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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina (edition 2012)

by Rachel Hartman

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1,9041823,597 (4.13)172
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

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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

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Seraphina is a delightfully fun young adult fantasy bildungsroman mixed with some politics, some romance, and a murder mystery that ties it all together. Centered upon an engaging teen protagonist struggling to deal with a dangerous personal secret, filled with a well-written, interesting, and often quirky cast of supporting characters, as well as an interesting and fairly original take on dragons, this story is an almost pitch perfect piece of young adult fantasy fiction.

In the world of Seraphina, dragons are real, and have waged long and bloody wars against humanity. Forty years before the events of the central story line in the book, the humans of Goredd and its neighboring kingdoms made peace with the dragons of the northern mountains, entering into a treaty that ended the conflict and has allowed both sides to heal. Many dragons have mastered the art of transforming themselves into human form so that they can live among and interact with humans. However, given the long history of enmity between the two races, many humans view dragons with suspicion or even outright hostility, a sentiment that many among dragonkind return.

The central character in Seraphina is, naturally enough, Seraphina, a talented musician who has, through a combination of hard work and family connections, secured a position as the assistant to the court composer to the royal family of Goredd. She also harbors a deadly secret: She is, in fact, a half-dragon, and when the book opens, as far as she knows, the only half-dragon. Given the prejudice against dragons harbored by many humans (most notably, the Son of St. Ogdo), Seraphina's heritage poses a threat her life should it become known, and thus she takes great pains to conceal the signs she inherited from her mother: A ring of scales around her left arm, and another around her torso.

[More forthcoming] ( )
  StormRaven | May 5, 2016 |
Enjoyable YA fantasy mixing dragons and humans. I could see some Spock in the dragon uncle, which really helped me relate to the non-emotional dragon point of view. Neat concept and fun read! ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Enjoyed it :) ( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
Seraphina has always loved music, and she has achieved her highest dream: to work in the palace as assistant to the music master. But she is lonely and expects to remain so all of her life, because she has a terrible secret. Seraphina, the dowdily dressed, retiring girl, is half-dragon.

Until a few decades ago, dragons and humans were locked in continual war. But one human queen and one dragon general negotiated a peace treaty in secret, and since then humans and dragons have kept largely to their own spaces, although dragons do sometimes shape-shift to take the form of humans so they can teach math to humans or research human music. The anniverary of the treaty is coming up, and all the old prejudices start roiling to the surface. Seraphine is caught in the middle, hiding from both sides while trying to subtly cajole and threaten them into behaving.

Unique characters, a wonderfully fresh and novel take on dragons, and a main character who felt wholly real. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
The pacing of this book is slow and I nearly gave up on it a few times, but persevered and was rewarded in the last third of the book. However, I enjoyed the premise which enabled humans and dragons to co-exist, with dragons being able to take on human form. I also really liked Serephina who was both dragon and human, torn between two worlds but accepted in neither since both see her as an abomination. "Serephina" had the potential to be a great book with dragons, adventure and romance all in together, but for me it fell short. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:48 -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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