I’m a bit torn about the rating on this one, struggling between 3 and 4 stars. While I enjoyed the world-building—which was chockfull of engaging details including an entirely original religious system, invented philosophers with ideas I’d quite appreciate in the real world, and utterly novel dragon mythology—I was not blown away by the plot itself. The storyline was overly convoluted and even unbelievable at times; for example, I found the fact that the royal family became trusting of and attached to Seraphina so quickly bizarre and unlikely. I also found the romantic side-plot incongruous with the rest of the text, though I am thoroughly supportive of the couple since they actually talked together a lot and have things in common! My biggest complaint concerns the rushed ending. There is not much resolution in this volume, so the overall effect of the story was like reading Part 1 of 2. Even if a book is arranged to be a series, I never appreciate feeling like I just read a Part 1; a book must stand alone. Technically, Seraphina stands alone, but the ending wraps so little up while introducing more problems than existed when we started. Still, this was a captivating book and easy to consume in a few reading sessions. I previously mentioned my love for the worldbuilding, but I would be remiss to not praise the characters as well. Seraphina is a wonderful protagonist with a host of personal issues that provide ample discussion material (there are wonderful ethical issues here that bring to mind the controversy over interracial marriage and how racist people react to it and consider any resulting offspring). Lucian, the bastard prince, has similarish problems, which creates a nice feeling of congruity with Seraphina and some minor characters. I have high hopes for the sequel Dracomachia because now that the world is sufficiently built, the stakes are effectively raised, and the characters are properly introduced, Hartman will hopefully create a more gripping, better paced plot that will come to a full conclusion. I think I’ll rate this 3.5 stars; I certainly enjoyed it, there is lovely writing and worldbuilding and blending of themes, but after closing the book, I find myself without much to say about it. Except for: I loved Orma!