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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina (edition 2012)

by Rachel Hartman

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1,6341684,433 (4.17)163
Authors:Rachel Hartman
Info:Random House Books for Young Readers (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 480 pages
Collections:Teen, Read but unowned
Tags:identity, teen fiction, fantasy, politics, 2012, MockPrintz2013, self-actualization, dragons, logic, emotion, strong women, smart women, music, court, secrets, love, prejudice

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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

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  1. 31
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The human kingdom of Goredd has entered into a peace treaty with the dragons, some of which live in human form among the normal humans. But the peace is threatened when Crown Prince Rufus is found decapitated – a way of murder that usually suggests dragons at work. Seraphina, court musician with a secret, finds herself in the middle of this political tension and much more deeply involved than she would like – and not only because she risks revealing her own secrets.

Seraphina reminded me a little bit of Graceling, which is a good, if not to say excellent thing. It’s a fast, engaging read with an interesting world and even more interesting dragons and I enjoyed it immensly.

Read more on my blog: http://kalafudra.com/2015/08/19/seraphina-rachel-hartman/ ( )
  kalafudra | Aug 24, 2015 |
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman has dragons, an awesome new fantasy world, a strong message about the stupidity of discrimination, and a great narrator. Why didn’t I listen or read Seraphina sooner you ask? I don’t know D: I’m so glad I’ve fixed this problem, however, since Seraphina really surprised me with the direction it went, but I’m really excited to eagerly await Shadow Scale with you all now :D. I also no longer have to be embarrassed that I hadn’t read THE dragon YA of 2012, haha. ( )
  anyaejo | Aug 12, 2015 |
Encased within the covers of a book lies a whole new world of its author's making. A universe that--no matter what the setting: Earth, even your own hometown--is always different from our own in one way or another. Oh, the uniqueness and beauty of make believe.

In Seraphina's case, we're caught up in an unfamiliar country--full of dragons and other eccentricities; tensions and conflict; love and heartbreak. And very real characters with very real struggles, all woven together by Seraphina's hauntingly beautiful voice and Rachel Hartman's vivid descriptions.

I read this book in the period of approximately one day. In one day, I experienced the goings on in the kingdom of Goredd. I went through the struggles our beloved Phina endured nearly her whole life.

I feel like I cheated.

Even so, I enjoyed every second of this beautiful, imaginative fantasy. Shadow Scale, its sequel, seems too far away. (It's to be published only 8 days from now, but still).

Let me start by saying how much I loved the voice. The author's voice, Seraphina's voice. They could both be described by a word I'm going to use far too often in this review--beautiful.

Here the story begins:

I remember being born.

In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart's staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe.

I was immediately drawn in; weren't you? But of course the lyrical style of writing wasn't all that captured me. Part of it had to do with the dragons.

Sir James waved a gnarled hand. "They're nothing but feral file clerks, dragons. They used to alphabetize the coins in their hoards.”

Even before my reading this book, if someone had asked if I liked books with dragons I would have responded, "Pfft. YES." After all, WHO DOESN'T LIKE DRAGONS?

But now that I think on it, I can't recall many books that I've read that centered around the creatures. Let's see...I remember Dragon Slippers. Oh, and does Harry Potter count? No? Well, that may be it then. Maybe that's why I put off reading Seraphina for so long. It was unfamiliar territory, so to speak. Plus, it looked like a pretty hefty read at 451 pages. Obviously, those turned about to be some pretty unfounded fears.

Because I devoured it. All of the creatures and characters(not just the dragons) lent something extra to the book. But most of my praise is reserved for our main character. Poor, lovely, brave Seraphina. She deserves to put on the list of Fictional People I Admire More Than Most Real Ones. *snickers*

But seriously.

I loved her passion for her music.

There are melodies that speak as eloquently as words, that flow logically and inevitably from a single, pure emotion.

I loved her in spite of her insecurities.

He did not know the truth of me, yet he had perceived something true about me that no one else had ever noticed. And in spite of that—or perhaps because of it—he believed me good, believed me worth taking seriously, and his belief, for one vertigi-nous moment, made me want to be better than I was.

Even though sometimes, she's a bit of an oddity.

Take good care of him, or I'll...I'll bite you!

In short, she's one of those characters you can't help but root for and sympathize with. I just want to give her a big hug--for enduring all that she had to, and for letting me live a few hours of my life in her head(oh, the places books can take you!).

I can't really find anything bad to say here. I found the conflict between humans and dragons interesting, the world-building to be wonderful, the pacing good, the characters fascinating.

A few things tickled me, in a good way. Like the dragons' perception of love.

They'll mop up my mind when I get home--I won't lose myself to it. But I want to measure this danger, stare right into the fearsome jaws of love, survive its deadly blast, and find better ways to treat others who suffer this malady.

I never imagined love as having fearsome jaws. But hey, if the dragons say so then who am I to argue?

5 out of 5 brilliant and amazingly shiny stars. Highly recommended.

Content: Mild language

The Scribbling Sprite ( )
  ScribblingSprite | Aug 10, 2015 |
Seraphina is a beautiful book. It's a story about differences and acceptance of those those differences. And also love. All while having some of the most interesting dragon lore I've read. The cast of characters is great. And Seraphina herself is a wonderful protagonist and narrator. I've been growing weary of picking up young adult fiction with what sound like promising female leads only to find they never seem to be truly smart, only bullheaded and irrational with their male counterparts there to be their conciance. Seraphina is not like that, she is a smart and thoughtful character who thinks the situation through and collaborates with Kiggs to solve the problems that face them. The two of them, along with the Princess Glisselda (another smartly written character), make for a wonderful team.

The world of the South Lands and Goredd is well imagined and interesting. There are moments when I felt as though things were moving a little slow and others where the pace was so fast I had to do a little re-reading to catch it all. But I had a hard time putting this one down. ( )
  blue_fantasy | Aug 5, 2015 |
Description: In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.

Thoughts: I'm surprised it took me this long to read this! I guess I was ignoring it because of the hype, but the hype turned out to be pretty well deserved.

This new look at dragons in human form (and all the problems and possibilities that brings with it) was quite interesting and gave a nice fresh side to a court intrigue story that otherwise would have been very average.

Seraphina is a very likeable and sympathetic character, strong willed and determined to do the right thing even when it puts her in danger, but vulnerable and lonely because of all she has to hide.

The plot is nicely paced and thoroughly explored, with nice unobtrusive hints to the unraveling mystery scattered along the way. I very much appreciated a story where I could pick out some of the hidden details but was still surprised by some things in the end.

The romantic aspects were a little bit forced at the beginning but it feels much more balanced by the end.

As for the audio, Mandy Williams does an excellent job with Seraphina's voice and narration, and many of the other characters as well, but some of her male voices are hindered and too similar.

Rating: 4.08

Liked: 4
Plot: 4
Characterization: 4.5
Writing: 4
Audio: 4

http://www.librarything.com/topic/188600#5133963 ( )
  leahbird | Jul 20, 2015 |
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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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