July 5th 2012
Random House Children's Books
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. (From Goodreads)
I know I say this all the time, and it's basically cliche number one, but this book completely took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting much from it at all, especially because I got it at a time when I thought I didn't like high fantasy, and I started it and I still wasn't all that excited about it. But having finished it now, I can say this book is amazingly good. It's kind of a slow burner (or at least it was for me), but I found myself slowly getting more and more into it, and by the last 100 pages I couldn't put it down.
As I said, it took me a while to get into it. I think that's possibly because the proof was literally huge (like, Cassie Clare ppb sized) and that kind of scared me off. I think I have some kind of fear of big books, like I automatically assume I'm going to be bored by them. I need to get out of that mind set... But any way! Yeah, it did take me about 100 pages to realise that I was actually enjoying this book. Which sounds strange, but I'd only been reading about 20 pages at a time because I just thought that it'd be a bit of a struggle. Around the time that I hit the 150 page mark, though, I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I didn't even realise I'd become that invested by the story.
I really adored Seraphina, she just worked for me on so many levels. I don't usually connect as well with fantasy heroines, but I just felt really in tune with Seraphina, I guess? Despite the language and the setting, she just felt really normal. She was just stuck between two worlds, and in this case it was a little more severe than the normal. ie, with more dragons. I also think that she was just a really brave, admirable person, and even though she'd had to lie a lot in order to get along in normal society, she was still a very honest person. She didn't like lying to anyone, and unless she really had to lie to protect herself, she would be as honest as she could. I also just really liked her voice. I don't know... I think I just resonated more with her as a character than I usually do.
There were also a lot of interesting relationships in this book, and I loved the fact that (in my eyes, anyway) the main relationship of the story wasn't a romantic one, but the one between Seraphina and Orma. They had such an interesting relationship, and it was nice to see how Orma reacted to it, what with him being a dragon (in human form, mind), and it made me really sad at the end, because as much as I knew what was going to happen, it was still uspetting because they were so close and they didn't want to leave each and it's just so sad! I hope they'll see each other again.
I thought that the whole dynamic between Seraphina, Kiggs and Glisselda, too, because although Kiggs and Glisselda are engaged, you can tell that Phina and Kiggs are going to have some sort of romatic altercation, too, and Kiggs is just so nice, and Glisselda is so lovely to Phina, too, and doesn't even judge when she finds out about Phina being what she is. And the thing that I loved most of all is that regardless, they were all friends, and none of them were bitchy to each other and it was just awesome. Why are there not more friendships like Glisselda's and Phina's in books, huh? And another thought, why are there not more guys like Kiggs?! He's so concerned with being honest all the time, and he's such an open friendly person and so much more interesting and pleasant to read about than all those broody fellows who look miserable all the time and compare their girlfriends to drugs.
The dragons were also a really fascinating part of this book, as I haven't really read many books with dragons in them. Nope, not even Eragon. I really loved how they were portrayed here, though, as being these emotionall, scholarly types who aren't really concerned with feeling things, but have a desperate need to learn, and for pedantic specifics about everything. I much preferred this to having them be some kind of feral beasts, and the whole stuff about the treaty was interesting too. I loved seeing how such a recently imposed law had affected this world, and the humans feelings about dragons being among them, as well as how the dragons felt being among humans. It was just really good, and led the world to feeling so much more well developed.
The writing was really beautiful, too, and the book actually felt kind of alive, I guess? I don't know, it just felt like the writing was brimming with personality and it felt really lively, and I don't get that feeling often with books. It did literally feel like it was coming off the page (allow me the cliche, just this once). It was just kind of magical. (*cringes at self. Also, let's count how many times I say kind of in this review. My guess, too many...)
Seraphina completely took me by surprise and blew me away. I wasn't expecting anything nearly thing good when I started reading, and I'm so glad that I decided to pick it up. It is one decision I will not regret.