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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina (edition 2012)

by Rachel Hartman

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1,4561555,141 (4.19)125
Authors:Rachel Hartman
Info:Random House Books for Young Readers (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 480 pages
Tags:dragons, fantasy, high fantasy, strong female, romance, politics, prejudice, racism, murder, conspiracy, peace, treaties, other, saints, half breeds, secrets, courage, music, mystery, gr7, gr8, gr9, gr10, gr11, gr12, series

Work details

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

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Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
Very nice debut book, good prose and meticulous world-building, with many original choices and a skillful rendering of music as protagonist element. Most of the side characters are intriguingly detailed and while this book doesn't end with a cliffhanger, it definitely opens up new adventures and development. What perplexed me in this otherwise very pleasant reading it's that very interesting and clever plot devices, not to mention the complex world-building, the religious view, the music (the hints in lyrics, for one!), the clash of cultures/heritage/memories in Seraphina's mind (the greenery!), the dragon-society background, the philosophic debates, the parent-child relation, the choice of a first-person narrative with this very protagonist, a lots of careful details and why not, the main story itself, are combined in a -reasonably- clumsy manner with some little plot-holes, rushed explanations, far-fetched situations and a rather dull romance story with no edge whatsoever. I'm under the impression that the premises were solid enough for an epic adult fantasy, but somehow along the way this turned into a half-hearted attempt at YA, sporting classic cliches (no, really, a prince?), easy way-outs and some incongruous situations and behaviors. So, this is a hybrid book in a way... it was and yet it wasn't a conventional read, all the world-building raised my expectations almost instantly and I really hope the author will write a powerful, inspired sequel because with a little filing and polishing there's definitely the potential for more along the lines of both YA and adult genres.
Also, the main characters around the protagonist (I still have to see if I like Seraphina or not, if she can finish the leap from the swallowing-in self-pity teenager stereotype to the full-fledged heroine character one can empathize with) are not really fleshed out, we get very little insight as to their behavior and most of it is somewhat forced (particularly, the princess' motives and oblivious manners are puzzling, but also most of the royals' gut feelings...too convenient) as if simply subservient to the plot and to Seraphina's development: it may be partly an effect of the first-person point of view, or of the lack of inspiration while giving them voice apart to be defining for Seraphina, or both, anyway I really hope they'll get more engaging in the next installment. ( )
  Alissa- | Nov 26, 2014 |
At the upper end of the YA range and quite an enjoyable fantasy. I liked Seraphina and her world and found the dragons to be unusual. Dragons, music, adventure, and a touch of romance all tied up in a very good package. I'll be looking for the sequel.
  hailelib | Nov 20, 2014 |
This fantasy novel for young adults gets off to a rocky start, but soon makes up for the awkward beginning with its intriguing world and captivating characters. Seraphina is set in the fictional kingdom of Goredd, where humans and dragons live under an unsteady treaty. The title character, an illegal half-dragon, struggles to fit in, but she is the only one who can take action when a conspiracy threatens the dragons’ leader. The book ends with war on the horizon and a newly united cast of characters ready to face it. The story’s progression feels unnaturally quick in the beginning, as if Hartman was unsure how to handle the exposition, but evens out to a quick pace that still allows for suspense. The world that Hartman creates, with its religions, races, and languages, is difficult to get used to, but feels real by the end. It takes some time to accept the characters, flat at first but eventually compelling and lifelike. Several themes are woven throughout, including race, gender, loyalty, and family. The characters encounter realistic moral struggles - forbidden love included - that should ring true for readers. There are few twists, but the story does not feel predictable or stale. Seraphina is an ambitious attempt to reimagine the myth of dragons, and while the beginning poorly introduces the reader to its world, this quickly becomes a book that teens and adults will enjoy. Recommended. Grades 8-12+. ( )
  kottenbrookk | Oct 22, 2014 |
In the world of Goredd, dragons are outcasts. They are discriminated against, and are shunned by Goredd’s human society. Intermarriage with all humans is expressly forbidden by law, and punishable by death.

Read the rest of my review at: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/seraphina-rachel-hartman/ ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
Seraphina is perfect. Rachel Hartman's beautiful writing is simply astonishing with her multi-layered world-building, an expertly articulated plot, sympathetic characters who possess distinguishing personalities and the ability to grow and develop, and three-dimensional antagonists with meaningful agendas and a sharp sense of purpose.

I enjoyed the differences in cultural complexities between nations and species, and I laughed at a certain dragon's terror and wonder at experiencing human emotion for the first time. But in observing this I also found it heartwarming. It showed another side to his otherwise antagonistic character, acting as a vehicle for growth and completely changing my perception of him. I also felt the same way when an important dragon in Seraphina's life finally reveals all to her -that was a bittersweet moment, if ever there was one.

As for my criticisms, there was a distinct lack of a map. (I thought they were mandatory for all fantasy novels). Its absence was noticeable as it impeded my sense of the lay of the land and the locations of the nations located therein. I was also perturbed at encountering the 'Cast of Characters' and glossary at the end of the book instead of the beginning. Not very useful there, now is it?

There is a love triangle, albeit an unusual and tolerable one. We have a man engaged, facing an arranged marriage to his cousin with whom he'd been brought up, and is now falling for Seraphina. That's not your usual young adult love triangle set-up. In fact, every negative, clichéd and contrived trope you've come to associate with young adult novels happily do not exist within these pages. Hurrah! SO PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not dismiss this book on the love triangle alone, you may be pleasantly surprised. Had I known beforehand that this device had been used I would've avoided reading this great work, and I would've been all the poorer for doing so. I can only think of maybe one or two other authors who can create worlds as richly detailed and nuanced as Hartman (and in only one book too!) and I feel that anyone even slightly interested in Seraphina should take a chance and read it.

However, although my emotions were aroused quite strongly and all of my senses were titillated throughout, and there were harmonious moments when I wanted to point to a particular section and say, "Yes. This," I cannot definitively say, "I'm in love with this book." I love it, but I'm not in love with it, though it pains me to make that distinction, and is the reason for my 4.5 star rating. I feel I'm somehow defective in my reaction, but I have hope I will have more love for the sequel.

I would recommend this to those in their late teens and beyond, for those younger may find the language a challenge and may require a dictionary of some form at their side.

*Fans of [a:Nalini Singh|71688|Nalini Singh|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1288454777p2/71688.jpg]'s [b:Psy-Changeling|7179268|Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1)|Nalini Singh|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1300484058s/7179268.jpg|172416] series may recognise many similarities regarding species interaction/interbreeding, the differing approaches to emotion, emotion as a sign of disease/madness, and rehabilitation involving the excising of emotions and memories. ( )
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rachel Hartmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davidson, AndrewCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kolesova, JulianaIllustrator (Title Page)secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palisi, HeatherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In memoriam: Michael McMechan. Dragon, teacher, friend.
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I remember being born.
I usually practiced smiling while I slathered my scales with goo, figuring that if I could smile through that, I could smile through anything. Today I really didn't have the time.
We were all monsters and bastards. And we were all beautiful.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375866566, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Teen Book of the Month, July 2012: In Seraphina, dragons and humans maintain an uneasy peace and for a woman who is both there is nowhere to turn for acceptance--not even within herself. Seraphina has spent her young life concealing the truth of her parentage and authentic nature, a task that proves ever more difficult when she is thrust into the spotlight of the royal court. Author Rachel Hartman’s dragons take human form but shun the messiness of human emotion by remaining “in ard” (a highly rational state of mind), while their counterparts cling to a dangerous assumption of species superiority. As the anniversary of the treaty between the two sides approaches, court intrigue reaches a fever pitch and hard-won truths, betrayals, and intricacies of the heart are laid bare. Seraphina is a beautifully complex fantasy that delves into the most basic of desires—to be loved, to belong, and to find peace in self-acceptance. --Seira Wilson

Guest Review by Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce is a best-selling author of fantasy books for teenagers. Her books, known for their teenaged girl warriors and wizards, have received critical acclaim and a strong fanbase. Her newest book, Mastiff, is the third book in The Legend of Beka Cooper series.

In Seraphina's world, coldly intellectual dragons can take on the shapes--and feelings--of human beings. Sometimes this results in a surprise. Seraphina's father married a beautiful musician, and discovered too late that she was a dragon. She died, leaving him with a daughter who confuses him and his new wife and children.

Now the half-dragon Seraphina is the assistant to the cranky royal music master. She is in charge of Princess Glisselda's music lessons; she books performers for the 40-year celebration of the peace treaty between dragons and humans, and she rehearses the rowdy court musicians. She has to hide the scales on her arm and around her waist, and she can never let anyone find out that Orma, her music teacher, is actually a dragon.

When she plays the solo for the funeral of the realm's murdered prince, Seraphina is suddenly raised into entirely new, visible levels of peril. People she always avoided are noticing her. She has to attend social functions, where she is caught up in court politics, between those who support the treaty and those who want to destroy it. She runs afoul of conspirators who want to start the war again--one of them may be her own grandfather. She even discovers that Prince Lucian, who is betrothed to Princess Glisselda, is not only very sharp-eyed but also very agreeable to be around. He appreciates her insights on intrigue at court and in the city and uses her as an unofficial investigator into the ongoing unrest.

The plot thickens. A new religious order plots riots and revolution. Exiled knights return to report an unregulated dragon flying near where the old prince was murdered. The dragons are trying to send Orma for corrective surgery--they think he's gotten too human and they want to cut those parts out of his brain. Seraphina fears that if she tells the prince and the princess what she is, they'll hate her forever, but their work to preserve the treaty celebrations is bringing them closer together. And all of them are terrified that the dragons will decide that humans are not worth the trouble, and will destroy them at last.

I loved this book even more the second time I read it than I did the first. The characters are interesting and engaging, and I love the new look at dragons. For all that she's half-dragon, Seraphina is a very believable human being, caught between different loyalties and just trying to keep everyone she loves alive. But don't take my word for it--read it yourself!

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:33 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In a world where dragons and humans coexist in an uneasy truce and dragons can assume human form, Seraphina, whose mother died giving birth to her, grapples with her own identity amid magical secrets and royal scandals, while she struggles to accept and develop her extraordinary musical talents.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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