Scorpica opens the door to what seems to be a very promising new fantasy series. G.R. Macallister has through one book created a very richly built world and diverse characters. Continue reading to get a more in-depth look at my thoughts on this first installment of The Five Queendoms series.
A centuries-long peace is shattered in a matriarchal society when a decade passes without a single girl being born in this sweeping epic fantasy that’s perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Circe.
Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.
Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Impressive. Often fantasy series can be overwhelming in the first installment. Names of people and places, while also information about the culture, history, and unique fantasy elements all inundate the reader. When reading I did not get that feeling. Little by little Macallister teaches the reader about the world without smacking us in the face with lists of important things to understand the plot.
The entire world, as we have seen it so far, is matriarchial, which I loved. Within the book, each culture or queendom regarded gender and sex differently. Whether it was a culture that considered a woman barren because she only ever gave birth to boys or if it is a culture where men are merely arm-candy, I enjoyed seeing ways that the matriarchal societies were conceived by Macallister.
Because the world was so large, Scorpica has so many characters. Overall Scorpica develops the characters well and where they weren’t there will be time in the following books. Macallister has created great depth in the characters. In a good way, the motivations and desires of the characters pull in multiple directions.
There is also quite a deal of diversity in the points of view of our narrators. Regardless of the fact that the narrators are from different queendoms, even within the queendoms they are not one hivemind. Each narrator has a very clear individuality.
Since this is the start of a series, I like to consider whether or not there will be a clear way forward for new books. There is so much left to explore, characters to develop, and in general aspects of the world that were not touched upon. Scorpica does not explore several of the queendoms as the narrative focuses on characters that are primarily from only two of the five.
I am excited to see how these characters and the world in general shape up. Scorpica provides a lot of potential for this series. I look forward to learning how the world expands and adjust to some pretty significant changes. As a stand-alone, this book does tick a lot of boxes, but I’m very glad this is just the start of Macallister’s The Five Queendoms series.