Completion Date: June 29, 2012
Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy.
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.I had heard some positive buzz about this book prior to its release, so when I was offered the chance to read it I knew it was a must. I have been slack with my fantasy reading the last few years and am always determined that I will remedy that. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to sneak a fantasy novel in with everything else I have been reading lately. And, I am so happy that I did. This book is easily one of my top reads of the year. If you haven't read it yet, you should!
I have always enjoyed books about dragons. I was told that the dragons in this book were a very creative idea and that people were enjoying her imagination. This intrigued me right from the start. And, I have to agree. Hartman approached what could be a bit of a tired subject with a totally different eye and created a very original world. I was impressed. I love the dragons and all the background information that she provides along the way. It seems very believable and brought the whole species to life. I cannot wait to see what is store for them in book two.
One of the things I most loved about this book is the use of 'girl power'. There are, of course, male characters but the spotlight is often on the girls. Seraphina is the main character and is often at the forefront of the action. Sometimes authors try too hard to make strong female characters and it comes across as being forced. Seraphina has had an interesting up-bringing that makes it easy to see how she became the girl she is in the novel. I never had a hard time believing her story. And, like the dragons, I cannot wait to see what becomes of her in book two. She is a very special girl and has a very interesting future ahead of her. Plus, she brings an element of music to the novel that is always fun.
The novel centres around court politics. Seraphina has decided to audition to be the assistant to the music director (maestro?) for the royal family. Her father is not happy with this decision, but Seraphina is talented and cannot remain locked up in her family forever. Her mother died when she was born and she has never been entirely accepted by her step-mother and half-siblings. She has always been a bit different. Her music teacher is a dragon after all. It is unusual for someone to have such a close relationship with a dragon, but it works well for her. She has the patience, most of the time, to understand him. It opens up many different elements to the novel and adds to the action that builds as the story progresses. The anniversary of the treaty between dragons and humans is near and this means revisiting the distrust that existed between them for generations. There were wars and humans are a bit divided on how they feel about dragons even now.
Ultimately, I think I have said enough because anything else would be a spoiler. I just think you should read the book for yourself and become a big fan like me.
My thanks to Random House Canada for my copy of the book.