In the first part of Within the Sanctuary of Wings, I may not be ready to say goodbye to Lady Trent, but I am so ready for one last big hurrah, dragon naturalist style!
How have we reached the final book in this series? Honestly, it does not feel like four months have gone by since I started! I am actually going to be a little bit sad when this one’s finished and I have to move on – but I will always have rereads, and I take some comfort in that.
But that’s getting ahead of myself, because we have in fact only just begun this final book. So let’s talk about the set-up!
Isabella is back home, happily married and comfortably titled anew, and both she and Suhail are enjoying the academic life. Suhail even has a position as a university lecturer! Indiana Jones, eat your heart out.
My heart, it is full. EVERYTHING IS ALL RIGHT IN THEIR WORLD.
But of course the adventures aren’t over, because along comes a Yelangese man(!) to ask our Lady Trent for some very important help. Thu Phim-lat thinks he’s found an entirely new breed of dragon living on or near the highest, deadliest mountain in the world (naturally) and wants the help of the world’s foremost adventurous dragon naturalist to find out if his theory is correct.
Mind you, there’s the small matter of Thu having very scant evidence of his discovery to offer her, here. Then there’s the fact that he is a political exile and in very serious danger of being imprisoned – or worse – if he’s discovered back in his home country. Not to mention the fact that Isabella herself isn’t exactly going to be welcomed there with open arms, given her own history with the Yelangese. There’s risk at every turn, for potentially little to no real reward if she agrees to go on this expedition.
But it’s for the dragons, and that’s ultimately what pushes Isabella’s curious buttons. We knew it would, right? Yeah, we knew. The lady can’t help herself, and it’s why I love her. Well, one of the reasons why.
Once again, we might know for a fact that Isabella survives, but that is where the comfortable knowledge ends. Beyond this, absolutely anything might happen, and for all that I don’t want this story to end, I am dying to know how it does! Bring me that (mountainous) horizon, if you will.
And my favourite part of this opener? The fact that Isabella barely even blinks before persuading Thu Phim-lat to join them, her true reasoning – all of the logical stuff aside – being that if there is something to be found on that mountain, then he deserves to be with them when – or if – they find it. It’s only fair, after all. It’s the right thing for her to say, and he accepts, and they’re going on an adventure and my fannish heart is full of joy and excitement and other sparkly feelings.
Will they get through Yelang safely? Will they manage to climb the mountain without losing anyone? And will they find what they hope to find? Can Thu actually be trusted or will the prickly politics ‘complicate’ things?
Obviously, I want all of the answers to those questions to be “yes”. But they may not be. I’m trying to be ready for that possible outcome, I really am. BUT IT IS SO DIFFICULT. That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the fate of Jacob Camherst, of course, or that I’m turning a blind eye to the risk. I just want them to live! I want them to have honour and glory and NEW DRAGONS and the wonder of discovery to close this memoir with, because I feel like that’s how it should be. Isabella is a wonderful woman and a fantastic character/narrator, and I am thoroughly in love with her life and times and how she’s parlayed them into her memoirs.
My fingers are crossed for a big finish, but only time will tell…