With the dragons in the midst of civil war, the kingdom of Goredd which borders the Tanamoot (dragon land) is preparing for the inevitable war. Having born the brunt of the conflict with dragons in the past, Goredd and its new Queen know they need allies to survive this time around. Seraphina, our heroine, is the one discharged by Queen Glisselda to gather allies since she also is secretly looking for her half-dragon kin, called ityasaari. Her other personal mission is to find her Uncle Orma, who may have been captured by dragon Censors and had his memory wiped. Phina fears for him, not wanting their relationship and love to be erased forever. While she is to be gone, Ardmagar Comonot, the former leader of the dragons, is trying to do his best to help Goredd with the dragons on his side.
Accompanied by Abdo and, for a time, Dame Olga, Seraphina journeys to the kingdoms of Ninys, Samsam, and Poryphry to find the other ityasaari who have inhabited her mind garden, hoping that when they all get together they can protect Goredd with a special ityasaari magic. However, one ityasaari continues to haunt her. Jannoula, the one she locked out of her mind, has been plaguing Seraphina since she was a child, and Seraphina fears running into her whilst searching for the other half-dragons. After two early successes, Seraphina finds Jannoula inhabiting another of the ityasaari and that she is starting to assault all of their minds. Though Jannoula says she is on Seraphina’s side in wanting to reunite all the ityasaari in Goredd, our heroine is wary of Jannoula’s trickery. As Seraphina meets more ityasaari and finds Jannoula’s influence everywhere, she begins to close herself off and lose some of the people closest to her. Even Abdo and Lars are not immune to Jannoula.
As Seraphina grows more and more desperate and the destruction of the southern kingdoms is imminent, she comes to realize only she can stop Jannoula’s deceit and chaos, but it comes at a heavy price as even those most dear to her are under Jannoula’s spell.
While the worldbuilding and epic adventure of this novel is amazing, there are a few things that just fall short of the first novel. First, Jannoula, perhaps by her very nature, attempts to overpower the novel, and even more of the action occurs in Seraphina’s head. Second, the romance and relationship building is sadly absent. We’re left in stasis from Seraphina’s secret love with Prince Lucian Kiggs, though we do witness them interact a little bit. As this was a big influence in the first novel, missing it in the second leaves us an unfulfilled gap in the otherwise rich storytelling. I loved the transformation for Seraphina in this book. In the first, she learned to accept her heritage. Here, she owns her gifts and uniqueness to help others though she is frightened of being different. Another thing I loved was how Seraphina began to really embrace diverse friendships and make them strong, like the bond she formed with Abdo. Diversity in this novel was subtle but there, an undercurrent that shows itself in small but impactful ways. We have Abdo, who obviously has a physical disability; Tiny Tom who has a mental disability; Camba who is transgender; and one key character who shall remain nameless but who is homosexual. Not to mention, Seraphina and all of her fellow ityasaari along with the quigs fulfill the diversity of race. All in all, while not quite living up to its predecessor, it is a solid 4 out of 5 in all other aspects. I couldn’t put it down despite it’s great length–608 pages!