Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)


Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Author: Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina, #1
Published: July 10th 2012
Publisher: Random House BfYR
Hardcover, 467 pages
Buy: The Book Depository

I have so much love for Rachel Hartman and this book! My five-star ratings are few and far between, but I’d give Seraphina ten if I could. It was so easy to get lost in this world of humans, dragons and those in-between – I still haven’t found my way back.

Hartman’s dragons are magnificent creatures, full of intersting paradoxes. On a physical level, they produce fire, but on an emotional level, they’re cold and tightly controlled. They go to great lengths to remain emotionless, even though their saars (human shapes) are more susceptible to emotions. They have ways to excise these unwanted emotions from their brains and they keep close watch on dragons suspected of harboring human emotions.


Dragons used meditation and what Orma called cognitive architecture to partition their minds into discrete spaces. They kept their maternal memories in one room, for example, because they were disruptively intense; the one maternal memory I’d experienced had bowled me over. Emotions, which the saar found uncomfortable and overpowering, were locked away securely and never permitted to leak out.


The world Hartman created has a distinctly Medieval feel, but with many exceptions and liberties that were quite unimaginable in the Middle Ages. She took the time to build this world, which resulted in somewhat slower pacing, but I didn’t mind in the least. I find that I’m willing to suffer through almost anything if that means I’ll end up with a complete and well thought-out world. Fortunately, Hartman’s intricate worldbuilding didn’t come at a price. From the very first sentence, Seraphina had me entranced. I took my time reading it and I appreciate that it allowed me to do that. The best books aren’t those that practically force you to turn pages. True works of art permit you to enjoy them slowly, at your own pace, and it takes a great author to achieve that.


As for Seraphina, oh my! If there was ever a heroine one could admire with no doubts or hesitations, a heroine whose every action is an inspiration, it’s Maid Seraphina Dombegh. Half-human and half-dragon, she isn’t even supposed to exist, and yet she finds a way to live so fully despite her need for secrecy. Phina has the best of both worlds: quick logical thinking and problem solving typical of dragons tempered with inherently human warmth and loyalty. I think these words directed to her by Dame Okra, another half-dragon, describe her better than I ever could:
Whatever else may be true of you, you do things your own way, with a refreshingly self-assured pigheadedness. I like that!


Over time, Seraphina falls deeply in love with Prince Lucian Kiggs, queen’s bastard grandson and fianc√© of Princess Glisselda, heir to the throne. Kiggs is the captain of the Queen’s Guard, competent, fiercely intelligent, and loyal to a fault. When she first meets him, Seraphina thinks of him as plain, but the more time she spends with him, the more beautiful he becomes in her eyes. They share so much, these two – their curiosity and love for philosophy, but above all, their loyalty to Glisselda, which makes it impossible for them to be together. Such bittersweet, well-written romance would be my favorite part in any book, but in Seraphina, the competition is hard. Singling anything out would be unfair to all the other parts I absolutely adore.

As soon as Dracomachia gets a cover, I’ll pre-order a copy. I don’t pre-order books with no covers, it’s just another one of my oddities, but this one almost made me break my own rule.

I hope my friend Catie will forgive me for stealing her line, but I simply couldn’t resist:
Fantasy lovers, rejoice!




36 comments:

  1. Great review, Maja! Now I have to look for a copy for a Seraphina. It seems like the book for me. :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a lovely review Maja! I'm so glad you enjoyed this, it was one of my favourite reads of the year. Your eloquent review definitely does it justice.

    I just cannot wait for Drachomacia to arrive!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This was lovely, wasn't it? One of my favorite reads this year! I need to read more fantasy novels like this one. And it helps that the book has such a lovely cover, so glad I was able to get a copy of the hardcover.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dragons, romance and grade A world building.... I can't wait to read this book. Thanks for the awesome review :)

    -Dannielle

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ah! I love the word "pigheadedness" to describe people! Serephina sounds amazing!!!!!!! I'm so glad the labyrith-style world building didn't cause the book to be unenjoyable. (yes, i really want to visit a labyrinth one day) Love how it has a medieval style world too!

    I definitely want to read Serephina now!

    ReplyDelete
  6. YEAH!!!! So glad you loved this one to Maja! It took me a little while to settle into this story (all the people in her "garden" threw me for a bit at the beginning) but once I was in I couldn't get enough of the story:) I will definitely be pre-ordering the second book as well, SO GOOD!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm so glad that you loved this book Maja, it took me a while to get into but after that I couldn't put it down, I absolutely adored Serpahina, Orma and Lucian. The whole Hartman created was mesmerising, I honestly can't wait for the second book either! Lovely review hun! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow Maja..you gave me goosebumps..this sounds wonderful and I love world-building, like you I can handle a slower pace if I get a complete picture and the heroine sounds lovely. Adding this to my list, a dragon fantasy book sounds like a great read for over the holidays..something magical!

    ReplyDelete
  9. YAY, I'm so glad you liked this one! I thought the beginning of the book was slow but I wasn't bored with it at all. I was really entranced by the worldbuilding and I really liked how the dragons where shape shifters. It helped me connect with them. I absolutely adored her uncle! I'm curious to see how the love triangle and the news of her coming out goes over.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yay! *Hugs* Reading your love and enthusiasm in this review is reminding me of my own feelings for this book, which are pretty on par. I cannot wait for the sequel! Love love love, fantasy lovers rejoice indeed!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book! I've been curious about it for a while but reading your review makes me want to buy it right away. Great review :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I loved this book too! The fantasy is just so darn engrossing and the romance. OH MY GOSH THE ROMANCE. I CAN'T EVEN. I felt so awful yet happy by the end. Even though there were a touch too slow moments for me, I adored all the characters and mystery as well. It was obvious at the beginning but then Rachel kind of goes, "Are you sure about that? Is that your final answer" with each new clue and you start sweating a little bit. xD Can't wait for the sequel!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am so disgusted with myself. I have had a copy of this for months and months and have not gotten to it, I will get it read before the end of the year. I know I will love it. I don't complain at complex world building slowing the pace as I love solid world building. Such as Stormdancer. I know I will love this, too. I have read such rave reviews on this and I am just sick that is languishing waiting for me!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wonderful review, Maja! I started this a while ago but never got around to finishing it. I need to pick it back up one day - I plan to! - and experience this all for my self. I'm glad you were impressed. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I really need to get a hold of this one, it sounds simply awesome. As always, loved your review!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Such high praise! I've seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book but I think you've managed to convince me! The part where you mentioned how the author doesn't push you into turning the pages piqued my curiosity and I want to learn more about this intricate, complex world! And I'm so glad you adored Seraphina so much - admirable heroines totally rock!

    Fabulous review, Maja <3

    ReplyDelete
  17. Maja, this review is phenomenal! I couldn't write a review for this book and wound up just listing everything I loved about it, so I'm amazed that you were even able to coherently put your thoughts together. (Actually, considering it's you with your writing skills I'm not surprised.) I am so, so, SO glad though that you loved this one. It has a subtle beauty about it that draws you in and feels inexplicably like coming home. Seraphina is a girl I would want at my back and KIGGS! Why don't guys romance girls with philosophical talks anymore? I'd be falling for them left and right! ;) Lovely review, dear. I keep thinking your reviews can't possibly get any better...and then they do! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Rejoicing! :D I am exactly the same way about world-building. I have a lot of patience for set-up if it's really well done. I get so happy every time I see another positive review for this book - I hope it wins some awards. I loved Seraphina and Kiggs, but I think some of the minor characters stole my heart even more - Orma and Lars particularly. I hope the cover for Drachomachia is another woodcut! Fantastic review, Maja!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow, five stars! That really is awesome. I'm not sure what I would think of this one. To be honest, I don't read a lot of fantasy so having to plough through so much information about a new world turns me off...moreso than a typical fantasy fan, I'm sure, as they would LOVE the details. LOL Sounds fascinating though. I like that it deals with dragos. I have a friend that would probably devour this.

    -Lauren

    ReplyDelete
  20. I loved reading your review! I do think that Seraphina is my favorite fantasy read of this year. It's such a subtle, well-imagined and well-written book. I didn't know that the sequel even had a title yet. Now I have a more concrete thing to fangirl over (and I'm sure the cover, once revealed, will prove to be just as gorgeous as its predecessors'). If you were to be picky with 5 star ratings, I agree that Seraphina should still deserve it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I thought Seraphina was a stand-alone. I love the idea of dragons, and the Medieval ages. But I hate long descriptions, usually. So, I hope that I won't mind it when I read this book.
    LOVED the quotes you gave, Maja. I am definitely ordering this one in the near future!
    Your constant reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  22. I know you don't give 5 stars out willy-nilly, Maja. So I'm sure this is amazing. My only reserve is the romance, I know my heart would probably hurt with the mention of bittersweet. But I know so many who've loved this so I must pick it up eventually. Maybe when the next one comes out. I'm wondering if this is the usual trilogy. I'll have to check. Lovely review Maja. :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I feel so sad, because I couldn't love this book.. It has every element I love, but it didn't work together in my mind. Seraphina has a great personality, but I couldn't connect with her and I had to skip some parts. Perhaps I will have to give it a try again, because everybody is SO excited and enthusiastic about this book.

    Lovely review, I like the quotes you picked!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I loved that Hartman made Glisselda a character and not a cliche. Fantastic review, Maja. I'm also eagerly awaiting... the cover reveal of Dracomachia. Haha. Great minds, baby!

    -Mags

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow! It seems like you really enjoyed this! and i really cant wait to dive in this book at MY own pace! The world building sounds awesome, and i really cannot wait to meet Maid Seraphina! Lovely review!
    - Farah @ MajiBookshelf

    ReplyDelete
  26. Lovely review, Maja! This sounds so good! Would this be age-appropriate for Katertot to read? Dragons and fantasy are right up her alley ;)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Wow.

    I'd passed right over this book because of the cover, but after reading your thoughts? Here I come, Seraphina! (Plus, there's an original take on dragons! What kind of D&D fan could pass this up?)

    Thanks for sharing, Maja!

    ReplyDelete
  28. AAACK I always freaking love your reviews, you're fantastic at writing them! I'm pretty sure you nearly always persuade me 100% to read a book. THIS ONE. I'm so excited to jump into the brilliant world building that Hartman is so talented at. FABULOUS review, Maja. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wow, high praise!! This one kind of passed under my radar and now I'm wondering why. Because it sounds AWESOME! I mean, the whole concept? So weird and creative and interesting. And I really love the way you describe it. This was a seriously excellent review - great job!

    ReplyDelete
  30. The dragons were by far the most fascinating, unique component of this book. And Orma was an utterly BRILLIANT character too. Unfortunately, I didn't connect with this book as much as you and many other fantasy lovers did (hence, three stars from me) but I'm really pleased that this was a five star winner for you, Maja. Hopefully the sequel will include everything you were hoping for and more. :) Splendid review, hon!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Great review- I loved Seraphina... I just haven't been able to put into words how I felt about this book to write a review!

    ReplyDelete
  32. This is one of my favorite covers ever and you're so right, every aspect of the book is so wonderful. And I can report that the author herself is just as great as the book:) I can't wait for book 2 either--isn't Dracomachia a fabulous title?

    ReplyDelete
  33. I loved this one too! The pacing it a bit slower but I didn't care because I fell in love with the world and characters of Seraphina. Plus, do you know how hard it is to find MC's in YA that will put others first, especially when it comes to their love lives?!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oooh, I'm so glad you loved this! I did too! Hartman's world building was just insane, in the best way.

    I want Dracomachia to have a cover right now!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I'm currently listening to this audio book. I almost gave up part way through, but I'm glad I continued. Agree, this book is a marvel!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I JUST found this one in my mailbox the other day, and I'm SOOOOOO incredibly excited to hear that you enjoyed it so much! YAY!!! I can't wait to read it!

    Marlene Detierro (Tactical Accessories)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. If you're a fellow blogger, I'll visit and return the favor as soon as possible. If your're using Google+ to comment, please make sure that your blog link is clearly visible on your profile.

Unfortunately, this is now an award and tag free blog, but I do thank you for your consideration.