"We read to know that we are not alone." - C.S. Lewis
I suppose I should start out this review saying that this book was not what I expected. I avoided it for so long because I was "out of my dragon phase" or "it couldn't possibly live up to the hype it's just a dragon book" or "how different could it be from the many other dragon books I've read."
I'd just like it to be on record that I was wrong. Boy was I wrong. This book was fantastic, it did something entirely new with dragons and was engaging and completely lived up to the hype. And it made me love dragons again.
Because to be honest, I had grown disheartened with dragons. So many of the books I read that contained dragons were cheesy or silly or childish. This was the opposite. It took dragons and made them realistic in a way that was unique and innovative. It didn't try to make them contemporary or create a complete fantasy world. Instead, the dragons in Seraphina were formally grounded in the past, a fictional past in a false world, but the past. The author took the elements of medieval Europe and the many different peoples that resided within it and used this truth to create her fantasy. I have always thought the best fantasies were the ones that were grounded in truth. And Seraphina continues that strain of thought.
I just loved the world she created: the religion, the prejudices, the superstitions, the politics, the philosophy, the culture, the arts. Hartman didn't just create a place for her characters to reside in. She created a textured world within which they could thrive and come to life. I couldn't have been happier reading about Seraphina's music or the dragon's philosophy (not to mention the many other philosophers that were brought up as well as the many saints). It added legitimacy to the story. The characters (the good and bad and in between) didn't do things 'just because'; they had reasons and beliefs to back up their actions. Some believed firmly in ard and the dragon philosophy of the insanity of love, and when they spoke I was almost convinced. Likewise, others believed that dragons were evil and soulless and their lack of emotion was a revelation of that, and sometimes I even almost believed that. But most of the time I was torn, like Seraphina, between the two sides. And by the end of the book, as the Earl of Apsig so aptly put, "Nowhere is exclusively human; no side in this conflict is ours alone." He meant it in a much different way, but it rung true. No side was without good and bad, neither side was clear cut it was all mixed up.
So....where to go from here. There are so many things I want to say, but I have already gone on so much. So a list.
Things I loved:
1. Seraphina's garden.
2. Seraphina's character in general. (She was special without being "special")
3. Orma!!!! He is just a completely amazing character.
4. Basind....I couldn't help myself. He was so pathetically hopeless.
5. Kiggs. Duh. How can you not like him?
6. The religion. It was done very well and was incredibly intriguing.
8. Lars and Abdo: they were entirely adorable and I couldn't help but love them both!
9. The complex relationships between....everyone essentially.
Things I didn't like so much:
1. The revelation (I felt it was a tad anti-climatic....not how she revealed it, but Kiggs and Selda's reaction was a bit...meh...fortunately it got better)
2. Sometimes Seraphina was annoying in a bad way (I don't care if a character acts in an annoying fashion if it makes sense and is part of the character, in fact I love it when I am annoyed by characters because I get annoyed by people a lot...but sometimes they can be annoying in a way that is detrimental rather than good)
3. The lack of a certain plot element that was revealed early on, but not mentioned again as a good reason for Seraphina to keep her secret...also not mentioned when it was revealed. I just hope it gets mentioned in the next book cause it is kinda important. (SPOILER: Umm...does anyone else remember that half breeds were supposed to be killed...according the Allsaints? I feel that would be important to remember...)
So I suppose that is it. I could go on more, but I have things to do, books to read, places to explore...
Soundtrack: Wood by Second Person (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILo1v6Y7IB4)
Premise - 2/5
Characters - 5/5
Writing Style - 5/5
Story – 4/5
Realistic(the plot made sense) - 4/5
Enjoyment – 5/5
Average Rating - 4.2
My Rating - 4
Cover – Fantastic cover. It goes perfectly with the story!