I should get the gushing out of the way first: I have read books about dragons, some of which were really clever, but I have never seen dragons like this.
And that blew. me. away.
I have struggled with how to sum up this novel, but I am completely at a loss. There is so much going on, much of which is best left to be discovered as you go, that a summary is almost impossible. This is what I can tell you: the main character is Seraphina, a 16-year-old assistant chief musician in a castle. She has a secret, one that will cost her her life if revealed. The country is Goredd, which has been at peace with the dragons for 40 years. It’s a tentative peace, one hanging by the slimmest of threads. Prejudice against the dragons is rampant among the populace of Goredd, a fire that is barely constrained. So when Prince Rufus is found beheaded, it’s everyone’s — from the military’s down to the common people’s — assumption that the dragons did it, and people are calling for blood.
And then there are the dragons. They walk among the humans, as humans: learning, teaching, advising, observing. Granted, they stand out to the humans; dragons are more rational, less emotional, mathematically minded, and not at all spontaneous. But, even though they are different, it’s their ability to mimic humans that is the root of all the prejudice and terror in Goredd.
Really, that’s all you need to know to start. Know this as well: this is an excellent first novel. It’s a rich, rich world that Hartman has created, full of religion, politics, romance, music and action. And while it works as the start of a trilogy, it also stands on its own, bringing the story arc to a satisfying conclusion, while leaving threads open to pursue in later books.
But really, read this one for the dragons. You’ll never see them like this again.
Rated: Mild for some violence and a few instances of mild swearing.