Book Reviews

Book Review- Voyage of the Basilisk by Maria Brennan


I purchased a copy of this book for my own enjoyment, and with no expectation of a review.


Voyage of the Basilisk is Brennan’s third Lady Trent book. This story follows Isabella and Tom Wilker as they set forth on a sea voyage in search of dragons. The whole thing still reminds me of Darwin and his sea expedition on the Beagle.


The Basilisk makes a few stops, most notably in Yelang and Coyhuac, picking up Suhail, an Akhian archaeologist studying the ancient Draconean civilisation. In Coyhuac, the expedition is lucky enough to see a rare plumed serpent; in Yelang, they swim with dragon turtles, and observe river dragons. Whilst at sea, the expedition studies sea serpents, with a goal of proving tropical and arctic sea serpents are the same species.


The bulk of the story takes place on the island of Keonga, after the Basilisk becomes grounded and needs repairs. The crew are granted hospitality, with restrictions. They may not visit any of the other islands. Necessary supplies are brought to them. Isabella’s unconventional behaviour lends itself to the usual problems for the group,and she has some hard choices to make.


While in Keonga, Isabella gets the chance to study fire-drakes, and tropical sea serpents. With the latter, Isabella learns to ride sea serpents, and witnesses firsthand the damage they can do. Among the Keongan islands Isabella and her team face deadly peril, and make great discoveries.


First- the fun stuff. As always, I love the cover. The artwork is absolute beautiful! I love the sketches scattered throughout the book. There’s underwater archaeology(!!), dragons(!), and a healthy dose of cultural anthropology. Some of my favourite things. I absolutely love getting to know all the unique cultures. Ms. Brennan has done a masterful job of crafting out her world in words. I believe writers/authors open the door to new realms, and share the keys to those realms through their books, that the reader may journey there also. This is one world I am looking forward to visiting again!


Not so fun stuff- there were several places where the chapter headers got left in the text of the chapters themselves. I’m guessing this was when the author was planning scene names. Once I figured out what it was, I was able to gloss over it in my mind’s eye. The writing isn’t as sharp as the previous novel, and I felt the ending was rather abrupt. It was just kinda there, like POW, right in your face, then runs off laughing. I would have liked more closure.


As with the previous books, if you like things anthropological, or things dealing with naturalism, if historical fantasy tickles your palate, if adventurous accounts akin to The Lost City of Z arrest your attention, then look no further! Marie Brennan’s Voyage of the Baslisk can slake that thirst. Come, walk in a world where dragons dwell, and learn the secrets of the natural world.

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