5

I read it as a paperback around 2009ish. There are at least two books in the series. In the first book, we learn that the protagonist lives up in the mountains. Her people are distrusted by the people in the plains, and I think have either dark or olive skin. She leaves home to learn magic, something I think is rare in the world she lives in. When she arrives, there's a crazy power-hungry man at her destination and she has to hide who she is because otherwise he'd have her killed to prevent her from surpassing him. At some point, she winds up in a set of chambers set into the mountain where she finds a pool of water and carvings about dragons. Somehow, this leads into her learning to become a dragon, I think perhaps after meeting one. I want to say that the sequel got into her having dreams that turn out to be partly prophetic and partly communication.

One of the reasons the book sticks out in my memory is that, despite the mentions of the protagonists dusky skin, the cover depicts a fair-skinned blonde girl, I think holding a glowing globe of light.

7

This is "First Truth" by Dawn Cook. The book's protagonist (Alissa) gradually learns to shapeshift into called a raku, basically a dragon.

Alissa doesn't believe in magic. Her father's stories about the Hold, a legendary fortress where human Keepers learn magic from the enigmatic Maters, are just that―stories. But her mother insists that Alissa has inherited her father's magical ability, and so she must go to the Hold―the only place her talents can be trained.

On her way, she crosses paths with Strell, a wandering musician from the plains. And though Alissa is not sure she can trust a plainsman, Strell has something she needs―one of her father's old maps. Travelling together, they can reach the Hold before the snow sets in.

But they don't know that the Hold is nearly empty. Something is very wrong and someone believes that Alissa and Strell knows about a book called First Truth.


You can compare the in-book description with the book cover below;

Everyone born in the foothills had blue eyes, fair skin, and light hair. It was glaringly obvious that Alissa wasn’t a proper farm girl. She looked too much like her plains-​born mother. And though Alissa’s hair and eyes were as fair as her papa’s, she had her mother’s height and dark skin. Alissa didn’t look enough like plains or foothills to be accepted by either, so was scorned and hated by both.

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