An exceptional young adult fantasy novel, with an impressive combination of creativity, humor, adventure, disaster, and wisdom. Some of the early chapters have a bit of Jane Austen feel, with the satire on the need for marriage. The focus after that is on a headstrong, selfish teenager leaving her family to find her independence. While this is the third book in the series, it can easily be read independently, since the main character in the previous two books is only a minor character in this one.
Tess Dombegh is a twin, one of the children of a disgraced lawyer in the semi-medieval kingdom of Goredd. Her older half-sister, Seraphina (the lead character of the first two books) is half-dragon, -- which caused the disgrace for her father. Tess and her sister Jeanne are the products of an unhappy second marriage. Tess becomes pregnant at 15 by a university student, who then left town. After spending two years helping Jeanne find a husband, Tess then nearly ruins the wedding by punching the groom’s brother in the nose. Tess disguises herself as a boy and runs off. While traveling, she runs across an old friend – a quigutl named Pathka. Quigutls are smaller dragon cousins which few humans have bothered to learn to communicate with. Tess and Pathka head off on a quest to seek the World Serpents, important beasts in the quigutl mythology.