In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan

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In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan is the fourth book in Brennan's The Memoirs of Lady Trent series, and it is, in my opinion, the best one that I've read so far. Much as life gets better as you get older and get to know both yourself and the world around you a little better (and you give less of a fuck about what anyone else thinks of you), the Lady Trent books only improve as Isabella grows and becomes more sure of herself and less willing to put up with a world that consistently devalues her work and opinions because of her gender.

The majority of this book's action takes place in the deserts of Akhia, a place that resembles the real world's middle east. In earlier books Isabella might have shrunk when faced with a culture that discounts women to such a rigorous degree, but after her long voyage on the Basilisk and her time spent as a dragon-spirited person she is unwilling to do anything more than keep to the letter of the law. When time and time again she is excluded from invitations to meet with her and her partner's contact in Akhia, she shows up anyway, and when their contact shows a distinct disinclination to let her even speak to his brother and her old friend Suhail, she finds a way to meet with him anyway that only works because she is a woman and can meet with other women more easily than a man could. She also admits to and does her part to fight her own internalised misogyny when it comes to female doctors. Even better, when she realizes that it's what she wants, she asks Suhail to marry her instead of waiting for him to ask her.

Also, just, Isabella and Suhail together are adorable. I'm a sucker for an academic romance, what can I say?

On top of Isabella's growth, and the perfection of Isabella and Suhail finally being together, the story of this book is well-paced, and the writing is incredibly readable, as I've come to expect from Brennan. The series plot even steps up nicely as the Scirland (the country that Isabella is originally from) steps closer to war because of discoveries regarding dragonbone and its production.

I'd highly recommend this book if you liked the previous books, and if you haven't read them yet--well, why haven't you?

5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.