November 6, 2012

Latest Read: Seraphina

Here are the basics ...
Book: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Site: http://rachelhartmanbooks.com/
Category: Young Adult - Fantasy

Summary: Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, tensions are high. Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
The good: The last time I read about dragons* was The Harper Hall series by Anne McCaffrey.  So it's been a really long time since I've gotten into this specific genre.  But even I can see that Rachel Hartman has done something special and unique with Seraphina.  Everything you think you know about dragons is pretty much out the window (except they still fly, breathe fire, you know the drill). The author gives dragons a human side, both literally and figuratively. In this world, dragons can change into human form as a way to blend in and become scholars or ambassadors.  For years, humans and dragons have struggled to co-exist and it is only through a peace treaty that they continue to do so.  But there is one thing they cannot do - they can't fall in love.  However that (obviously!) doesn't stop this book from exploring (all kinds of) love, honor, relationships, family and the beauty of art & music.  The detail and imagination that went into the world-building and even the characters is nothing short of breathtaking.

Seraphina Dombegh fits somewhere in the middle of all this and it's one of the many things that makes her character so interesting.  But it's her passion for music, intelligence, courage and the way she handles her fears that make her an awesome protagonist.  Even with the fantasy aspect, there's something about her struggles that's so universal. She just wants to know who she is, belong and find someone she can love.  And it's through her friendships with Princess Glisselda (who could've easily been portrayed as a ditzy, frivolous princess but was instead the opposite) and Prince Lucian Kiggs that she finds what she's looking for. I really enjoyed how the relationship between Seraphina and Kiggs unfolded.  I loved their banter and deep conversations.  It wasn't crazy swoon-worthy in an obvious way.  It was subtle, which made it refreshing to me.  There were also other touching moments with other characters, like her father and her teacher Orum, that I felt unexpectedly moved by.  The book just surprised me in a lot of ways. 

(Minor) issues: A lot of information is thrown at the reader.  The language, how dragons function in this world, even Seraphina's every day tasks.  It's a lot and I did feel overwhelmed by it.  It made the beginning of the book a little difficult for me because I was trying to remember every single detail. Then I decided to just go with it and focus on the characters.  I think if I were to reread it again now, I'd appreciate the book even more. 

Do I recommend?: Yes! This is definitely for the fantasy lovers.  I can see why it's gotten so much praise. It's a great book!  

Happy reading! 

* Excluding Daenerys' chapters from A Game of Thrones.

1 comment:

  1. I read this one while I was off work last week, and absolutely adored it. I'm so excited to find out what happens next!

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