June 27, 2012
First sentence: "I remember being born."
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Release date: July 10, 2012
Review copy provided by my place of employment.
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 this novel up, but 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 sixteen-year-old assistant chief musician in the castle. Except 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 forty years. It's a tentative peace, one which is hanging by the slimmest of threads. There is prejudice against the dragons rampant in the populace of Goredd, a fire that is barely constrained. And so when Prince Rufus is found beheaded, it's everyone's -- from the military down to the common people -- assumption that the dragons did it, and there are people 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 differences, 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 it's 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.