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Publisher's Summary

Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess is none of these things. Tess is...different. She speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can't seem to keep out of trouble. Then Tess goes too far. What she's done is so disgraceful, she can't even allow herself to think of it. Unfortunately, the past cannot be ignored. So Tess's family decide the only path for her is a nunnery.

But on the day she is to join the nuns, Tess chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. She's not running away, she's running towards something. What that something is, she doesn't know. Tess just knows that the open road is a map to somewhere else - a life where she might belong.

Returning to the spellbinding world of the Southlands she created in the award-winning, New York Times best-selling novel Seraphina, Rachel Hartman explores self-reliance and redemption in this wholly original fantasy.  

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2018 Rachel Hartman (P)2018 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"In her triumphant return to the world of Seraphina (2012), Hartman introduces Tess Dombegh, one of Seraphina’s stepsiblings.... This is a perfect example of a familiar fantasy trope being given new dimension through empathetic characters and exquisite storytelling. At first appearing bitter and self-pitying, Tess reveals compassion, courage, and resilience on her journey, which is as emotional and spiritual as it is physical. This achingly real portrayal of a young woman whose self-loathing takes help to heal is a perceptive examination of rape culture rare in high fantasy. Not to be ignored, this is also a fascinating road trip adventure. Absolutely essential." (Booklist)

"Hartman returns to Goredd with the tale of another young woman who breaks the rules in search of herself. Now 17, haunted by past mistakes, immersed in self-denial and the need to follow 'proper' behavior, white Tess - who once befriended lizardlike Quigutl and secretly attended lectures - is miserable. Angry, bitter Tess has reason for her feelings but is not always easy to walk with, and the slow reveal of her past makes for a compelling read on the ways in which girls - in the quasi-Renaissance Goredd and also in the real world - are taught to take blame on themselves even when others are culpable. Like Tess' journey, surprising, rewarding, and enlightening, both a fantasy adventure and a meta discourse on consent, shame, and female empowerment." (Kirkus Reviews)

  "[Narrator Katharine] McEwan handles the many invented words and the lisping speech of Tess's quig friend, Pathka, with aplomb. McEwan is an empathetic guide as Tess begins an epic journey both literal and emotional, one that gradually exposes the roots of her anger and hurt. Tess's journey is deeply affecting, and listeners will be glad to have traveled the road with her." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic character arc!

I loved this book! It would be especially illuminating for teenage girls and younger women, not because of the level of the writing but because of the personal growth the main character goes through. I've read books with a similar coming of age theme about boys dozens of times, but rarely do books about female characters get this deeply revealing of the burdens women bear especially in repressive societies. There are also fun linguistics and interspecies communication details. One of the fantasy books I've enjoyed the most in recent years!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent!

Wonderful coming of age story. I especially enjoyed walking along side Tess while she grew into a beautiful and confident young woman.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Tess of the Road

I love the narrator so much so I had to listen to this! I do think it's about 100 pages too long and some parts of the plot didn't seem necessary but I love how much emotion and growth in Tess's journey and also Pathka being one amazing creature! If you love more character stories and great writing you'll enjoy this :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fanstinkimgtastic

Deep
Intuitive
Covered a wide breadth of emotion, thought, and senses.
Resonant
I am grateful

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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So much more than I expected

Just read it. It’s so good. I expected a fantasy adventure story. And it was. But also so much more. Feminist in that difficult way that challenges systems. More than just a story about a girl with a sword. (though I really like stories about girls with swords)While also being about finding healing in a world that doesn’t think you deserve it.

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Beautiful coming of age story, perfectly narrated

While I was certainly entertained by Seraphina, the follow up book was fairly disappointing. Neither prepared me for the wonder that is this book. It is one of the most beautifully philosophic renderings of a flawed narrator I have ever read. Where was this book when I was 17? I was so deeply moved by Tess' mental, moral, and physical journey that I was embarrassingly brought to tears walking down the street listening to it. The narrator is spot on perfect, but I've already ordered the book as well because it's clearly a title that needs rereading.

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miscief and philosophy rolled into one

lots of clever observations on the adventures of an unlikely hero. Fun well fleshed out characters.

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Beautiful coming of age story

I am so glad that I decided to get this book. I found the story a beautiful tale of coming of age, finding yourself and the power that connecting with others brings. As the book unfolds you get to know Tess, to understand the life events that shaped her reality at an early age. I loved her character and being part of her journey. Can't wait for the next one.

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A Fascinating Adventure . I listened twice

The characters and plot are engaging and compelling. My second listening experience was filled with details and nuances missed the first time. The ending is satisfying but I hope Tess's adventure continues in a second book. She is a character I would like to learn more about and her next adventure would certainly include the sea with a new and expanded set of characters, cultures and continents.
Thank You Ms Hartman for a great read/listen and wonderful narration by Ms McEwan

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  • MB
  • 05-10-18

wast of money and time

This book is super boring and jumps around so it was hard to follow. Couldn't finish.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-27-18

I want the next one

In some ways this doesn't have narrative push of the others.,however great read and hoping for more