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 boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to 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. This 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 tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.
Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.
This book is one that I've been itching to read, and itching to blog about, since it's announcement last year. I initially read Seraphina and Shadow Scale a little while back, Rachel Hartman's first series set in Goredd, and I really enjoyed the world and its characters. I was really excited to revisit Rachel Hartman's world, this time in the shoes of Tess, Seraphina's younger half sister. Through Tess' eyes we're able to see everything through a new perspective. We come to understand Tess as not the troublemaker and a drunk as her whole family believes her to be, but as someone deeply wounded from scars from her past. We also find that there's much more to the world of Goredd than we were able to glean from Seraphina. Tess' childhood friend Pathka, a quigutl, became our unconventional and surprisingly wise guide along the road.
Over the course of our journey with Tess I found myself enjoying the change of pace from the Seraphina books. While Goredd is a land full of dragons and adventure, Tess of the Road is an adventure about healing old wounds, resolving old grief, and "walking on," all while finding a giant magical world serpent along the way. I definitely recommend this book to any fan of fantasy or even anyone who likes a good and uplifting emotional journey. While Tess of the Road is set in Goredd and references people and places familiar to the Seraphina books, that does not mean that you have to read those first, so no worries, if it sounds interesting to you, go read!