Posted by Sari
Category 40, A book with mythical animals: Aliette de Bodard: In the Vanishers' Palace; Marie Brennan: The Natural History of Dragons
The mythical animals in these books are dragons: Aliette's has an eastern inspired dragon: sentient, magical and able to take human form. In Brennan's novel the dragons are beasts studied by naturalists.
In the Vanishers' Palace tells of Yên, sold to the dragon Vu Côn in exchange of the dragon's healing power. Instead of death and torture, she is given the task to teach Vu Côn's children. They all live in the Vanishers' Palace, an abode left behind by vanished alien people who have left the world - and the palace - shattered full of viruses and other dangers.
This is a post-colonial re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast - with a library scene, even - but between a human woman and a female shape-shifting dragon. It is beautifully written, the world-building is superb, and the characters engaging. I loved the story, the way the story used Viet culture and especially the way it engaged with colonialism and the damage it has done to the colonized societies.
I bought Marie Brennan's The Natural History of Dragons some time a go from SF bokhandeln on one of our periodic trips to Stockholm, but it had languished unread on the shelves for some time. As the series was nominated for a Hugo this year, I decided it was a high time I read it. And I am very gland I did. It was a charming alternate history set in a 19th-century Europe but with tweaks in the culture. And dragons.
Isabella, Lady Trent is the foremost naturalist on dragons, and the novel is her memoirs of her youth and first encounters with dragons in a vaguely eastern-european country of Vystrana with her husband Jacob. I loved the period details, I loved the dragons, and for once the first person narrative did not bother me at all, Isabella was a narrator I felt comfortable with. It is a great thing to contemplate that I have many more books in the series to read. Joy.
Orthodox is the higher quality of the Assam-teas from India. It is harvested usually by hand, and uses only the smaller, delicate leaves from the tips of the bushes. It is a lovely black tea without any hint of bitternes. Water brought just to a boiling point, and steep for 1-2 minutes, and you get a flavourful cup of indian tea.