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.
While I read this book back in May 2015, it still resonates with me today. Seraphina deserves the William C. Morris debut award on every level. For a strong voice and heroine in this bildungsroman, a heavily captivating world at large, developed cultures, characters, and conflict between with humans and dragons, and the ityasaari: half-dragons. At a whopping 500 pages, it does take some getting used to the world-at-large; from understanding the creatures and politics, as well as the customs of each kingdom, there is almost a hundred page acclimation into Hartman’s vivid novel. It is very much worth the lag, I believe.
A little bit of backstory to help ease you in. Seraphina hides a dangerous secret in the Kingdom of Goredd–she is half-dragon. Even under the protection of peace between the humans and dragons in Goredd, dragonkind are unwelcome, and a hybrid is unheard of . . . in fact, it is unknown. Yet, Seraphina works close to royalty as an apprentice musician. (She plays flute, I play flute. A win in my book.) Murder arises in the royal family, and the dragons are to blame. Partnering up with Lucian Kiggs, the bastard prince and head of the Queen’s Guard, Seraphina must hide her secret all the while uncovering another. A secret that threatens the peace of her kingdom, and of those she cherishes.
As I had mentioned before there is a acclimation to the world of Seraphina, but do not let that deter you. Once over the hundred page hump the novel flies swift and just. The lengths Seraphina goes to undercover the peril that could destroy Goredd, her resolve towards saving the people she cares about all the while trying to understand who/what she is and who her late mother was, the relationships between her and Lucian Kiggs, her uncle Orma, the other ityasaari, it was riveting, well-executed, and even comical. There wasn’t a character that I didn’t absolutely adore. They truly made the novel a pleasurable read with every entrance and dispute. I don’t think that I could choose once favorite out of the bunch. Seraphina, Lars, Dame Okra, Abdo, Lucian Kiggs, Orma . . . they bloomed off the pages, and their backstories tore at my heart.
I regret having read Seraphina so late since its first publication in 2012, but it did allow me ample time to remember details and characters for the sequel’s publication. If you are a patient reader and do not mind a lag in the beginning of the novel, or even if you cannot stand to wait, I urge you to test your patience with Seraphina. I promise it is well worth the wait once the piece fall into place. If that deters you, please do it for the characters and the premise. Dame Okra and Lucian Kiggs are not once you wish to miss a chance at knowing.
Four targets for Seraphina playing flute, and Dame Okra’s enjoyable sass!