In the first part of In the Labyrinth of Drakes, WHY MUST I FEEL THINGS.
“Even those who take no interest in the field of dragon naturalism have heard of Lady Trent’s expedition to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia.”
Lady Trent’s discoveries in Akhia are the stuff of romantic legend, catapulting her from scholarly obscurity to worldwide fame. The details of her personal life during that time are hardly less private, having provided fodder for gossips in several countries. But, as is so often the case in the career of this illustrious woman, the public story is far from complete. In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, the Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Scirling Royal Army; how foreign saboteurs imperiled both her work and her well-being; and how her determined pursuit of knowledge took her into the deepest reaches of the Labyrinth of Drakes, where the chance action of a dragon set the stage for her greatest achievement yet.
*Whispers* I am so hooked on this.
Let’s hit the plot highlights first.
Isabella and Tom are taking commissioned work now, which is fine because it still involves the study of dragons. It is perhaps less fine because it means they answer to the Scirling Royal Army, which means Isabella has to answer to a bunch of men with very firm and very old-fashioned ideas about the proper way for a woman to behave.
It isn’t long before she’s being belittled and smothered by their efforts to put her in a corner, and I am absolutely behind her in her disgust over it all. Isabella makes the tea for no man. So, right away, I’m feeling for her – though I can’t let this particular commentary pass without giving a sincere shout out to Tom Wilker for putting his foot down about his conditions for agreeing to take the Army gig, especially after their attempt to snub him over them blows up in their faces and they have to come crawling back: He’ll only take the job if they accept that Isabella comes with him. They’re partners, don’tchaknow. TOM I COULD KISS YOU. He is such a good friend. I adore the relationship between these two, and seeing it grow into this from what it was in the beginning has been a joy.
We also get some brief time with Natalie before the Akhian adventure begins. I miss Natalie! But it was nice to get caught up with her, even if it wasn’t for long. I love that she’s still pursuing her own career ambitions, even though it takes her away from Isabella as much as Isabella’s work calls her away. They’ve managed to remain good friends as well, and it’s good to see that Brennan hasn’t sidelined her altogether.
There is less to see of Jake before Isabella departs for Akhia, which saddened me a little. That said, as with Natalie we at least get an update on him: he’s still in love with the sea, and presumably will be set on returning to it as soon as possible, school or no school. You go, Jake.
Then there’s the attempt at dragon-breeding! I mean, we all know this probably isn’t going to go well. The book’s synopsis alone hints that this might cause problems of the attempted assassination variety for Isabella, and her retrospective narration backs it up. But … really, though, I’m pretty sure if anybody can get somewhere with this tangled old knot of a problem, it’s Isabella Camherst. People trying to kill her? That’s just an inconvenience!
And as for my investment in this particular plot strand – I mean, honestly. She named one of the less pretty dragons Lumpy. She can swear all she likes that Lumpy is not her pet, he’s just for science, but we know better, right? LUMPY. I want a pet Lumpy.
*Deep breath* And now, for the utterly addictive, swoony heart of this week’s matter: SUHAIL.
I had suspected, by the end of Basilisk, that there was more to know about Suhail’s background than he had let on to Isabella. I suspected that he was Somebody Important back home in Akhia, and I WAS RIGHT.
Not quite a crown prince or anything so dazzlingly fancy, but perhaps something more akin to a General, or a war chief of some sort? Either way, his home life is a big old surprise to Isabella, and no doubt his reappearance is a joy to her. It certainly was to me, and to my group-reading friends. Why yes, there was flailing, why do you ask?
Then there’s the downside: Isabella is a walking scandal by this point, and this plus the importance of being allowed to do her work, plus the cultural importance of discretion on her part, mean that their reunion is not what it could have been, and any conversation between them, however innocent, is a tricky thing to arrange. Luckily for them, Suhail’s sister is not quite as obedient as she seems, and is willing to play go-between, but this can only take them so far, and the very idea that anything might get in the way of what is (to me) obviously a wonderfully swoony romance waiting to happen is KILLING ME.
I have been shipping these two from day one and I swear, if I don’t get something – anything – out of it I might just cry. I already feel like my heart’s breaking for them and all they’ve done is talk!
Damn it, Brennan. Damn it, Suhail. DAMN IT.
Why are weekdays. I need it to be Sunday already! *Weeps into her keyboard*