Author: Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina, #2
**I received a copy of this book through NetGalley which does not affect my review**
While the machinations of the exiled dragon Imlann were thwarted in Seraphina, it set off a chain reaction that thrust dragonkind into a civil war. For better or for worse, Goredd is being pulled into the conflict, siding with Ardmagar Comonot, as his Generals back in the Tanamoot, calling themselves the Old Ard, attempt a coup. When the dragon Orma discovers there may be a way to defend the kingdom with the help of half-dragons, Seraphina must use her ability to connect with others like herself and find them before the conflict spills into all of the Southlands.
It’s been two and a half years since the release of Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina and my expectations for the sequel were very high, especially when considering how awe-struck I was after rereading the first book. While Shadow Scale once again demonstrates Hartman’s skill at world-building, I found the sequel less satisfying than its predecessor. The ending left me wanting something different and very aware of missed opportunities regarding several characters.
One of the issues I had with this book was its pacing. It wasn’t until all the characters had been assembled that the story really took off for me, so the beginning was rather slow. At times the conflict felt a little understated because many of the battles were psychological. Seraphina’s story send her away from Goredd and several important people in her life, including her uncle Orma. I felt his absence keenly and by the end of the book I didn’t feel the subplot involving him had been properly resolved. Because this book focuses heavily on Seraphina’s quest to find the other half-dragons, her other relationships were put on the back burner, much to my dismay.
Still, Shadow Scale provided a lot of interesting contrasting characters and worldviews. The small colony of Porphyry has treated dragons and half-dragons, called ityasaari, with a lot more respect and reverence than Goredd. Meeting other ityasaari is a humbling experience for Seraphina, whose own struggles seem minuscule compared to those worse off than herself. The ityasaari Jannoula is a dangerous mixture of honorable intentions and deceptive means. As different as she is from Seraphina, I could not help but consider the possibility that our protagonist might have taken a similar path if she didn’t have her music, Orma, and her friends’ love and acceptance.