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Seraphina

by Rachel Hartman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Southlands (1), Seraphina (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,1602363,228 (4.11)1 / 210
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.
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  8. 00
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» See also 210 mentions

English (232)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (233)
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
Three and a half stars. I liked the world, I liked the religion, I liked the dragons, I liked the music, I liked Seraphina... but she kept doing things that were oh-my-gosh-dumb, which was distracting and annoying.

I was enthusiastic enough when I finished it to look for the sequel right away, and was annoyed it wasn't out yet. So I think the flaws were mostly outweighed while I was immersed in the book. ( )
  VictoriaGaile | Oct 16, 2021 |
Caveat--

Did not finish.
I think that the main issue I was apathetic towards this book was because the main character was largely apathetic (or at least the tone was). I was disappointed... in myself because I like to finish books, and because I've heard such stellar things from people who I respect about the book and, somehow, my not liking it lowered my respect for myself in my own eyes.

Would like to return to this book to read it sometime (when I'm more aligned with the target audience, perhaps?).
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Not as strong as Tess of the Road but it carried a lot of the same quiet strength. I need to read more of these books. ( )
  jamestomasino | Sep 11, 2021 |
-------------THE AUDITION-------------
4* Great introduction to four of the main characters. Story is in the paperback edition of Seraphina

-------------SERAPHINA-------------
4* Audiobook listeners be warned There is a Cast of Characters and a Glossary in the physical book. I was struggling a bit with the narrators voice and the non-traditional names so I checked a physical book out from the library. The lists are great. I'm going to start the audiobook over. I had gotten to disc 5 but now that I have a better grasp of the characters, the musical instruments, the new terms and the location I want to restart the story. // I am so happy I started over. Truly a beautifully written story.
-----------------

Has two narrators listed but I only heard one which is announced as Mandy Williams.
----------------

4.5 stars
-----------------

Some things I had issues with or open questions about. Perhaps I will find the answers when I reread someday:

-- I didn't feel the benefit of the treaty to the dragons. (on re-read I understood better. During war they would of course defeat humans but at too great at a loss to them, too many deaths. And, they find humans interesting)
-- I don't understand why there is scholar exemptions and why Olma would be allowed to have one knowing his family history. (on re-read I understood what a scholar exemption is better. It's so they can observe human behavior without revealing they are dragons. It still seems unlikely that Olma would of been eligible though they didn't discuss what would make any dragon be eligible.)
-- How are their human looks determined?
-- Why was she allowed to sing at her father's 2nd wedding? I thought she was suppose to stay under the radar. She sung her mother's song.
( )
  Seayla2020 | Aug 22, 2021 |
{First of 3 4 in Goredd series; fantasy, YA, dragons} (2012)

Re-read but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Seraphina has a secret so dangerous that even she did not know it at first. Sixteen year old Seraphina, whose mother died when she was born and whose father is a lawyer for the royal court representing saarantras, has been working at the palace, known as Castle Orison, in Lavondaville (capital of Goredd) as Music Mistress for two weeks (even though her father doesn't like her playing music). She is the assistant to Viridius, the Court composer who is in charge of musical entertainment for the upcoming celebration of the 40th anniversary of the truce between humans and dragons and she also teaches Princess Glisselda, who is a year younger than her, to play the harpsichord - or spinnet, if you're reading the UK edition.

“Forty years,” interrupted Eskar. “We‘ve had forty years of peace. You weren‘t even born when Comonot‘s Treaty was signed. Your own mother—”
“Rest she on Heaven‘s hearthstone,” I mumbled, as if it were my job to make up for the social inadequacies of dragons everywhere. The prince flashed me a grateful glance.
“—was but a speck in the queen‘s womb,” continued Eskar placidly, as if I hadn‘t spoken.


Seraphina has inherited secrets from her mother along with physical impairments which she keeps hidden and visions which she controls by maintaining a dream garden full of grotesques. But her closest family acquaintance is the saarantras Orma who has taught her about dragons.

He taught me not just music but everything he thought I should know about dragonkind: history, philosophy, physiology, higher mathematics (as close as they came to a religion). He answered even my most impudent questions. Yes, dragons could smell colors under the right conditions. Yes, it was a terrible idea to transform into a saarantras right after eating an aurochs.

Dragons and humans co-exist very uneasily and those dragons which take human forms and live as saarantras amongst humans are regarded with suspicion and superstition and are required to wear bells to distinguish them. For their parts, dragons find human emotions uncomfortable and hard to understand although some saarantras do try.

Only then did I notice the dragon waiting for me on the cathedral steps, flashing me his best facsimile of a proper human smile. No one in the world could have found Orma‘s strained expression heartwarming but me.

and

“I‘m sorry about your mother. I believe I am.” He gestured toward his stomach. “There, yes? That‘s where one feels it?”

The dragon Ardmagar, Comonot, will be coming to Lavondaville for the anniversary and while the royal family and those at the palace want everything to go well, the general human population is uncomfortable with the idea of more dragons in their city - and the Sons of St. Ogdo are especially disapproving - so relations are a bit tense.

An aged monk led me to the infirmary. “He‘s got the place to himself. Once the other invalids learned there was a dragon coming, they miraculously got well! The lame could walk and the blind decided they didn‘t really need to see. He‘s a panacea.”

Suddenly Prince Rupert, only son of the queen, is assassinated and the obvious suspect is dragon-kind. Since his head was missing, a dragon must have killed him. Mustn‘t it? The story opens with Prince Rufus‘s funeral.

Seraphina, with her unique perspective on dragons, finds herself trying to foil a plot against the Ardmagar and the peace treaty, trying to prevent an inter-species war, battling the prejudices of humans against dragons as well as the prejudices of dragons against humans and against other dragons whom they perceive as getting too close to humans and protecting her secrets while inadvertently making friends with members of the royal family. And then, to top it off, she starts meeting the grotesques from her garden in real life.

This was a very nice story, set in a medieval-type world (as evidenced by phrases like ‘A recent scandal over the dissection of human cadavers hadn‘t helped matters.' and medieval-sounding saints), well told with flashes of humour - which I always appreciate - and which lightened the mood and kept the story flowing. I love the wonderfully irreverent cast list at the beginning - don‘t skip over it!

Orma moved a pile of books off a stool for me but seated himself directly on another stack. This habit of his never ceased to amuse me. Dragons no longer hoarded gold; Comonot‘s reforms had outlawed it. For Orma and his generation, knowledge was treasure. As dragons through the ages had done, he gathered it, and then he sat on it.

Since most of the story takes place around the palace, we barely see any of Serphina’s home life - just enough to know that her father loves her and her stepmother is kind, but her secrets keep interactions awkward. It is nice to see a royal family who care about each other rather than being distant and it is obvious, although we never get to meet Prince Rupert, that he was a good man who benefitted his country and who will be deeply missed by his family.

I liked this story a lot. Hartman uses language well and in unanticipated ways. She has filled Seraphina's world with medieval clothes and instruments; which, because I was reading this book through Overdrive, I could look up quickly on the web.

houppelande or houpelande: an outer garment with a long, full body and flaring sleeves and sometimes lined with fur, that was worn by both men and women in Europe in the late Middle Ages. The garment was later worn by professional classes and has remained as the familiar academic and legal robes of today.

aurochs: species of cattle, now extinct in our world

wimple: headdress worn by women over the head and around the neck, cheeks, and chin.

oud (Arabic): a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped, fretless stringed instrument

June 2021
4.5-5 stars ( )
  humouress | Jul 23, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rachel Hartmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davidson, AndrewCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kolesova, JulianaIllustrator (Title Page)secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palisi, HeatherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, MandyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Canonical title
Original title
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Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
In memoriam: Michael McMechan.
Dragon, teacher, friend.
First words
I remember being born.
Quotations
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.
(page 90)

"My faith should not come easily;
There is no Heaven without pain.
My days should never flutter past
Unnoted, nor my past remain
Beyond its span of usefulness;
Le me not hold to grief.
My hope, my light, my Saint is love;
In love my one belief."
(page 142-143)

The vagabond sun winks down through the trees,
While lilacs, like memories, waft on the breeze,
My friend, I was born for soft days such as these,
To inhale perfume,
And cut through the gloom,
And feast like a king upon peaches and cheese!
I'll travel this wide world and go where I please,
Can't stop my wandering, it's like a disease.
My only regret as I cross the high seas;
what I leave behind,
Though I hope to find,
My own golden city of peaches and cheese!
(page 144)

I'll ask my true love, and I'll hope she agrees,
How could she not, when I'm down on my knees?
My Jill, say you will, and don't be such a tease.
When it's time to eat,
I say sweets to the sweet,
My love, let your answer be peaches and cheese!
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

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