Another Fine Myth, originally published in 1978, is the first book in the Myth Adventure series begun by Robert Asprin, also known for his work editing Thieves’ World. Later books were co-written with Jody Lynn Nye, and she now continues to write the series on her own since Robert Asprin passed away in 2008. John recently interviewed Jody Lynn Nye about Myth-Quoted, the latest book in the series, and the Myth Adventures books in general.

Normally I list the books in a series in a review, but I’m just going to refer to the list for the Myth Adventures series on Goodreads this time. Myth-Quoted was the twentieth installment, and listing all the books in the series would take up a lot of this review!

Skeeve, apprentice to the magician Garkin, spends his day practicing levitating feathers and lighting candles with magik until Garkin decides it’s time to teach his student an important lesson. Garkin wants Skeeve to understand that great power is meaningless without the ability to control that power, and Garkin plans to demonstrate this concept firsthand by summoning a demon. He informs Skeeve that the demon is “powerful, cruel, and vicious, and would kill us both if given the chance,” but he also reassures him that there is no need to be afraid of the demon. Garkin will contain him within the pentagram and he will be controlled, unable to give in to his vile nature and destroy them.

Unfortunately, the demon summoning is interrupted by an assassin, who claims to be there on behalf of Isstvan. Garkin does manage to kill the assassin with fire but is too late to save himself from being shot and killed. Even worse, he dies after summoning the demon, leaving Skeeve all alone with the monster and its terrifying sharp teeth and talons.

At first, the demon appears quite menacing, but soon he starts laughing at Skeeve’s visible terror. The demon introduces himself as Aahz, a friend of Garkin’s and a dimensional traveler (or demon for short). Garkin and Aahz had an arrangement in which they could summon each other in order to have a bit of fun with their respective apprentices. The pranks didn’t stop with their apprentices, though; the two usually played a trick on each other during the summoning. Aahz soon realizes that Garkin removed his own ability to use magik—leaving him stranded in Skeeve’s dimension without his power and no one able to restore it to him with Garkin’s sudden demise.

When Aahz hears the assassin claimed to be from Isstvan, he has an idea about what happened. At one time, Garkin and Aahz helped prevent Isstvan from implementing his plan to gain control of all the dimensions, and Aahz suspects Isstvan decided to remove Garkin before attempting to do the same again. With nowhere else to go, Aahz makes Skeeve his own apprentice and the two set out to stop Isstvan’s evil plot from coming to fruition.

The Myth Adventure series is one of my husband’s longtime favorites, and I finally read the first book in the series when I was looking for a fun book that wouldn’t take all that long to read. Another Fine Myth was exactly what I was looking for: an entertaining, diverting book. It’s not a book that has a lot of depth or takes itself at all seriously, and it’s well-paced without a dull moment. There’s a sense of humor, and it’s not nearly as cheesy as I had been expecting given the series’ reputation for puns.

It’s largely an adventure story without time spent on character development, although it may be bringing the characters together to set up later books since it is only the first of many. In this book, there are some general views on the different characters’ personalities, but none of them have a lot of substance. Aahz is the seasoned traveler who has a lot of knowledge about how the world (and various dimensions) works, and Skeeve is somewhat naive in comparison. A few small details about their pasts are mentioned that may be important in later books, but this book is more about advancing the story than exploring the characters.

The premise of numerous dimensions that can be visited leads to all kinds of possibilities for settings. In this first installment, the only other dimension that is visited is Deva, inhabited by the devilish merchants known as Deveels. (Making a deal with a Deveel is generally a Very Bad Idea.) There are other characters from other dimensions introduced, such as Imp assassins from Imper, who tend to be rather gullible. Aahz, the demon Skeeve travels with is from the dimension Perv, making him a Pervect (but most certainly not a Pervert, and he’ll be quick to correct anyone who confuses the two terms).

The beings from all these dimensions seem to be lumped together as having certain qualities due to their dimension of origin. In a more serious story, this would have bothered me, but it didn’t seem out of place in this book with its light-hearted tone. Another Fine Myth isn’t a book that focuses on the serious moments. For example, when Garkin dies at the very beginning, neither his apprentice Skeeve nor his friend Aahz spend much time being overly concerned about this death or dwelling on how they feel about it.

There is one aspect of the book that I can see bothering a lot of people, and that is the lack of strong female characters or even multiple female characters. There is exactly one female character with a speaking part in this book, and she doesn’t even show up until close to the end. Her main purpose seems to be to stroke the main character’s ego, as she constantly calls him “handsome” and says how he’s got style, although she is an assassin who seems to have some rather intriguing abilities. As mentioned, it’s not a book that focuses on attention to detail, but including multiple women interested in more than making eyes at the main character (as one other woman did from afar) seems like basic world-building to me—even if it is basic world-building that is quite frequently overlooked in fantasy books, especially older ones like this one. I do tend to assume approximately 50% of the population is female unless given reason to believe otherwise, and I did keep wondering what had happened to all the women. (Was there a deadly virus that only affected women for some reason? Were all the men such jerks that women decided to leave for their own dimension?) After I finished the book, my husband told me that Another Fine Myth is supposed to be a parody of buddy comedies and this lack of women is probably part of the joke. There are more female characters later in the series.

Another Fine Myth is a fun quick read with adventure, magik, dimension-traveling, assassins, and dragons (I liked the dragon a lot!). It’s not a book that will make one think too hard, but it is one that is easy to get drawn into and keep reading. I had a good time reading it, and I am planning to read Myth Conceptions, the next book in the series.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: I read my husband’s tattered copy of the book.

Today we have an interview with Jody Lynn Nye, author of the recently released Myth-Quoted!  Myth-Quoted is the newest book in the fantasy/comedy Myth-Adventures series that was begun many years ago by Robert Asprin.  This series has always been good for a laugh and light moment – even through many trials surrounding their creation – and Nye’s take on it continues to entertain and expand its universe.  As a long-time fan of the series I was very happy to be able to chat with her about all things Myth!

Jody Lynn Nye Giveaway: Myth-Quoted by Jody Lynn Nye

Fantasy Cafe: First of all, thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Jody. I know you’ve been working on the Myth Adventures books for quite a while, but based on some of the responses to our recent giveaway of Myth-Quoted it seems that some fans were still under the impression the series ended when Robert Asprin passed away in 2008. Could you please give a quick review of how you started co-authoring the series and ultimately took the reins to keep it going for those who might have mythed it? (I’ve really very sorry; I promise I won’t do that again…)

Jody Lynn Nye: Thanks for letting me sit in with you! I’m not surprised by the feedback you have been getting. I think most people would assume that a series would die with its creator, but look around at what’s happening in other genres as well as in SF. Even such classics as Gone with the Wind and Peter Pan have had sequels (Scarlett and Peter Pan in Scarlet, in fact.) not by their original writers. The difference is that I began to work with Bob long before his passing.

Like most people who read Another Fine Myth and the others, I fell in love with the characters and the world. A fantasy epic that was full of puns and didn’t take itself seriously? I was in college when the first one appeared. I read it, and was hooked. Thereafter, I kept a close eye on the very small collection of fantasy books in our local bookstore for each new one. I would never have thought I’d end up meeting Robert Asprin, let alone working with him on his best-known series. I know how lucky I have been.

We wrote eight books together. The first happened because Bob came down with a bad case of writer’s block following the announcement that he had made the New York Times Bestseller List.(Not your everyday reaction, but Bob was not your everyday guy.) My husband, Bill Fawcett, an author himself and a book packager, was one of Bob’s best friends. He felt the two of us would work well together, and that talking out a new book might help break the dam and let the words flow again. (He also sold the project to Baen Books.) That was the origin of our first book together, License Invoked. It had nothing to do with Myth or any of Bob’s other universes, or any of mine. It was a stand-alone, a humorous contemporary fantasy about spies, magic and rock ‘n’ roll. Bob came up to our house for a week to work on the book. Bill sat with us for a while when we started outlining, to make sure we wouldn’t kill each other, then went back to his office to play computer games. That was the extent of Bill’s input. Bob and I spent the next few days hammering together an outline. We marked in the margin who would write what section, with the idea that Bob would review the final manuscript before it went in. Bob went home to New Orleans, and we began writing.

Once Bob got going, he saw how well we worked together. When he finished with the last two Myth books on the original Donning-Starblaze contract, he said he wanted to write further Myth books with me. Bob felt that I respected the series well enough to trust me with it. I was thrilled but wary. I know how deeply his fans feel about the books. He felt that I understood the characters and the raison d’etre. I believe that I do, and I have the gift of being a good literary mimic, so you’ll find it difficult to determine who, in a collaboration with me, wrote what. That’s important, especially when the lead author has such a distinct literary voice. Thus Myth-Alliances came into being.

We had a ball coming up with each plot. Every year at DragonCon in Atlanta, we would sit together, usually in the Hyatt restaurant. I would type on my laptop, and the two of us would cackle over ideas. When we really got rolling, we’d be spouting ideas faster than I could get them down. I noticed fans walking by, dying to stop and ask us what we were talking about.

When Bob passed away, we were under way on Myth-Fortunes. There was never a thought that I wouldn’t finish it, of course. Under the circumstances, the timing of the book’s plot (the ultimate pyramid scheme, to sell tombs to people in an Egypt-like dimension, with Aahz thinking a little about his own mortality) was sadly ironic. It absolutely flattened me when Bob died. We were to meet up in person at MarCon the very next day. Bill and I had to cancel our appearance. I couldn’t possibly go and be funny so soon after losing such a dear friend. I did finish the book. I even got it in early.

The publisher approached me to continue with not only with the Myth-Adventures, but Dragons, the series Bob began a couple of years before his passing. I’ve now written two more Dragons books (Dragons Deal and the upcoming Dragons Run) and am working on the next Myth book.

FC: In a series that has now been running for thirty-five years, how do you manage the balance between stasis and change? Do you ever have the temptation to not mess with what has worked, just pretend you’re writing a sitcom and hit the big red reset button at the end of every book? Or is significant change necessary for the series to survive? I notice you were sowing some seeds of potential change throughout Myth-Quoted

JLN: Stasis was never a feature of the Myth books. Bob had Skeeve growing up very slowly, but mature he has, from a greedy wanna-be thief to a philanthropic leader, though still young. Neither of us is in a hurry to put him into a permanent relationship. Skeeve will always be Grasshopper to Aahz’s Master Po.

Seeds are always being sown. Bob has had an extended story arc before. The readers will see more as I reveal them. I think readers are comfortable with the basic status quo: the partners will always be there for one another. Beyond that, with every plot line comes challenges that they need to meet in different ways. As in Myth-Quoted, where Skeeve is worried about losing Aahz. But he’s been worried about that before. I’ll cover other things as they become important to the characters.

FC: It seems that the timing of Myth-Quoted is nicely appropriate after the election season we just survived. Is it tough to parody something that in the real world has already gone so far down the path of self-parody as politics? Or does the target just get that much bigger?

JLN: Strangely enough, that plot line was supposed to precede Myth-Fortunes and another book, which will one day appear. What with one thing and another, each book has come out at the right time. Fate’s a funny thing. Delaying Myth-Quoted only gave me another entire election season’s worth of outrage and absurdity from which to glean. I doubt I could ever run out of things to ridicule in politics.

FC: It must be nice to have the freedom to hop your characters to another dimension any time you feel like giving them something new to do. Are there any fun dimensions that have ended up on the cutting room floor, or places you’ve thought they should visit that they’ve never quite made it to?

JLN: Dimensions are so much fun to design! One of my favorite things about Myth was to learn that “demon” was short for “dimensional traveler.” A few dimensions turned out not to be worth writing about. A few are due for a reappearance, and that will happen, Crom willin’ and the publisher says yes.

FC: Other than some cameos, you seem to work with a tighter cast within each book in your take on the Myth universe when compared to the earlier books. Is there a particular reason you wanted to focus in more on subgroups of characters for each book? Or am I just imagining this?

JLN: When Skeeve ousted himself from M.Y.T.H., Inc., he voluntarily limited contact with the others. That was part of the story arc from Myth-Alliances onward. Until all of them were reunited in Myth-Chief, the stories used only a few of the partners. Unless the story takes place in the Bazaar, many of the other characters are on different missions. I like mixing up the groups to get a different dynamic.

FC: Maybe this is getting a little philosophical, but I’ve always wondered: You have a multiverse here where magic and technology theoretically exist side-by-side (depending on the dimension, of course). Where do you draw the line between the two? I’m sure that in a humorous fantasy series like this magic fits a whimsical style better, but is it possible to do technological whimsy in a multiverse like Myth? Or does it just not work the same way as an author or reader?

JLN: The fun of doing an all-technological dimension is that magik doesn’t work there, or only works a little. That may be why the people in it developed technology, to make up for the lack. The presence or absence of force lines (the source of magik) largely determines which way a dimension will develop. (Kobol is an all-techno dimension.) But there are exceptions. Perv is strong in both magik and technology. Sure, we can do techno-whimsy. This is Myth. Trust us.

FC: Myth Adventures hasn’t always been purely whimsical either, though. While still staying firmly in the range of comedy, several of the books from just before you joined as a co-author hit some heavier topics like alcoholism, parenthood, and feelings of betrayal among friends. Since transitioning out of that period you’ve still had some occasional undercurrents show up in your books, but would you ever want to bring those elements back into the story in a more forceful way? I hear “dark” and “gritty” are in right now, even for humor…

JLN: The mark of how real characters feel is if they experience things that other, real beings do. Skeeve ran away from home after his mother died. Aahz walked away from almost every relationship he had on Perv. Bunny has felt her intelligence was unappreciated because of her gender. Very adult situations will crop up in the characters’ lives because they are adults, in spite of the brightly-colored, funny situations. Many things that happen to them are literally life and death, but they get out of them in humorous ways. I hear “dark” and “gritty” are in, but I never bothered to make an appointment to see them.

FC: Since we’re discussing the Myth books, I have to ask you about the other Asprin-originated series that is now under your stewardship. I read that there is a new Dragon book coming out this year, is that right? And what about future Myth books for that matter, I assume from the events in Myth-Quoted that at least one more is on the way?

JLN: Yup. As I mentioned before, I have already published one Dragons book, and another is on its way out. I have a wonderful plot for the one after that, but it’s not under contract yet….  I am writing the next Myth book now.

FC: As an aside, I just wanted to let you know (if it somehow wasn’t already apparent…) that I’m a long-time fan of the series and of RLA in general; from middle school through college I literally read and re-read the early Myth books until the covers fell off, at which point I of course bought new ones and started again. I really appreciate that you’ve taken on the characters and universe so people like me can get new adventures from old friends. I think they’re doing well under new management, as it were, and am now a fan of you and your take on them in your own right. So, thanks, and I hope they keep coming!

JLN: Thank you so much for your faith in me. I will always do my best to make sure that readers of new Myth-Adventures will feel the same pleasure reading them as they did reading the old ones. I’ll keep writing them as long as I can. I have lots more ideas and plots.

Thank you again for interviewing me today! Please drop by my websites: and I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

Even though I reviewed the first book in The Seven Realms series, The Demon King, I never did review the second book, The Exiled Queen. That was partially because I read that one and one other book when I was sick and I never got caught up. It was also partially because I didn’t have a lot to say about the second book that I hadn’t already said about the first in this young adult fantasy series (aside from the fact that I enjoyed it even more than the first). That remains true for book three in the series, but I want to talk about it anyway because I don’t see these books mentioned often around the SFF blogosphere and I love them!

In an effort to get caught up on reviews, I’m writing some mini-reviews and The Gray Wolf Throne seemed like the perfect book for that since I didn’t feel like I had a lot to add to my feelings on the first book, other than that I also enjoyed this one more than the first. Instead of writing my own plot description, I am just going to show the book blurb, followed by my thoughts on the book. The plot description may contain spoilers for previous books. This review contains a spoiler for the end of the first book.


Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana”‘Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it–he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive–and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

Cinda Williams Chima is a wonderful storyteller with a knack for creating memorable characters. Her fantasy story contains some cliches and characters who seem to be unbelievably skilled, but I think this series is a perfect example of how tropes are not always bad. Even when I know what is going to happen, there is delicious anticipation about seeing events play out and the characters’ reactions to new knowledge. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why Chima succeeds with utilizing tropes when so many authors do not, but the way she creates and builds excitement through them makes it nearly impossible for me to put her books down. Her books are not ones I enjoy reading but then immediately forget about once a day or two has passed, either. Her books are keepers, ones I cannot imagine my bookshelves without.

All this discussion of cliches and tropes does not mean there are no surprising plot twists; in fact, there were a couple of major occurrences in The Gray Wolf Throne that I was not expecting. Nor does it mean there are no unique qualities to the world Chima has created. The foundation is very standard with the main story revolving around chaos in a queendom (not a kingdom!) that ties back to a story from long ago involving one of the Gray Wolf queens and a powerful wizard. There are some touches that add more depth to the world, such as the rules put in place due to these occurrences from long ago and the intricacies of the clans and varying attitudes toward wizards, both revered and hated.

The characters are why I most love The Gray Wolf Throne, though. The series follows two main characters: Raisa, princess heir to the queendom, and Han, a charismatic thief with a greater destiny. Han and Raisa are both characters who seem to be incredibly good at everything, and they have a lot of qualities I usually groan about when it comes to fantasy characters. Han is a crafty thief who is well known in his city, a badass fighter, a powerful wizard, and a handsome, charming young man. Raisa is a spirited young woman who is not afraid to get her hands dirty and work hard, lovely and beloved by men, and she has all the makings of a compassionate and wise future queen. Yet neither of them irritate me with Their Awesome, and I wouldn’t want them any other way. They’re not annoying to me because both of them have come far since book one and develop throughout the books. Also, neither of them have an easy life, and the struggles they face make me want to see them prevail against all obstacles that come their way. Han and Raisa themselves are the main reason I loved this book so much, and without them this book just would not have resonated with me the same way.

I am looking forward to The Crimson Crown—but also dreading it because it is the last book in the series. (However, I was thrilled to read an interview with Cinda Williams Chima in which she said that she is “very likely” to write more about the Seven Realms since this series is actually a prequel to another that she began writing!)

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: From an author ARC signing at Book Expo America.

Read an Excerpt

Other Reviews of The Gray Wolf Throne:

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Only one book this week, but it sounds like a good one since science fiction stories influenced by fairy tales tend to pique my interest.

When We Wake by Karen Healey

When We Wake by Karen Healey

This young adult science fiction novel will be released in hardcover and ebook on March 5, 2013. There will be a sequel to When We Wake told from a different character’s perspective.

I haven’t read anything by Karen Healey, but I have heard good things about her other books (Guardian of the Dead and The Shattering). It intrigues me to see that When We Wake was influenced by “Sleeping Beauty” and the author has been writing essays about Sleeping Beauty stories leading up to the book’s release.


My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Award-winning author Karen Healey has created a haunting, cautionary tale of an inspiring protagonist living in a not-so-distant future that could easily be our own.

In an effort to get caught up on reviews, I’m writing some mini-reviews! Instead of writing my own plot description, I am just going to show the book blurb, followed by my thoughts on the book.


A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

Set in a phenomenally built world in which justice is a collective force bestowed on a few, craftsmen fly on lightning bolts, and gargoyles can rule cities, Three Parts Dead introduces readers to an ethical landscape in which the line between right and wrong blurs.

There was no way I was not going to read Three Parts Dead after reading the description and a little bit of the beginning. I love stories involving gods, and I was rather intrigued by the idea of a woman whose job involved resurrecting a god from the dead. The opening line, “God wasn’t answering tonight,” drew me in along with the rest of the prologue and the first few pages about Tara being cast out from the Hidden Schools. After finishing the book, I wasn’t quite sure what to think, though. It had some excellent qualities and was very unique, but… I didn’t love it or find the story of investigating the death of the god particularly compelling. Even so, I am really interested in what Max Gladstone writes next since I did enjoy his writing style, world, and characters very much.

The world in Three Parts Dead has a touch of the familiar, but it’s mostly very unique and complex. It has a bit of an older-school modern city feel with horse-drawn taxis and clubs, and its population includes vampires, gargoyles, priests, and practitioners of Craft like Tara and her new boss, Elayne. There’s a lot to absorb with the gods, Craft, and the rules of this world. It’s fascinating, but at the same time I did think the world seemed simultaneously underdone and overdone, which I think is mainly due to its intricacy. Much of the world is revealed through infodumps and explanations in the dialogue, and I felt this made it seem overdone because there was so much information at once. On the other hand, there was so much to the world that it seemed to just be scratching the surface, leaving me feeling like I knew so little about it despite all the details I’d been told. Because of this, parts of the world seemed a bit vague to me despite the detail, but I did find it a very interesting place to visit.

In a lot of books that have investigations the characters seem like they are bumbling around to draw out the case, but the main characters in this one do not behave that way at all. Tara and Elayne are both very capable and intelligent, and Elayne especially is sharp-witted and observant. Even though I loved their portrayal, there seemed to be a distance from them. I understood their basic motivations, but I never felt that I understood who they truly were as people.

The author does know how to turn a phrase, and his characters display their intelligence through their dialogue and conversation. However, I did find the actual investigation to be dull other than how it turned out in the end. Three Parts Dead also had an amazing, memorable ending scene that completely took me by surprise (and convinced me that Elayne is just plain awesome).

It’s difficult to sum up my thoughts on Three Parts Dead. Part of me loves it since it’s not a dumbed down book that spells everything out for the reader, it has some really interesting characters who are intelligent and competent, and it has a great ending I was not at all expecting. Another of me doesn’t because there were times that the story itself bored me, despite all its other wonderful qualities, and I had some reservations about the amount of world detail. However, I do think it is a stellar debut, and the author has an excellent handle on writing, characters, and imaginative world-building. If the storyline had just drawn me in a bit more, I would have been enthralled by this book. As it is, I’d certainly like to read more by Gladstone since I think this novel had some excellent qualities.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the publisher.

Read an Excerpt

Other Reviews of Three Parts Dead:

As often happens after the holidays at the end of the year, I’ve gotten behind on reviews. I want to mention the books I’ve read, but I also want to get caught up since I’m trying to set some reading/review schedules for myself and that’s hard to do when I’m so far behind. So… I’m going to attempt some mini-reviews! I’m not necessarily going to review everything currently in my to-review stack this way, but I am going to review the newer books I’ve seen reviewed (often many times before) in fewer words than normal. Instead of writing my own plot description, I am just going to show the book blurb, followed by my thoughts on the book.

About Seraphina:


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 ambassadors, 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.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.

Rachel Hartman’s debut novel, a young adult fantasy, seems to have been lauded all over the book blogosphere since its release last summer. Now that I’ve read it myself, I understand the praise it has garnered. This is an incredible first novel with some beautiful writing, an intriguing setting, a wonderful heroine, and a complex world. I am now joining the ranks of those who highly recommend this book!

I loved the complexity of the world Rachel Hartman created with its numerous saints and the melding of human and dragon societies after the treaty. In particular, I admired how she didn’t simplify the peace between humans and dragons. Sure, there was a treaty, but that didn’t mean humans and dragons just started living in harmony because their respective leaders decided they should. (And I am desperately wishing for a prequel telling the story of the young queen who negotiated peace with a dragon. Now that had to have taken some courage!) Even forty years later, humans and dragons still have their prejudices concerning each other that permeates their societies, which rings completely true since changes that big take time. Dragons look down on humans for their emotions, and humans believe dragons to be soulless creatures, thinking poorly of their lack of artistic talent. Yet the more I read, the more apparent it is that it’s not as simple as “dragons are this way,” and I loved that it dealt with regulation and expectations reinforcing beliefs.

Seraphina herself is a wonderful character facing some rather large obstacles. She carries a secret about herself that would have dire consequences were it revealed. Due to fear of her secret being discovered, Seraphina’s father would prefer she remain in safe isolation, but Seraphina has other plans for herself. Her great musical talent leads her to court, where she becomes the assistant to the composer. I loved that Seraphina didn’t let herself live in fear and followed her dreams, even when she was discouraged from doing so. She possesses a courageous spirit, determination, wit, and a kind heart—but her possession of these excellent qualities is not overwhelming, nor is she flawless. Seraphina has enough insecurities and humanity to be sympathetic while remaining an admirable character. Though the titular character is my favorite, I also appreciated that many of the other characters were more complicated than they initially appeared (such as Glisselda, who was much smarter than the simple spoiled princess I thought her to be in the beginning).

In addition to having a strong world and characters, the novel is compulsively readable, difficult to put down, and well-written. I think Seraphina has one of the better prologues I’ve read (I usually find prologues bland and pointless). It’s only 5 pages long, but it captured my attention with the very first line: “I remember being born.” In those few pages, it shows a little of Seraphina’s early life while introducing the religious part of the world and her relationships with her father and Orma.

The main downside to the book is that it could be somewhat predictable. For instance, there was a revelation about one particular aspect Seraphina had wondered about for a long time that wasn’t difficult to figure out (and I felt like maybe Seraphina or Orma should have at least considered that possibility sooner). There were also a few parts I found slow toward the beginning, but for the most part, I found it pretty easy to devour its pages.

Seraphina is a stunning debut novel, and I’m looking forward to the sequel, likely be released in spring 2014.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: I purchased it.

Read “The Audition” (a short prequel to Seraphina)

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