Book Review: The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan


Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of tvotb-coverher historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal.

Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons. 



Kyaaaaaaaaa! I loved this book! The Voyage of the Basilisk took this series from good to great for me. After listening to this one (Kate Reading’s narration of this series is fantastic) I binge listened to the rest of the series in under a week. Funny because I was on vacation and supposed to be taking it easy with reading but these books just took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Whoops!

This book was such great fun. The amount of adventure in this one gets multiplied a bit because it’s a sea voyage, and they always have their unique obstacles. Like, storms, lack of winds, or giant sea serpents that you might have to keep from breaking your ship while in the middle of the ocean.

For the first time we have Isabella’s son Jake along for the ride. Being around nine or ten at the start of the trip he’s old enough to not need constant minding but young enough to still get into all kinds of antics. I really loved his character in this one and seeing the relationship between him and his mother, it added a new dynamic to the story as Isabella juggles both her work and her family together.

We’re also introduced to a rather dashing archeologist named Suhail. (Ah, Suhail….*swoon*.) Isabella first encounters him when they’re ashore and being that he’s a bit of a linguist and having a similar course of study–he’s looking into the ancient Draconian civilization–he joins their party. I love the friendship that develops between Isabella and Suhail. They’re both extremely passionate about their work and because some of it overlaps they have a shared interest that they bond over. There’s also, undeniably, a bit of attraction there.

Other characters are great as well. We have Isabella’s partner Tom along on the trip again and by now they’ve developed a wonderful working relationship and have also become friends. Most of the time they’re focused on work, but it’s great to also see the times when that barrier comes down between them and they talk about more personal things as well. The captain of the ship, and some of the crew that we get to know, are also great fun.

The plot is basically the same – expedition to study dragons – but it’s on a much larger scale (no pun intended) because it’s a sea voyage around the world. They encounter all sorts of troubles and at one point become marooned for a while on some islands that feel very much like the South Pacific. Once again Isabella and crew get to experience and learn about a wide variety of cultures, some of which have interesting consequences for our heroine.

For me, this was certainly the turning point in the series for me, the book that made me fall in love with Lady Trent and all of her adventures. Check out this series if you like science, adventure, historical fantasy, or seafaring. 5/5 stars.


8 thoughts on “Book Review: The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

  1. Tammy says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t started this series yet, aren’t there five or so books now? One of these days…I just love the covers!

  2. Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

    I’m a little hesitant about picking this series up because I thought it’d read like a nonfiction/biology textbook with some fantasy added to it. But the characters sound great and expedition stories are kind of my jam, so I will give it a try one day. 😀

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Honestly the first one felt really dry to me, but the second book was a lot better imo. The last three books I loved wholeheartedly and marathon read them in about a week. 🙂

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