I know I said I'd be more active on my last post, but life has been a little more hectic than expected.
However, I just caught up on the world-wide, blog-wide and wide-spread hype that is Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman.
It's dragons, high fantasy, new words and languages and concepts, royal families... everything I love about books!
"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."
I really wanted to fall in love with this book and this world, as so many people have! I feel like it has become a YA classic, so I felt like I had to get to it eventually.
I tried to like it as much as other bloggers have, but in the end, I was a little more confused than anything else...
Seraphina is a book that has a fantastic plotline, intricate characters and relationships, and a huge fantasy world behind it that I found to be simply incredible. At this point, I totally agree with other reviews about this book. Dragons are a concept I've always adored, and this brought them to a new dimension that I really enjoyed reading about! Rachel's world is new, original, and incredibly intricate.
Maybe that's where I fell short with my appreciation. Usually, stories that show such a big and complicated world stretch out the explanation in many books, or at least has some ties to a world we can understand. However, in this case, I feel like Rachel knows her world so well, that writing about it was very easy for her.
As someone who plays Dungeons and Dragons, I understand how a world you create can be incredibly clear in your head, to the point where when someone says 'what do you mean by this', it feels odd to have to explain it in simple terms. This to me actually felt like an intricate D&D campaign in some ways! A few NPCs (main characters) that work together on a quest (with dragons of course ^^) to solve a mystery - who killed the Prince?
But that also came with the downfalls of any good D&D campaign - very elaborate characters (Searphina has a lot going for her, to the point where her 'garden' didn't make sense to me), confusing names (Okra and Orma? I never knew who we were were talking about), many locations and sub-plot events that aren't exactly important to anything going on, and bigger, more important events that were just glossed over in a few pages (I honestly missed that Seraphina was stabbed twice until Kiggs said so).
In this sense, I feel like the book was missing some balance between characters and descriptions and events. Some ideas that felt important were mentioned once or twice. For example, the Dragons in the community regard mathematics as their main philosophy. I thought this was a really good idea and I couldn't wait to understand that concept further, but it was never elaborated on. There were many instances like that, including the dragon earring, and her father's over-bearing protectiveness.
Overall, the book is of a very high quality as far as the world and the characters go! I just feel like it is lacking world-building, and pages.
The next section will include spoilers!
Something else I understood but found odd was the incredible insta-love that was presented. It was obvious that Seraphina would maybe develop feelings for Kiggs from the description of the book. But after spending a day or so together, she takes a moment to herself and can already admit she's in love? Granted, she took the affair quite maturely and was honest with herself. She understood that he was to be married, and didn't want to complicate anything.
But then Kiggs turned around at the end of the book and loved her too?
I didn't see the basis of that, it felt like the element of a maid and a prince falling in love was enforced into the book.
Also, I was slightly confused about the whole poison subplot? I read the end of the book twice over and still am not sure as to what exactly happened.
It is difficult to rate this book, as I recognize the literary quality it as, the strength of the plot and the incredible world Rachel Hartman has in her mind. But it just wasn't something for me, I believe.
I'm giving Seraphina a 3/5 feathers. 3 for literary quality, minus 2 for me not enjoying it personally. Sorry, fans!
Have you read Seraphina? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!