It also felt very much like a bridge to the next book in the series, with plotlines around dragonbone preservation and the ancient Draconians gaining more narrative weight. For all that, Isabella's world and the experiences of her life are intriguing enough that I look forward to the next installment with the hope that it lives up to its first predecessor more than this one did.

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