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David Bradshaw, Aldous Huxley
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Serafina: Das Königreich der Drachen  - Rachel Hartman, Petra Koob-Pawis Die deutsche Rezension findet ihr hier.


Seraphina lives at Goredd’s court where she helps the composer and sometimes takes part in the playing herself. If it was for her father, she would stay hidden at home, but Seraphina needs her freedom despite her secret no one must ever know of. So far she did well, but that changes when the prince is found dead with his head severed from his body – it is the dragon way to kill.
It is a huge scandal as an unsteady peace was made years ago that forbids dragons to change into their true form, but is also supposed to shield them from human attacks. It is a peace that helps both sides, which many have forgotten. Now a search for the murderer starts, in which the prince’s nephew – Lucian Kiggs – participates. Even Seraphina is included because of her knowledge and it becomes very difficult for her to keep her secret – especially since she comes to some realizations that give many things a whole new meaning.

“Seraphina” is a book where I am not sure whether to love it or not. There are a lot of arguments for and against it, and in the end it is always a “yes, but” – I do hope the next book will be more on the positive side.

Let us start with the obvious: the dragons. Scaled creatures will always have a special place in my heart, and of course I am counting dragons in even though I have read surprisingly few books with them. Be it as it may, I like dragons and if they are not only the winged but lovely flame-throwers, I am a happy reader. Rachel Hartman made more of them and gave them a mathematical nature that is always concerned about logic which pleased me as a participant of advanced courses in maths in school (though not a very successful one) very much. Even if you do not like maths, do not worry: when dragons want to interact with humans, they have to change their shape – or the humans speak Mootya, the dragon language, which is highly unlikely. In their human bodies they are confronted with quite a lot of things, such as emotions, which are, strictly speaking, forbidden for them. If they get too involved with their emotions, they have to endure a process that erases their memory of them and everybody involved.
It is a harsh system that is put under close observation. As much as I liked the little misunderstandings and bickerings resulting from the dragons’ different nature, neither they nor the humans are the good ones here.

The book’s second strength is the characters. I admit that I did not feel as much with Seraphina as I hoped, but that is mainly because I do not feel that much for music – she does. I might like it, for her it is nearly everything.
There are other characters, though, that might not be perfect but lovable. It starts with the young princess Glisselda who is still highly influenced by others, and goes on with Captain Kiggs, Seraphina’s dragon teacher Orma (who deserves the most applause) and Lars as well as others who only meet Seraphina in this book. There are various personalities and fates and I do hope we will get to know more about them in the next book. After all, there is still much to learn.

Even the language convinced me. The setting includes swords, old-fashioned habits and the slowly ongoing technological development, and that is what the language sounds like. (Or, in this case, the German translation; I am sure it accounts for the original as well.) The translation sounded slightly stiff every now and then, but it usually suited the situation and it was rather rare that it did not.
So, why can I not be completely enthusiastic about this book? So far, it has everything to be at least good.

Well, mainly I was missing some suspense. The murder and its investigation were probably supposed to create that, but that does not really work if you barely offer any hints toward the culprit. For a long time the story is rather drawn, and even if I never felt bored, there has always been something missing.
The ending consoled me a little bit again; there, even action lovers like me can enjoy themselves.

If it were not for the rushed looking love thing, I might have been content. Of course there is a romance, which is not a bad thing in itself. At the beginning, it is not even very dominant but hides in quickly dismissed thoughts so the reader can be looking forward to what is coming. The realization, that it is truly love what they feel, came too quickly, though, and is not really based on anything. It is simply too strong for the beginning of their relationship. Maybe I am too strict as this is something I am complaining about a lot. But there is a difference between loving and being in love, and most of the times it is not acknowledged. However, there is not much to be said against any other development of that part of the story, so it is only a minor niggle.

“Seraphina” has both its positive and negative aspects. While the plot is a little bit drawn and the word “love” is mentioned too early, it is convincing with its different and likable characters. Also, the dragons we get to know here are responsible for some very entertaining reading hours. We will see how the author will continue her story – I will definitely have a look.