Scales is the second book in Alexzander Christion’s By The Hand of Dragons series, a dark adult fantasy series about a young dragon named Shefa and his quest to become the best lord and protector of Fuumashion he can. Of course, many things are going to stand in his way, including the very animals themselves, potential allies, and others.
1. Thoughts on the plot
Now, just a note. I have not read these books in chronological order. I read them in the order of publication, which means I read AlinGuard (book 3), then Rook (book 1), then Blood of the Lunacorn (sort of an in between novella), then Saber, and finally Scales. So I will admit to being a little lost when it came to where this book came in on the story line. There were characters I had to place again, and I had to remember just where our young dragon was on his journey. And, given that there has been more than a year between my last read of this series, it took me a minute to figure out what was going on. (Don’t be like me, read them in order.)
Once I did figure out what was going on, however, everything began to fit together, mesh in a way that I see but rarely in books this complex and intricate. The plot of these novels is always singular. It seems like events that have nothing to do with one another happen in succession, until you reach a critical point and everything falls together, creating a plot that just works, in the slightly magical way that a Rube-Goldberg machine of epic proportions just works.
2. Thoughts on the characters
See note above regarding my reading order. And again, once I figured out where our characters were in this journey, they fit much more than before. Shefa is, as always, a character to enjoy reading. Neither a hero nor a villain, he is merely dragon: not to be trifled with. His goals do not always make sense on the surface, and he is most certainly learning about himself, his world, and his own limitations. Surrounded by his Crown Jewels, which are equally fascinating to read, the characters are like a symphony of what might happen when given such power.
3. Favourite part
My favourite part of this book (and all these books, frankly) is the prose. It is purple, have no doubt, but it makes sense, and it is beautiful, and it is sometimes profound. How something so intense and dark can be so myriad and stunning is an art I appreciate very much.
My only critique is to do with my brain, the things I had forgotten and didn’t remember from previous books, and the fact that I really should have read these in a slightly more logical order. Ah, well. I sorted it out eventually.
Overall, Scales is another example of a great work of dark fantasy with elements of grimdark and shining magic, exceptional prose, and a story that will take you on a wild ride. A great book.