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Shadow Scale    by Rachel Hartman order for
Shadow Scale
by Rachel Hartman
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Shadow Scale follows Seraphina as the second book in Rachel Hartman's exciting YA fantasy series. The first episode told of the coming of age of Seraphina, a gifted musician and a young woman of mixed race, in the kingdom of Gored where unions between humans and dragons are viewed with absolute horror.

Humans and dragons live uneasily together in Gored, mistrust slipping easily into hatred. Seraphina was raised as a human, her dragon scales kept hidden, but tutored by her beloved uncle Orma, a dragon scholar, who taught her about dragonkind as well as music. Seraphina has long struggled with visions - of seventeen different people in far-off places, misfits who share her draconic heritage.

In the first episode, Seraphina entered court circles as assistant to court composer Viridius. She taught Princess Glisselda the harpsichord, and attracted the interest of bastard Prince Lucian Kiggs, captain of the Queen's Guard and Glisselda's fiancÚ. That attraction was mutual though they hid it for love of Glisselda.

As the first episode ended, Seraphina's nature became known and young Glisselda was forced to take the throne after her mother's assassination, Lucian and Seraphina aiding her as best they could. Dragons went to war with each other, rebel dragons intending to wipe humanity from the Southlands.

Now in Shadow Scale, Glisselda sends Seraphina on a quest to gather together the half-breeds of her visions, hoping to use their talents to aid Gored's cause. Orma has advised his niece that the half-dragons should be able to thread their minds together to create a strong defense against attacking dragons.

But one of the half-breeds is working against Seraphina, the one she tried hardest to help. And Jannoula is very powerful indeed, able to take over other half-dragons' minds and wills - and to persuade humans that she is a Saint (as half-dragons used to be viewed).

Though this convoluted tale is at times hard to follow, it's well worth sticking with it to its powerful ending. Not only does Seraphina end a war, but Rachel Hartman solves her young lead's love triangle in an unusual, inventive and delightful fashion. She also has Seraphina tell us what her role in life is ... 'I do what I have always done ... I reach across and bring the worlds together.'

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