I uploaded this book on the recommendation of awesome blogger, book fan and author Sara Letourneau, who said it was one of the best dragon series she’d read. Would I agree?
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.
Yep. The story drew me in from the first page and didn’t let go until the ending. Hartman’s particular take on dragonkind and the political setup is fascinating and original. And although it is advertised as a children’s/young reader book, this very mature adult thoroughly enjoyed it. Seraphina is well depicted. A gifted musician with a prickly nature and strong reasons for staying firmly in the background, I felt her character worked well.
There is also a strong supporting cast. I particularly liked Orma, as well as the magnificently dappy Basind, a newskin dragon who is finding it difficult to behave appropriately in human society. The sunny natured Princess Glisselda manages to be thoroughly nice, without coming across as prissy or too good to be true, which is far harder to pull off than Hartman manages to make it look.
For all this being a YA read, this isn’t a pushover. There are slices of philosophy, discussion of musical arrangements and the vocabulary is not at all dumbed down, given it is modelled on an alternative medieval world, where well-bred men and women are expected to be learned – especially those who mix with dragons. And the dragons who mix with humanity are expected to hold themselves away from any kind of emotion, relying on cold intellect alone – think of Spock with scales.
The narrative is action-packed with a satisfying conclusion, leaving me wanting to track down the next in the series.