Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Tess of the Road
In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her books and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending ot be a boy.
Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. But the friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's trying to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one. 


I have been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it and saw that awesome cover! I had also been wanting to read Seraphina's books. So when I got a copy of this book from NetGalley and read that it was set in the same world as Seraphina, I decided that I should read Seraphina first so that I could get as much out of this book as possible. I am glad I made this decision!

Although TotR is not part of the same series, and you could probably read TotR without reading Seraphina first, I wouldn't recommend it. TotT takes place in the years following Seraphina's books, and Seraphina's books contain quite a bit of (very well written) world building and background information that may make parts of TotR difficult to interpret without.

I love how Rachel Hartman talks about important issues that we face today in such a unique way that captivates readers! She takes topics that are so prevalent and important to talk about in today's culture and perfectly fit them into a story about dragons! For example, Seraphina focuses heavily on racism and the acceptance of interracial relationships.

Both Seraphina and this book talk quite a bit about religion. In Seraphina, the Sons of Ogdo use religion as an excuse to hate. In this book, Tess' mother uses religion to keep her family in line. This book even touches on gender identification (Quigutls can change their gender), rape, and slut shaming.

Tess takes place in a time after the war, in which people are supposed to be more accepting of dragons.

I ♥ that we get to learn more about quigutls in this book! We meet several briefly in Seraphina's books, but they are not the focus. We get to spend much more time with them in this book, and we get to learn more about their personalities and the way they live.

Tess dreams of being an adventurer like Dozerius the pirate that she read about as a child. She runs away from her family after an embarrassing, drunken wedding. Luckily, she runs into Pathka, her childhood quigutl friend, and they go on an adventure together, like they talked about when she was younger.

This was an awesome book! I highly recommend it! I can't wait to see what happens next! My only issue is how long I am going to have to wait to read the sequel!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Other books by Rachel Hartment, based in Tess' world:


Friday, March 23, 2018

Seraphina series by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)    Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2)
In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, "Some of the most interesting gradongs I've read in fantasy."
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 ambassadoes, 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 have been wanting to read this book since I first head about it quite some time ago. When I learned about Tess of the Road (TotR)and found out that it is set in the same world as Seraphina, I knew I had to read Seraphina before starting TotR.

Before I started reading this book, I went back and read a bunch of reviews. Sometimes I get a little skeptical when I read so many reviews that talk about how great a book is, but Seraphina does not disappoint! It was AH-MAY-ZING!!!

I laughed, I cried, and I looked up a bunch of words that I didn't know the definition of (thank you Kindle app for your built-in dictionary).

I absolutely ♥ ♥ ♥ Seraphina, and I absolutely ♥ ♥ ♥ Rachel Harman's writing! Her world building and character development were extraordinary.

I also ♥ ♥ ♥ Orma! He was one of my favorite characters.

I was so thankful that I had access to book #2 right after finishing #1.  I would have been very sad if I had to wait to see what happened next.

Shadow Scale (book #2) was not quite as good as book #1, but it was still fun and entertaining and well worth the read. Plus, to better understand TotR, I definitely recommend reading both books.

I loved that Rachel Hartman was able to discuss serious issues that are present in today's society while telling a story about dragons in a fun and entertaining way (and not preachy). She talks about racism and race relations, as well interracial relationships. She talks about religion and misplaced hate, disguised as religion. She even touches on gender identity!

I think Norah Piehl said it well on Teen Reads:
Rachel Hartman's debut fantasy is self-assured and ambitious, with a complicated plot that is nevertheless engaging from first to last. It also possesses a sly commentary on our own political landscape, as Seraphina urges her human companions not to paint dragons as evildoers with too broad a brush.
Seraphina is a dragon novel that seemingly has it all: political intrigue, an imaginative world that never overwhelms the suspenseful plot, a wry sense of humor, a genuine romance, and, as readers will be pleased to discover, not only a satisfying narrative arc of its own but also the promise of a sequel. The end of the book finds Seraphina satisfied, having found her own "place to stand." Readers will be eager to discover where she'll land next.
I highly recommend this series! Check it out, then when you fall in love with Seraphina, read about her sister, Tess!

Stay tuned for my review of Tess of the Road! I will post it next week!