A classic Hartman book is, by definition now, simply a classic. The first two Seraphina books put racial tensions and religion on center-stage alongside love, self-acceptance, and roots and results of hatred to save the world and bring peace to humans and Dragons. Tess of the Road was a journey out of choking self-despair born from rape and fought uphill against religious-based oppression of women and mental manipulation, a journey not only the World Serpent of legend but also, without knowing it, a way to face her demons and love herself again while being herself.
In the Serpent's Wake continued Tess' journey and, like spark to tinder, she set the fires of truth ablaze (in addition to some actual fires) by doing what is right instead of what is easy while sailing archipelagos suffering colonization and all the oppression that implies. A journey of facing down the last of her demons, seeking forgiveness when necessary, showing those blind to the truth that comfortable neutrality and denial allows human evils to flourish; and, of course, finding the Polar Serpent to save a friend.
Farewell and lots of love to Tess and Seraphina Dombegh, Pathka, Kikiu, Jacomo & Marga, Hami & Spira, and all of native nations of the archipelagos. Luck to you as you continue your own stories.