Random House Books for Young Readers
[July 10, 2012]
Finished copy provided for review
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.
I tried reading Seraphina when it first came out and it didn't work out so well for us. It's beautifully written, but the beginning is rather unclear and cloudy. At the time, I didn't have the patience for me. This time around, I pushed through because everyone said the beginning was slow.
So. Incredibly. Slow.
What was happening was important and there was a rather large cast of characters and a number of intricate pieces to introduce to the story. It all just happens over a rather long period of time and didn't become a page turner for me until nearly half way through - not exactly something to be thrilled about in a 450 page book.
But I didn't put it down either. Like I said, there was a lot of set up going on and it was enjoyable to read. Rachel Hartman is an incredibly skilled writer so it was technically lovely. And because she has a large cast of characters, there are a number of really interesting character relationship dynamics running even during this set up and they're rather complex and keep changing even before the action starts to pick up.
And you guys know I'm a sucker for character. Seraphina is a fascinating character with all her internal complexities and differences and needs. Not to mention how she changes. Even within a short amount of time, she develops in rather drastic leaps and bounds. Inside her head is where a good deal of the early action is.
There were still some elements missing for me and I don't think I can call Seraphina a favorite, mostly for what it's lacking in the beginning. But I was quite intrigued by the whole book and enjoyed it overall. I certainly hope to be checking out the sequel sooner rather than later.