In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”
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.
If you are looking for fantasy geared for young adults, then these books may just be for you.
Seraphina really finds herself thrown into the thick of the action, and she is far from safe in her position at court. Her story is intriguing and the characters make a refreshing addition to the genre. The novels’ take on the presence of dragons is entirely new to anything I have read before. The book deserves reading for that reason alone.
As an introspective person, Seraphina’s mind-garden appeals to me. It is a place to meet a multitude of personalities that live… well, in her mind! Like a caretaker, it is her duty to tend to the garden and those that live within it. If things become discordant, it affects Seraphina physically.
The personalities within her mind are obscure, but we come to know and love their quirks like children. Characters that come to mind even now, three years after reading the books, are Miss Fusspot and Fruit Bat. Each is distinctive, and Seraphina’s interpretations of her fellow ityasaari make more sense later on – no spoilers!
The biggest selling point for both books, in my view, is the gorgeous narrative. The descriptions of music are phenomenal, which makes the text flow beautifully as a result. There is also an immense attention to detail, drawing out each character and scene vividly.