Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
The kingdom of Goredd is populated by humans and by dragons who fold themselves into a human form. Though they live alongside each other, the peace between them is uneasy. But when a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon the peace and treaty between both worlds is seriously threatened… Into this comes Seraphina, a gifted musician who joins the royal court as the assistant to the court composer. She is soon drawn into the murder investigation and, as she uncovers hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace in Goredd for good, finds herself caught desperately in the middle of the tension. For Seraphina hides a secret - the secret behind her musical gift - and if she is found out, her life is in serious danger…
As you can see from the dragon on the cover and make up from the synopsis above, dragons play an important role in Seraphina. Now Seraphina is intended for the Young-Adult audience and for me the first series that springs to my mind is Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Also the fact that many dragons used in fantasy have been portrayed in similar fashion, big gigantic towering beasts, they throw flames and are shown in often violent scenes, it is I think something that cannot be avoided. But I was wrong... Yes, I must say that I had some reservations and that Seraphina would just be another dragon story, however it is not. Seraphina stands out above the rest in providing an unique way of using the dragon aspect in books.
Seraphina starts of with an interesting introduction and that of the main protagonist Seraphina being born herself, I did recall that from someplace else. This introduction really helped in putting the flavour of the book just right, especially looking back after finishing the book on the start, it fully makes sense. Just by this introduction you already know that there will be much more to Seraphina as the story progresses and I was dying to find out what her character had in store for me. Well, I was very pleased with how Rachel Hartman used Seraphina to tell the story. It actually begins pretty normally and you assume Seraphina to be just normal however soon you come to the conclusion, with a cool twist in it that Seraphina is much more that just a human. More or less by what she is she is drawn into a spiralling investigation of courtly intrigue. Seraphina is shown just spot on as she is caught in between both worlds, that of the dragons and the humans and how she struggles to do just the right thing and not letting anyone down. From start to finish, Seraphina slowly finds out more and more about her past and it is amazing to see her growth from chapter to chapter. Just Seraphina’s character is a definite plus in this book! So much depth, so much flavour and a lot more.
I mentioned briefly that the way dragons are shown in Seraphina is quite different than in many other books. Just a short recap. In the past the humans and the dragons have been at war, but they managed to make a treaty between themselves to stop the war. Now with the renewal of the treaty things could turn out quite differently than expected. The dragons shown in Seraphina are clever, calculating creatures, and here comes the cool part... They are able to transform into humans! They assume the form of saarantrai, which allows them to fully communicate with humans. But even in their human forms the saarantrai do stand out of the crowd and are easily spotted. The saarantrai are a completely developed “race” in Seraphina, they have a language in which they can communicate to the humans called “Mootya” and are ruled in a hierarchal way, they even have a Council that has everything in tight control. The dragons in Seraphina are really shown in a way that I have not encountered before and found this very interesting. Something added to this is the way the humans and the dragons view each other. In some aspects they are quite the opposite, the dragons block out any emotion. The human are terrified of the dragons and would rather walk the extra mile in avoiding them. This goes as far as a hatred between the two races bordering on discrimination, and this all even though there is a treaty between the two. I just found the interaction between the humans and the dragons neatly put together, especially looking back on Seraphina who is caught in the middle!
So there is the main protagonist and the uniqueness of the dragons that make this story great. There is just one other thing that I want to briefly mention here and that is the world. Well this is something a bit caught in the middle. It is marvellous to visit the world of Seraphina with all the music and singing going on really allows you to get the glimpse of a somewhat medieval, sophisticated world in full colours. However going towards the highlights of creating and showing the world and all that is possible, it does take away some of the speed of the story and on some occasions there is just a bit too long adrift on certain subjects. When you were left on an interesting lead in the investigation of the murder of the prince of Goredd there came an intermission. Though it does show a richness present in the story, it did take away some of the speed of it.
Seraphina is a truly enchanting and magical story. Just the main protagonist, Seraphina, alone is shown as a great heroine in the story she has depth, smartly intelligent, brave and funny at times. Her character in combination with the past between the humans and the dragons AND the way the dragons are shown make Seraphina an enjoyable read. Take the time to immerse yourself in the musical and colourful filled world of Seraphina!
This Seraphina book review was written by Jasper de Joode
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Seraphina reader reviews
Anonymous from WA
Hmmm... This book was nice, and very mysterious. It had a nice plot and an amazing story! I am very pleased with this book. It was very absorbing as well as very fantasy-like. I like it!
8.2/10 from 2 reviews
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