Books · REVIEWS

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina“I cannot perch among those who think that I am broken.”

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.

Personal Thoughts:

Seraphina is one of those books that I am so excited to read but at the same time afraid that it won’t reach my expectations. If not for the second book that recently released I won’t finally pick-up Rachel Hartman’s debut novel. It took me a long while but I’m not exactly sorry for not reading the book sooner.

“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.”

Though there are few surprises and expectations hit, Seraphina is not the best book about dragons that I have read. It’s certainly has the potential but it’s not as enjoyable or as action packed as I expected. Since this is not the first book about dragons or dragon that can transformed or disguised themselves as human I have lots of comparison while reading which basically means more expectations.

Story-wise, I like the intricacy of the plot, the avatar-like world, and the conflict between humans and dragons. They are well-realized and well plotted that I am willing to read every little details that Rachel Hartman is throwing. Add the fact that Rachel’s writing style is rich and beautiful. Her elaborate prose and metaphors are gorgeous and insightful. They are elegant if not savorful that I find myself rereading some of the lines along the way. The way she detailed Seraphina’s world and the overall conflict of the story is just amazing.

“Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.”

So why exactly I am not sorry for not reading the book sooner? Well, one reason is the main character Seraphina. I got a hard time connecting to her. Given the fact that she is a half dragon – half human, I know readers like me should not be concern on how I can relate to her, but if I can’t even care about her that is not a good thing. Then there’s also the dragging part of the novel. As much as I like reading Rachels’ metaphors and wording, I can’t deny the fact that a huge part of the novel is slow, especially the first part. It’s like this first book is a huge build-up. For a fantasy read, I think Seraphina needs more actions and battle scenes or at least a better pacing.

I’m still reading the second book, Shadow Scale with the hopes that there’s more action than telling. I’ll post a review for the second book as soon as I’m done reading.

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3 thoughts on “Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

  1. I agree with you – I am so conflicted about this book because the writing is so rich, but at the same time there is distance between the reader and Seraphina that is hard to breach. I’m going to re-read it again sometime to see if my opinion changes. It reminded me a bit of Kristin Cashore’s writing, but Graceling has more action.

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    1. I haven’t read Kristin Cashore’s book but I have a copy of the whole Graceling Realm series. That’s one of those series that I am excited to read but dreaded to start because of so much expectations, just like this one. But since you mentioned it has more action, I am now more positive that I will like it better.

      I hope the reread of Seraphina turns out to be more enjoyable than your first try. I would love to know your experience and maybe someday I’ll do a reread too.

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      1. I definitely prefer Cashore’s work. Seraphina is sitting on my shelf and I’ll probably return to it in the spring. I meant to read it before the sequel but then it came in at my library sooner than I expected.

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