About the Book
Author: Rachel Hartman
Publication Date: July 10th, 2012
Blurb: In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, 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, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
Seraphina is a huge book, but all 512 pages of it are worth it. When I read this book, I was swept into an epic fantasy adventure with an immersive world, surprising plot twists, and beautiful underlying themes. While the beginning was a bit slow, once I got into the book, I couldn’t let go.
One of the best aspects of this book was the complex world that Rachel Hartman crafted. The dragons in this book are so unique and complex. Not only can they change into a human form to become saarantrai, but they are also extremely intelligent. These dragons have a very complicated relationship with the humans and there is much tension between the two races, which leads to added conflict. However, the world doesn’t end there. There are so many other creatures, among them the quigutl and their complex figurines. And then there is Seraphina.
Seraphina hides a secret that if revealed could place her life in great danger. I won’t reveal the secret here, but it is huge, and unusual. She also has a whole world that lives inside her head. She can control the creatures and people in her world through her thoughts, and she can see their every move. When things get wonky and she starts meeting these creatures and people in real life, Seraphina discovers even more about her secret, and realizes that maybe she isn’t the only one that harbors that secret.
Speaking of secrets, that’s what this whole novel was about. Everyone has some secrets that they hold close in real life, and that is exactly what happens in this book. When a noble figure, Prince Rufus, is murdered, and dragons are suspected, Seraphina must try to find out who killed Prince Rufus. Yet when everyone is hiding secrets, the job quickly becomes very complex. I was drawn into this world of great intrigue, and the suspense and plot twists had me flipping pages like crazy. And that one plot twist at the end. I’m still reeling from it. Rachel Hartman drew me into the story, throwing so many red herrings in that when the real truth emerged, I was completely shocked.
Just like the plot in this book shines, so does the prose itself. The writing styles used in this book is very sophisticated and beautiful. It leans a little bit toward a classical style even though the story is told in first person. While at times this writing style seemed to distance me from the main character, Seraphina, for the most part it was a nice flourish to the story. My only other complaint were the many fantasy names. They could get a bit confusing at times, but I suppose that is only natural of high fantasy.
Overall, Seraphina was a brilliant story full of complex character interactions, a complex storyworld and stunning plot twists. I highly recommend it.
Have you ever read Seraphina before? What did you think of it? Have you read any books with amazingly detailed storyworlds?