Saturday, March 07, 2015

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman + Giveaway

Book Description:

Hardcover, 499 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers

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.

Reviewer's Copy: Hardcover

Source: Random House Books for Young Readers(Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

I was blown away in epic proportions by the extremely detailed world building, formed by the foundations of the colorful history of Goredd, Samsam, Ninys and Tanamoot; the geography, philosophy, culture and languages. I was mostly impressed with the expansive history - from politics, to the military records, to the cast of Saints, and quotes from philosophers. Every additional detail made Seraphina more and more alive and believable.

Seraphina was unlike any other heroine I've encountered. She was flawed, hiding in fear, brilliant and incredibly talented. She felt that she didn't truly belong - being half human and half dragon, in a place and time wherein dragons and humans were still uncomfortable and even antagonistic towards each other. The tension could be cut with a pair of scissors. Having been given a draconic education, she could easily understand human-dragon affairs, whether it was political or social. She was also the assistant of the music composer, enabling her to do what she loved best - music.

Prince Lucian Kiggs was an extremely observant, perceptive, down to earth and kind. He has a golden heart that could be easily opened. I enjoyed reading about Kiggs, especially with the way he interacted with Phna. I found another outcast to love in him. He was a bastard prince, and though he has a position in the court, he has never truly been accepted by everyone. There would always be that distinction, that barrier between him and his happiness.

Orma was one of the minor characters that I liked best. Although he was emotionally "uninvolved," as an average saarantras would be, he had his human moments. He was slowly being "humanized" through the years of staying in Goredd, and because of his fatherly connection to Phina. Orma was my second favorite character. He was emotionally conflicted, torn between staying true to his dragon self and forcing all emotion and emotional memories out of his system, and succumbing to his weakness, embracing and riding out wave after wave of emotions that lap against his heart.

The plot was highly political and adventurous, woven with threads of social politics, struggle between races, religion and belief, music, simmering romance and knotted with twists and turns. I liked how the focus was on the struggle between dragons and humans alike, highlighting the pros and cons of being a member of each race. There was romance but it was not the typical all-consuming kind. It was slowly growing between the all the action, biding its time. I was lost in Seraphina's daily life - her struggles, her tasks, her passion and her loneliness. Dragons took human forms called saarantras, in order to blend in with the Goreddis. They were either "belled" or anonymous. Hartman brought to life a fresh take on dragons, that was both daring and intriguing. I got close to understanding them and their ways, rationalizing and thinking about the reasons behind their actions.

Seraphina is an epic adrenaline-pumped high fantasy that would keep readers thoroughly entertained and thoroughly lost in its story world. In these pages lies the most detailed and most well-developed story world I have ever encountered. Seraphina is unparalleled with its attention to detail, mythology and storytelling. I highly recommend this to high fantasy readers, readers who are looking for dragon-related literature and literature reminiscent of the middle ages.


5 Cupids= Eternal book love. 
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!

Giveaway Alert! Win a finished copy of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. For US + CA residents only, as per publisher's request.

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  1. I've been trying to read this book forever!!!

    1. Hello Deanna! I hope you get to read Seraphina soon. It's really amazing. :)