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Rachel Hartman Books In Order

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Publication Order of Seraphina Books

Publication Order of Tess of the Road Books

Tess of the Road (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
In the Serpent's Wake (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Rachel Hartman is an American artist of comics and author of young adult fantasy books best known for her Seraphina and Tess of the Road series. She was born in Kentucky but lived in numerous places including Lexington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Kentucky, St. Louis, Japan, and England. She graduated with a BA in Comparative Literature from Washington University. Her debut novel, Seraphina won William C. Morris Award in 2013 for being the best young adult novel published in the United States by a debut author. The novel also won Cybils Award in 2012 for the best science fiction or young adult fantasy book. The second book in Seraphina series, Shadow Scale, was featured in New York Times Best Seller List for being the best young adult novel in its first week of eligibility.
Hartman lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her family- husband and son. When not writing, you’ll find her playing role-playing games, reading, and playing the cello.


The first book in Seraphina series is set a world based Renaissance Europe; it’s both a tale of war between two species and a coming of age story. The heroine of the story is 16-year-old Seraphina Dombegh, the daughter of a dragon mother and a human father and the secret of her mother is one that she must hide regardless of the cost.

In this world that Rachel Hartman has created, dragons are logical and emotionless species that can take human shape, and in doing so, they can experience human emotions something which they guard against without hesitation. A treaty exists between the human and dragons, but there is plenty of tension. Most dragons in Goredd, which is Seraphina’s country, are supposed to wear bells on their shoulder, but the scholarly dragons are exempted. From Seraphina’s storytelling, we come to learn that her father Claude didn’t know that his wife was a dragon until the day when she died when giving birth to Seraphina. At first instance, Seraphina seemed to be a normal baby, and it was not until she was eleven when she found out that she’s not what she thought she was. She also discovered that her father’s friend Orma was a dragon. Seeing Orma in his dragon form exploded the cache memory that Seraphina’s mom had consigned to her.
As the 40th anniversary of the interspecies truce approaches, lush celebrations are underway. Seraphina becomes assistant music mistress to the composer, and her hands are soon full with occasion preparations.

But just a few days before the celebration, Prince Rufus is killed by a dragon- or was the crime scene staged to make other people think that the dragon killed him to overthrow the human-dragon treaty? The handsome Prince Lucian, the captain of the Queen’s Guard, requests Seraphina to help him in solving the murder puzzle, thanks to her knowledge in dragon matters. Even worse, Lucian girlfriend Princess Glisselda suddenly wants to be Seraphina’s best friend. Can Seraphina keep her secret safe and uncover the killer in time and help preserve the two species harmony.

For a first- time author, Rachel Hartman created a complex world as the setting of her book. In general, the book is based on Renaissance Europe when all form of technology from simple lead pencils to the complicated radio transmitters come from the scholarly dragon. The humans are highly religious, superstitious, and not advanced. The characters speak using the figure of speech and proverbs that are analogous to our language, but they are able to evoke complex lore that feels strongly satisfying. There is the talk of philosophy, art, love, religion, the importance of dance and music, what it means to be a dragon and a human as well as other themes especially of acceptance- being accepted by others and accepting oneself.

The characterization is wonderfully done from the main characters to the supporting cast. The side characters and the antagonist are equally interesting as their main counterpart. It’s to be noted that Rachel Hartman had originally written about the kingdom of Goredd in a graphic novel titled Amy Unbounded. In an interview, she admitted that she faced difficulties drawing dragons, and as a result, she opted to make them transform to humans for easier illustrations. The reception of Seraphina series was positive with the debut novel gaining starred reviews from different review websites. The Center for Children’s books also listed the book. the book has also been a finalist and won several awards.

Tess of the Road

Tess of the Road is the debut novel in a series by the same name that introduces the reader to Tess, a brave heroine from the ever-creative fantasy writer Rachel Hartman. In the Kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies while men are expected to be protectors, while the dragons can be whomever they want. Tess is a stubborn troublemaker. You cannot make a scene at your sister’s wedding then break a relative’s nose with a single punch and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her away to a nunnery, Tess has her plans already figured out and sets out on a journey across the Southlands with a new identity and pretending to be a boy.

Where she’s headed is a mystery even to Tess herself. So when she crosses path with an old friend, it’s luck. This old acquaintance- a subspecies of dragon gives Tess protection and a purpose on the road. But Tess is guarding a very troubling secret, and her dark past is a heavy burden on her shoulders and the memories she’s tried to threaten to expose her to the world in ways she’s never anticipated.

Making a comeback in the intriguing world she created in the award-winning and bestselling novel Seraphina, Rachel Hartman again introduces us to a new character and a new quest. This is a character-driven fantasy novel about people, relationships, and a broken woman’s life. The magic in the story is limited such that if you took out the few fantastical elements- such as quigutl and the dragons- the book could easily be classified to be historical or contemporary fiction.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Rachel Hartman

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