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 really believe there is a lack of fantasy in the YA genre. In the past year or so more and more books are coming out with the success of books like Shadow and Bone and Throne of Glass. However, I remember reading Tamora Pierce growing up and thinking that her books were what YA fantasy really was all about. I compare all YA fantasy to her books. So the question becomes does this book measure up in my mind?
The book starts off by showing us the world and allowing the reader to get a sense of our main character, Seraphina. I liked the beginning of this book but I also understood right away that this was going to be one of those fantasy books that you have to take your time with. There is a whole world of terms and languages to understand. Add to that the religion of the world and all of the Saints the author brings up time and time again and it is a book that is long winded and confusing at times to keep everything and everyone straight. So I will tell you to be prepared for a long beginning and the fact that this is a slower read because of the complex writing style.
If you can make it through the writing and slow start then this book really does have some great qualities to it. I really loved Seraphina because she was constantly growing in this story. She was able to learn more about her heritage and where she really came from. She was able to grow with each and every new piece of information she gained over the course of the book. In the beginning she was so afraid to stand out and I have to say I was impressed with her progress and the woman she was by the end of the book. I loved her thirst to understand and yet hide what she is from the world. I just wanted to stand up and cheer with her when she decided what she wanted out of her life.
Other than Seraphina herself I really did enjoy the last 150ish pages of this book because all of those little things from the beginning finally came together to form a beautiful story. I also really loved the ultimate change of characters and the message this book holds. It is deeply beautiful in the end and has a lot of meaning for the book and for real life.
Overall, I hope that the second book is now able to move with more action and more character development during the whole book instead of having another slow beginning. I have high hopes for book two!