Wednesday, October 17, 2012


by Rachel Hartman
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. (description from
It has been a little while since I have read a story about dragons that has left me in awe.  It's not that the dragon books out there aren't's that they all seem to have very similar lore these days.  Not so in Seraphina.  Though I have read books where dragons could take human form before, Hartman writes about this process and other dragon-y aspects in such a way that it felt utterly new and brilliantly done. 
I could picture the painful process of a giant dragon folding in on itself to take Saar (human) form. I could empathize completely with how they must feel trapped and utterly alien amongst humankind.  I understood their mathematical and scientific brains, revolted by human feeling and floundering as emotions they did not want flooded their systems. 
Hartman manages to convey excellently drawn perspectives of both humans and dragons as they beome embroiled in political strife.  Seraphina, who can see both perspectives, is the perfect narrator.  Her struggle to fit in, yet hide herself from scrutiny is fascinating. Her relationship with dragonkind draws readers in effortlessly.  Her struggle to fight off feelings for the one man she should never pursue...
A phenomenal fantasy debut, absolutely recommended to all fantasy readers, and well worthy of a shiny, shiny (dragon scale shiny, LOL) gold star:
Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library

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