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Seraphina Hardcover – July 10, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 580 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 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!

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-For nearly 40 years, the treaty between the humans of Goredd and the dragons of dragonkind has held strong. Humans must not enter dragonkind territory and dragons, upon entering human lands, must take their human shape, or saarantrai. In Goredd, Seraphina's human father, a high offical, needs her to stay anonymous. The dark secret that she must hide is that her mother was a dragon. Because of her musical talents, Seraphina becomes Goredd's music assistant, helping prepare for the anniversary celebration. Layers of clothing disguise the scales on her arms and stomach, but unlike dragons, her blood runs red, not silver. Also, to keep from having fainting spells in which she relives her deceased mother's experiences, Seraphina must clear her head each night. She calls the figures in her vision grotesques, and each night, she must ensure all is calm in her mind-garden. When the decapitated body of Prince Rufus is found just days before the anniversary festivities, many humans are quick to accuse a dragon of breaking the pact. Seraphina's grotesques begin acting strangely, and the whole court is investigating the murder. When the celebrations are in full swing, all hell breaks loose as the rogue dragon that killed the prince enters Goredd in his dragon form and attempts to take control. Seraphina must risk revealing her true identity (and that of her fellow hybrids) in an attempt to save the kingdom. Hartman creates a rich story layered with intriguing characters and descriptive settings. Seraphina is a complex and fully developed protagonist. Although long, this unique novel (left open for a sequel) will surely appeal to fans of Christopher Paolini's "Eragon" books (Knopf) and wherever readers enjoy fantasies.-Lauren Newman, Northern Burlington County Regional Middle School, East Columbus, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"The Audition," A Prequel to "Seraphina"
Download the prequel to "Seraphina" to learn how Seraphina becomes Master Viridius's assistant.[PDF]

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Series: Seraphina
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375866566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375866562
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (580 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I hate it when I have the impression that I am reading a different book from other readers whose opinion I value. Hate it. Unfortunately, it happened with this book. I've read some really glowing reviews but, alas, I can't just - partially - share the love.

Objectively, Seraphina meets all the requirements to become the next epic fantasy series: it has an original take on a fairly exploited theme - dragons -, an amazing world-building, a well formed, strong main character, a 5-star-worthy writing style.

But let's go in order:
The story is set in a world where two species exist: dragons and humans.
Dragons, powerful creatures, mathematical minds, able to take human form (saarantrai) to interact with people, reject all emotions as weakness, to the point of excising them from their brains.
Humans, constrained in their fragile bodies, fear dragons above all else and despise them, even in their human form, to the point of racial discrimination. These two species have been at war with one another for the longest of times, except for the past forty years when a rather unstable truce gave apparent peace to the world. Now it's the time to renew the peace.
So, dragons. And humans.
And then, there's Seraphina. She is the unthinkable, a half-dragon. It is imperative her identity remain a secret, but when the Prince of Goredd is found brutally murdered and all fingers point to the dragons, Seraphina becomes the unwilling protagonist of an investigation to unveil a plot that is threatening to jeopardize an already unstable peace and which will oblige her to face her most dreaded nightmare: the truth about herself.

Sounds awesome, doesn't it?
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of the things which instantly caught my attention in the descriptions of this novel was the ability of the dragons to change their shapes to mimic the human body. That concept just absolutely opened up an entire realm of possibilities for this author. As it turned out, the saarantras (dragons in human form)are still not able to feel human emotion, but at least they can interact with humans without scaring them to death. That was simply one of the new world concepts this author invented to make a fascinating novel. The broad concepts of mathematics and music are also key to this new world along with bigotry and diplomatic negotiations. But I'm getting carried away and rushing too far along. The book description states that it is intended for ages 12 and up and it is perfectly appropriate for someone as young as 12. There is nothing of a sexual nature in the novel. I do think that the story was a little slow to engage my interest because the world building is so prominent in the first third of the novel, but don't give up on it. You will miss a real treat if you do.

This story concerns the central character of a young woman, Seraphina Dombegh, who has spent her entire 16 years of life hiding a secret. Now circumstances are beginning to change and Phina is having a harder time dealing with all the new happenings in her life which make the secrecy more urgent and yet harder to maintain. She has recently been hired as the music assistant to the court composer and her first difficult job will be to play a flute solo at the Invocation for the funeral of Prince Rufus. Feeling is running high because it would appear that the forty year peace accord between humans and dragons has been violated.
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6 Comments 78 of 89 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I loved Seraphina! I was totally blown away by this phenomenal YA fantasy, full of fresh ideas, clever plot developments, and fascinating dragons. This beautifully written novel is sure to impress readers, with relatable characters, savvy storyline and magnificent world-building.

Rachel Heartman's dragon world is simply gorgeous. I loved that she developed such an interesting and complex society, complete with political and social aspects. Dragons in this story mingle with the human kind; they take on a human form and live among their former enemies. They are not violent, fire-breathing, blood-thirsty creatures - they're very intelligent, rational, cold-minded, and diplomatic. They don't roam the skies in search of an easy pray, and they don't randomly attack innocent people - they're far more civilized for that. Hartman's dragons attend the court as ambassadors and give lectures at universities. They are scholars, scientists, and tutors. And yet humans don't trust them. The peaceful co-existence between humans and dragons is ensured by the peace treaty, but like with any treaty, there are those who support it and those who'd like to destroy it. The already unstable truce threatens to fall apart when a body of Prince Rufus is found, and the fact that it's missing head seems to be pointing to a dragon as his murderer.

Our sixteen-year-old heroine, Seraphina Dombegh, lives with her father, and works as the assistant of the royal music master. Her mother died while giving birth to her, and though Seraphina has no memories of her, she inherited her incredible musical talent. Though extraordinarily talented, she can't display her musical skills publicly, as she can't afford to draw attention to herself. Why? Because of the dark secret she's hiding.
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Comment 29 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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