Review of Scorpica (The Five Queendoms) by G.R Macallister

In an ancient matriarchal world of magic, gods and warriors, the last girl – unbeknownst to the five Queendoms – has just been born. As time marches on, the scribes of Bastian find no answers in their history books. The farmers of Sestia sacrifice their crops to the gods. Paxim, the empire of trade and dealings has nothing to barter but boys and more boys. Arcan magic has no spells to remedy the Drought of Girls, as it soon becomes known. And finally, Scorpia, where every woman is a fighter, their commander, their Queen, has no more warriors to train. The lines of these once-great empires soon to die.

After centuries of peace, the ensuing struggle for dominance – and heirs – will bring the Five Queendoms to the eve of all-out war.

But the mysterious curse is linked to one of the last-born children, an orphaned all-magic girl, on the run from the Seekers of Daybreak Palace, who is unaware she has a claim to the Arcan throne…

“Speaking with confidence does not mean one speaks the truth”

When you think of epic fantasy I expect you’ll think of old white male authors rehashing the same old tropes and a woman’s place is to be either rescued or have something else beginning with R happen to her. So when i describe Scorpica as an epic fantasy, I do so with a little trepidation. But it’s time to reclaim that description because honestly an epic, sweeping, all encompassing fantasy is what G R Macallister has created, and the women rule. 

I had to admit that when the first couple of chapters didn’t quite pull me in I did put the book aside as I think i knew i wasn’t quite ready for a book of this type. But when I picked it back up again I devoured it, as Scorpica is a book that rewards you for a binge read. Multiple characters, locations and times all seamlessly melded together as each arm intertwined with another at just the right moment. The passage of time carefully crafted to ensure that 

Scorpica doesn’t shy away from what it needs to be to stand out in a male dominated genre, yes it is graphically and brutally violent at times, but also it captures a tenderness, a mothers love and sacrifice, women finding release without being branded whores, and cunning being rewarded rather than being seen as conniving. In short if you want to immerse yourself in a world of strong and incredible women this is where you need to go.

Aside from creating an outstanding world, the characters have depth and face some interesting life questions. What if being a queen isn’t all its cracked up to be?  At what point can you turn back on a poor decision and hope it’s not too late? When does duty and a promise outweigh personal happiness? What happens when men believe the tide is turning? These moral back and forths and decisions which impact upon sometimes one, and other times many, are the magical thread woven between the women and the Queendoms, all breathing, pulsing in and out from each sun rite.

I can’t wait for the next book in the series and I hope we get to discover what happened to another young girl who found herself at the orphan tree.

Scorpica, The Five Queendoms is out in the UK on 22nd February through Titan Books

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