Book Review: Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan


After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think wtsof-coverthey were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent–dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.

And yet–after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia–the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure–scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland’s enemies–and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.



I totally fell in love with this series and now I’m sad that it’s over. What a journey it’s been! I’ve traveled all over the world with Isabella and her friends and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of their adventures. It did take me a little while to warm up to the series, but I’m so glad I continued with it after that first book left me a little cold because it just got so much better with every book.

This fifth and final volume of Lady Trent’s adventures takes us to the mountains. A harsh and inhospitable land that’s difficult to traverse. Throughout the series there has been an over-arching thread about the ancient Draconian civilization and here we finally learn the truth about them. This discovery is exciting for Isabella as a scientist, but also as a person she realizes she has a responsibility to preserve things. One of the best things about the series is getting to experience all the different cultures that Isabella has to navigate and learning about their ins and outs. And here we have that again, but in a more surprising way than ever.

I appreciated the way this story progressed as well and thought the pacing was great. There are a few parts where the tension is quite high and one part in particular that was such a great pay-off. I could read that part over and over again.

We spend much of the book with Isabella and some new characters. At one point she is separated from most of her companions and it takes a great toll on her, but like a true scientist, she carries on with her learning. We really get to appreciate her strength of character, which if it wasn’t clear before is abundant in this book. It’s a difficult thing to balance, showing a character’s strength at the same time as showcasing their vulnerability, and Brennan does a great job with it here in Isabella. In fact, all of the characters are written with a deft hand. Because of the nature of these stories, in the way they are told as memoirs, that could put a distance between them and the reader, but I didn’t feel that barrier at all.

This was a very satisfying conclusion to a well-loved series and while I’m sad to say good-bye, at least I know I can always pick up one of the books and return to this world whenever I want. 4/5 stars.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum says:

    Yeah I was sad when this series ended too, but looking back at all that Isabella had accomplished also gave me such a satisfied feeling. I was so excited when I found out about the new spin-off with her granddaughter!

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