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Jun. 12th, 2017 @ 11:39 pm Natural History of Dragons #3
In several ways I enjoyed the second (African swamp dragons) and third (Sea Serpents, Chinese dragons of many sorts, and Polynesian firewyrms) more than the first. The main character is more proactive. We start to see more of the outline of her life. I found it a bit easier to cope with the alternate-history geography too, either because I was more used to it, or because it was further away from places I'm familiar with.

I like the bits of her son Jake we get. There's so few fantasy novels with children and adults together.

And I'm more familiar with the alternate world. Several things are different: the series is set later than I'd realised (1890s?) but steam power is severely curtailed by the lack of iron, taking the place of various resource-scrambles Europe imposed on the world in our history.

And I still can't believe I missed everyone is Jewish, temple judiasm or "magisterium" judaism, but with the varied devotion victorian scholars had for Christianity.

As I'm re-reading, I see more things alluded to in the early volumes, about her eventual discoveries, and the misadventures she gets into, and her later remarriage, that make me excited to know which of the things I've read tie into those and which are still to come.

Every book seems to wend its way until the plot starts about 3/4 of the way through, but the third one I was really wrapped up in all the things that happened until that point, the difficulties of navigating a ship, negotiating chinese bureaucracy to get to see dragons, befriending islanders, surviving storms, performing experiments.

I'm still a bit put off by the alternate-history names for countries. Couldn't we just use the same names even if the shapes are different? It seems like more places are islands? And it feels weird I can't just look it all up online and see what corresponds to what, but here no-one seems to have done the work. I should compile a list of what I managed to work out for my own reference.

Minor spoilers

Minor spoilers for book #3. If you've read the later books, feel free to post general comments like, "yes, this topic is important", or "no, it doesn't really come up". But please don't hint around specifics like "ah, yes, you might think that, *wink*". And please don't edge up to the boundary of giving things away, stay well clear unless you're fairly sure it's worth mentioning.

So, everything seems more archipelago-y. Did the sea level rise? She mentions that in book #3, in enough detail it seems plausible. And I didn't realise until I was writing this, but there are explicitly under-water ruins. I didn't really consider why, but that does really strongly suggest it (assume she considered the geology enough to be sure).

If it did, would the maps match up to our geography? I'm not good enough with maps to have any idea.

In this book, we explicitly explore the observation that seem to be a lot of dragon-ish creatures, some birdlike, with dragon features. Some insect-like with dragon features. Turtle-like. Snake-like. The trouble with a "natural history of dragons" is that dragons make no sense scientifically unless there's some organising principle absent in our world. I assumed that would never be addressed, but now I wonder -- is there some technobabble genetics (or magic, or technobabble convergent evolution) that will specify how that happens?

For that matter... the draconians are always pictured with dragon heads. If there is some dragon/x hybrid thing going on, could they ACTUALLY be half-human half-dragon? (See also Zhangrit Mat!)

Future husband. Suhail? Seems like the obvious candidate, what with the "they like each other" and "ooh, I have romantic feelings again" aspects. But could be someone completely new. Or maybe she and Tom will fall in love after all, although I think not.

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