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Arca by G. R. Macallister

Arca by G. R. Macallister is the second book of The Five Queendoms. If Scorpica introduced us to the queendoms and the powers at play within each territory and set up the Drought of Girls, the sequel is what happens to the queendoms after the drought ends. There is more than one power struggle happening due to a lack of matriarchal succession, only some of which involve the younger generation we met in the first book. In addition, we meet an entirely new cast of characters who are all part of the political machinations that make up this book.

Unfortunately, as much as I adored Scorpica, Arca left me decidedly less excited. For one thing, the pacing of the story is so uneven. We fast-forward in time with each chapter, something we know from each chapter heading. Within each chapter, time seems to move at random rates. In one chapter, we skip forward an entire month after one page but only move forward a few days throughout the rest. Months pass during another chapter, and a full year passes during yet another. I know that some of this is because the story’s scope is SO big that time cannot consistently flow without the story becoming thousands of pages. Yet, it doesn’t make for an engaging story, as the fluctuations keep taking you out of the story.

Another aspect of Arca that I did not enjoy was that there is a lot of world-building but a lack of character development. Some of the characters are incredibly one-dimensional for such an in-depth book. There are so many descriptive passages that it takes forever for anything to happen as well. Keep in mind that this book is almost 600 pages. Plenty of room exists to fully develop your characters, effectively describe your world, and keep the story exciting with that many pages. Except in Arca, it all seems to be missing.

I’m not blaming Ms. Macallister because Scorpica is brilliant. I know she can write a complex, fascinating, action-packed story. Arca has moments like that, but too often, it drags. The fault, in my opinion, lies with the editing and maybe a rush to publish such a large novel one year after the first book. Such grandiose stories take time, and I don’t think there was enough time between books to do so correctly. Sadly.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Arca because I did. It is still a great story despite its problems. The fact that the first book was amazing highlights the issues in the second. I still plan to continue the Five Queendoms saga because the premise is terrific. Seriously, there are so few opportunities to see women in power and running every aspect of a country. It does your heart good to watch them question a man’s ability to rule or participate in a military. For that reason alone, you need to jump at the chance to read this series. Despite my complaints, you won’t regret it!

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