''Seraphina'' is the first novel in a planned series, and Rachel Hartmanís debut novel.

Set in a country similar to medieval Europe, Goredd, the eponymous Seraphina has just been granted a position as assistant to the Royal Courtís composer. The forty-year anniversary of peace between humans and dragons is approaching when Prince Rufus of Goredd is murdered in a suspiciously dragon-like manner. Seraphina is caught up in the mystery, trying to discover the culprit and protect the tenuous peace while guarding secrets of her own.
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!!''Seraphina'' provides examples of:
* [[spoiler: AChildShallLeadThem: Glisselda is only fifteen when she's thrust into assuming leadership in Queen Lavonda's stead.]]
* AFormYouAreComfortableWith: Dragons must stay in their saarantras around human territories.
* AllGaysLoveTheatre: Viridius and Lars are a court composer and his musical protťgť respectively.
* AsTheGoodBookSays:
** The Sons of St. Ogdo, a religious group opposed to the peace between dragons and humans, quote their patron saint in their demonstrations and attacks.
** Orma also does this, but in a purely intellectual sense.
* ArrangedMarriage: Prince Lucian and Princess Glisselda.
* BadHabits: [[spoiler: Thomas Broadwick]] disguises himself as a monk in his attempt to murder [[spoiler: Comonot]] - who is actually also dressed as a monk.
* BigScrewedUpFamily: almost all the main characters come from one:
** Seraphina's mother, Linn, never revealed to Claude Dombegh that she was a dragon, and that their marriage was therefore illegal: he figured it out as she died in labour. He spent the next eleven years lying to Seraphina about her mother's origins, going so far as to forge a marriage with a woman who never existed. He remarried when Seraphina was a child, and while his new wife and their children seem to get along well, Seraphina feels alienated from them.
** The royal family aren't such a well-adjusted bunch either. The youngest of Lavonda's children, Princess Laurel, eloped with a Samsamese admiral and had a bastard, Prince Lucian, before dying in a shipwreck. Princess Dionne is incredibly bigoted towards dragons, which is a terrifying trait to have in someone who would soon enough have to help uphold the Treaty. [[spoiler: And while Glisselda's father doesn't seem to be in the picture, Dionne was still seemingly willing to have an illegal affair with Comonot.]] Prince Lucian lost both his parents at age five in an accident he narrowly avoided being in, was brought to a foreign country where he couldn't speak the language, had to live with relatives he had never met and deal with the scorn associated with being a bastard: no wonder he was a problem child.
** Orma's family is the best example. His sister, Linn, illegally married a human and brought shame and suspicion onto the entire family: their father Imlann went rogue after hoard was confiscated, their mother killed herself from the shame, and Orma is now under constant scrutiny from the Censors for overly emotional behaviour towards the only thing he has left of his sister, his niece Seraphina.
* {{Body Horror}}: Seraphina growing scales as a child.
* BreathWeapon: Dragons spew flames.
* TheChurch: There is at least one cathedral dedicated to a particular Saint (St. Gobnait's in Lavondaville), which is administered to by monks.
* ColourCodedPatrician: While the austere Samsamese wear dull colours generally, only the nobles wear black.
* {{Dance of Romance}}: Seraphina and Kiggs dancing their second pavano at the New Year's Eve ball.
* TheDragonsComeBack: Played with. After humans moved south and the herds died off, dragons retreated north to the mountains and declined in numbers due to reduced resources. This all happened around two thousand years before ''Seraphina'', and at an unspecified point in the interval the dragons returned and war was waged. After the peace treaty dragons return in saarantrai, mainly to study.
* DragonHoard: Dragons hoarded treasure until the treaty and Ardmagar Comonotís reforms. Interestingly, the new generation of dragons still hoard in a way, collecting books and sitting on them.
* {{Emotional Emotionless Person}}: Dragons claim to have no emotion in their natural forms, and look down on "the fetid backwash of the monkey mind", but they are obviously capable of anger, pride, loyalty and even affection.
* FantasticRacism: Humans see dragons as demonic and soulless; the same extends to Quigutl, which are also seen as filthy. Dragons for their part detest human emotions and their illogical nature, but this is more because of their own negative experiences while transformed as humans, and after the Treaty only really affects dragons who become too close to humankind and their dangerous emotions.
* {{Fantasy Counterpart Culture}}: Samsam is something between Scotland (highlands, bagpipes) and Germany (the {{Funetik Aksent}}; a strict Protestant-like approach to religion). Porphyry is Africa, with traits of Arabia (including pygegyria, something very like bellydancing, but more acrobatic), and Greece (all those philosophers, plus the fact that it's a city-state).
* FantasyPantheon: The main religion of the Southlands, Allsaints, which consists of large number of Saints presiding over their distinctive areas, traits and attributes. Children will be assigned a particular patron Saint in their infancy. The Saints have official biographies, but these tend to contradict folk tales and myths. Some of the Saints do seem to have historic roots, such as St. Ogdo who supposedly invented the martial art called Dracomachia.
* FounderOfTheKingdom: Belondweg, the first queen of Goredd, who has an almost mythic status and is the subject of the national epic.
* TheFundamentalist: The Sons of St. Ogdo, Lady Corongi and Princess Dionne, at least where dragons are concerned.
* {{Geeky Turn On}}: Seraphina and Kiggs bond over ancient philosophers and dragon lore.
* GoingNative: Dragons are discouraged from this, and punished with a memory-wipe if evidence comes to the Censors.
* {{Half Human Hybrid}}: Seraphina and the seventeen people in her visions.
* HeavenAndHell: Heaven is the abode of Allsaints, and the location of the afterlife.
* TheHeretic: Oddly, St. Yirtrudis, whose motto is 'No heaven but this', despite presumably having been worshipped along with the other Saints at one point. All of her images in psalters, chapels and the like are destroyed.
* HumanShifting: Dragons can only transform into their own human form, called a saarantras (saarantrai for plural, saar for short).
* KissingCousins: First cousins Prince Lucian and Princess Glisselda of Goredd are engaged.
* {{Like Brother And Sister}}: After finding out that they are both half-dragons, Lars treats Seraphina as his little sister.
* MagicPants: Averted. When Orma and Basind are ordered to shrink back into their saarantrai in the freezing snow, Seraphina reminds Lucian that the dragons have no clothes to protect themselves from the cold.
* MemoryWipingCrew: The Censors are this for dragons.
* TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody: While dragons still retain their near-eidetic memories, pedantry, and innate logical processing, they can be affected by the intense human emotions of their saarantras.
* MyInstinctsAreShowing: Dragons are prohibited from eating meat in human form so their carnivore instincts donít lead to unfortunate consequences for the humans around the table...
* {{Nonhuman Lover Reveal}}: Seraphina's human father found this out in the worst possible way: by seeing his wife's silver dragon blood as she died in childbirth.
** [[spoiler: Seraphina confesses her parentage to Kiggs in the middle of a life-or-death situation, having to repeat herself to convince him she's not bluffing.]]
* OhMyGods: Most exclamations refer to the many Saints - often incorporating rhyme - or Allsaints in general. St. Daan is usually used for this purpose because the patron saint of romantic love isn't likely to take offence.
* ProudScholarRaceGuy: Dragons.
* PsychicPowers: It turns out that Seraphina and other half-dragons each have some ability beyond the pale. Okra Carmine, for instance, has gut feelings that have always helped her be in the right place at the right time. [[spoiler: And what Seraphina thinks of as her "mind garden" is actually more like a shared psychic dreamspace that only half-dragons can exist in.]]
* {{Royals Who Actually Do Something}}: Queen Lavonda put her life on the line in her youth to negotiate a peace with Admagar Comonot, trekking up a dangerous mountain pass with only two guides, and she continues to put a lot of energy into keeping peace with the dragons for the next forty years; Glisselda learns everything she can about how to run her future kingdom [[spoiler: and declares war on the Tanamoot when they've already broken the peace]]; and Kiggs is a military captain with a reputation for investigative talent.
* SlowTransformation: Dragonís muscles are soft, and their wings incapable of flight for the first few minutes after transformation.
* {{Sugar and Ice Personality}}: Seraphina's uncle Orma and, to a lesser degree, Seraphina herself.
* {{Sand In My Eyes}}: [[spoiler: Orma, anticipating that the Censors will remove his memories of his sister and niece.]]
---> '''Seraphina:''' I want to say goodbye to you [[spoiler: while you still know me.]]
---> '''Orma:''' ... My apologies. This body's ridiculous larynx seized up. It's functioning normally again.
* {{Tactful Translation}}: When Orma arrives in response to Seraphina's distress signal, only to realize that the danger is already gone, Seraphina translates his angry outburst of dragon-speech ("Tell me why I shouldn't bite your head off") into something more civilized for Kiggs' benefit ("We will comply with your every reasonable demand").
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman?: The Sons of St. Ogdo, as well the dogma of Allsaints in general, follow the belief that dragons and half-dragons are soulless and evil. Even Seraphina admits that she is repulsed by the more nonhuman avatars in her garden, and feels the most affection for the ones who have normal physical appearances.