I was surprised when I received a copy of Rachel Hartman’s Shadow Scale in the mail. I’d sent a request for an ARC after seeing a giveaway in a Shelf Awareness newsletter. Once I got it, I delayed reading. I knew that if I started reading immediately, I’d probably get stuck in a fantasy rut and forget about completing Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before, a book on habits. Also, I had to reread Seraphina, the first in the series to acclimate myself to the story once again. I even read the prequel, The Audition, though it didn’t add much to the story, I find. But reading the books back-to-back helped me to keep up with the story.
Re-reading Seraphina made me appreciate the story more. Though I enjoyed my first read, I didn’t find the story fulfilling because I rushed through it. This time I read quickly but also paid attention and thus grew to admire both Hartman’s world building and Seraphina’s strength and gumption. These elements are heightened in Shadow Scale, which is adventurous where Seraphina is more introspective. The adventures Seraphina embarks on while searching for the half-dragons requires her to draw on all her skills and also exposes the foundation of Hartman’s world of dragons.
A quick recount: (spoilers)
Shadow Scale picks up a few months after the events is Seraphina. The dragon civil war is in full swing. Demands have been made for the Comonot to return to Tanamoot to be excised and punished but Princess Glisselda refuses to turn him over, which places Goredd in danger of a dragon attack. Since Goredd doesn’t have much dracomachia machines, or many men knowledgeable in fighting dragons, they are at a disadvantage. Therefore the Princess, Prince Lucian, and Seraphina were all happy when Orma sent a note detailing a weapon that ityasaaris (a.k.a. half-dragons) can wield to fight the dragons and protect Goredd. The weapon requires that the ityasaaris link their minds using their mind-fire, the source of the special abilities. After having Abdo and Lars test a small version of it, the Princess consents to Seraphina’s search for the ityasaaris she encountered in her mind to bring them to Goredd to help with the war. With the consent, Seraphina hopes to make real the garden she has created in her mind.