Book Review: Scorpica by G.R. Macallister
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book1 of The Five Queendoms
Publisher: Saga Press (February 22, 2022)
Length: 448 pages
Author Information: Website
Here’s what I’ll first say about Scorpica: I was glad I went in knowing very little about it, because I came out on the other side of it with my mind completely blown! This is the perfect example of a book where having almost no knowledge about the story or its themes before starting helped a lot; free from the weight of any preconceptions or expectations, I simply let myself be carried along for the ride and swept up into its world of magic and intrigue.
To begin, readers are transported to a realm ruled by five queendoms, each with its own specialty. For example, the titular land of Scorpica is known for its fierce warrior women. Arca, on the other hand, is famous for magic, while Bastion’s reputation is for its dedication to the scholarly arts and pursuits. Then there’s Sestia, its fertile lands making them natural agricultural specialists, and finally Paxim, a bustling hub for tradecraft and diplomacy. For centuries, peace has existed among these queendoms despite the vast differences between their people’s cultural values and their society, simply because the queens that rule have always recognized the mutual benefits that comes with balance and reciprocity.
But soon, it appears that this precarious balance is about to come to an end, with a phenomenon that is being called the Drought of Girls. What this means is that fewer girls are being born each year, and it’s a complete mystery as to why it’s happening, even if each queendom may have its own theories. What’s clear enough for everyone though, is that for a matriarchal society, the lack of baby girls will have severe and devastating implications for the future of the entire realm.
With a plotline that allows readers a glimpse into the events unfolding across all the queendoms and from multiple perspectives, there were a lot of characters to keep track of, but fortunately it never got overwhelming, mainly because all the POVs were interesting and memorable. Through the eyes of these characters, the world around them also started to emerge, and in this way, we got to learn more about the five queendoms—their histories, traditions, customs, etc.
Indeed, I thought the world-building was perhaps one of the novel’s greatest strengths. G.R. Macallister is also a pen name of historical fiction author Greer Macallister, who is dipping into epic fantasy for the first time with Scorpica, but her experience with her main genre was clearly an asset. The scope of this story and its world is huge, and here we’re probably only grazing the surface. It probably won’t come as a surprise, given its title, but the majority of this book focused on the land of Scorpica and its internal power struggles, and I imagine we will eventually see the same treatment for each of the four other queendoms in future installments.
Macallister also did a fantastic job with her characters, and because I would hate to inadvertently reveal any spoilers by detailing names and specifics, I’ll just say there were plenty of surprises and plot twists that kept the cast list evolving constantly. And yes, I suppose there also may be some truth in comparisons made between Scorpica and Game of Thrones. With that said though, I appreciated the way time transitioned in this novel and the fact that character actions would directly impact the world—meaning everyone had a role to play, no matter how small.
All told, I enjoyed myself immensely with Scorpica, a lushly written and character-driven gem of an epic fantasy novel that will undoubtedly end up on my highlights list of 2022. I’m very excited to continue The Five Queendoms series and am looking forward to the next book.