Monday, August 20, 2012
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.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.
My Rating: ****
Loved it. I have been looking for a good dragon book for a long time. I have a few favorites, but nothing new has impressed me. Rachel Hartman nails it.
The atmosphere and the writing sucked me in, and the characters kept me hanging on until well after I'd finished the last page. I loved Rachel Hartman's fantasy world and she did a great job of fleshing it out and making it believable and beautiful. I was fascinated by the dragons in human form and I loved the way Hartman distinguished between the two species. She added tons of little details and was descriptive, but without bogging things down.
Seraphina herself? So cool. And don't assume you know everything about her, even if you have guesses from the summary. She had all sorts of surprising abilities and cool things going on (I especially loved her mind garden - kind of reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes' mind palace, but not). And being a musician, I really, really loved that part of her and the fact that she works as a musician. There are tons of great musical scenes. Lucian Kiggs is another fascinating character, and don't discount Princess Glisselda, his fiancee either. I liked her way more than I thought I would. All the characters turned out to have fabulous depth and tons of layers. I loved them all: Orma, Seraphina's dragon tutor - Viridius, the court composer and Seraphina's boss - Abdo (can't say who he is) - Lars (can't go into that either) - Dame Okra Carmine, the fabulously snarky - and more. This book is stuffed full of wonderful characters and scenes.
It's a wonderful story that sweeps along, full of surprises and perfect fantasy. The only reason I knocked some points off (I'm technically giving this 4 and a half)? My sheer personal preference about how the romance ended up. I didn't like it. I was NOT happy. Just my opinion. :D Can't wait for the sequel!
Recommended for fans of epic fantasy and dragons.