A Natural History of Dragons is written by Marie Brennan and illustrated by Todd Lockwood, the book written as a memoir of the main character Isabella, Lady Trent. Lady Trent relates what lead her to begin studying dragons as a child, her courtship with the man who would become her partner in her lifelong endeavor, and her first scientific expedition to study the creatures that had fascinated her since her youth. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself caring about Isabella and her story within a few pages and Marie Brennan’s narrative is written in a way that describes individual setting and person so well you’ll find yourself standing right alongside of the characters.
As I was reading through the piece I found myself lingering on Lockwood’s illustrations, and occasionally flipping through the pages when I had a spare moment just to reexamine them once more. These illustrations are all captioned and according to the fiction they’re the original sketches of Lady Trent, who finds herself on an exciting scientific expedition related to dragons. Lockwood’s artwork is breathtaking, and yet it fits well with in the fiction. I found myself imagining Lady Trent perched atop a rock, her sketchpad resting on her lap, drawing out the outline of what she was seeing so she would be able to return to it and the fine details.
If you’re using dragons, or even if you intend to use them in the future, this book could definitely be of some use to you. Especially if you’re running a campaign which will place dragons in close proximity to a village, city, or any sort of established settlement. Reading about how the villages of Drustanev interact with the dragons after growing up around them is a fascinating. There’s also a great deal of insight into how a dragon’s body works, or might work, in a realistic setting. How do dragons manage to fly? How do they hunt? What is their behavior like in the wild? These are all questions which are answered in A Natural History of Dragons. Obviously I’m not going to give away anything her and spoil the book for you, just like Lady Trent you’ll have to do the work if you want to be rewarded with knowledge. I hope you’ll find as much enjoyment in reading this book as Lady Trent did in studying dragons.