Once dragons dominated the planet of Azeroth. It was a wild, untamed land of natural beauty and danger. But then the Titans came and offered magic to the dragons. In return, the dragons would have to swear oaths to work with the Titans to protect Azeroth. Some of the dragons accepted this offer and became known as “Ordered” dragons, others scorned the very idea and remained “Primal” dragons. At first, the two groups existed peacefully enough. But eventually, prejudice, fear, and hate arose and changed everything. Join Vyranoth as she struggles to remain neutral and just live her life in War of the Scaleborn by Courtney Alameda, inspired by the World of Warcraft world.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that Penguin Random House has provided it to me to review. Warning: My review of this book contains some spoilers!]
Two very different sides to this fantasy novel
Vyranoth is a Primal dragon and she loves her wild, untamed life. She looks at Azeroth, her home, and sees nothing but wild beauty. Her best friend is Alexstrasza, the queen of the Ordered dragons. She looks around at what her dragons have built and sees safety and security for the citizens of Azeroth. Both believe that the other is missing the point. Vyranoth thinks things are perfect the way they are, and Alexstrasza thinks that everything can use a little help. Vyranoth sees infringement on freedom, and Alexstrasza sees companionable compromise.
At first, the two try to stay friends but as time passes, and the Ordered dragons bring about more changes in Azeroth, this becomes more and more difficult. Then the “Incarnates” rise. These are Primal dragons that have found a magic source connected to nature instead of the Titans. The Incarnates are in direct opposition to the Ordered dragons. And they aren’t content to just live and let live. A war is brewing. Vyranoth wants to remain out of it but she is a powerful dragon and neither side is willing to let her stay neutral. A war between dragons will have devastating consequences for all of Azeroth, but is there any way to avoid war when lines are drawn this deep?
More politics than you would think in War of the Scaleborn
War of the Scaleborn seems like it would all be fierce battles and intense actions, I mean it’s dragons! But it was really more of a political book. Both sides make carefully thought-out plans and calculated decisions. There are a few rash dragons but they are manipulated and controlled by more powerful dragons that reign in their impulsive actions.
Dragons are usually thought of as cunning creatures and Alameda certainly depicts them that way. The problem is that there’s just too much behind-the-scenes politicking and not enough actual action. The majority of the book is spent watching dragons think, talk, and plan, with very little actually being done. It made the overall book a little boring. The layers upon layers of manipulation and scheming make a nice build-up, it just takes way too long. Dragons may live for hundreds of years but I don’t and I need my action to happen just a little bit faster.
Great for World of Warcraft fans
Fans of WoW will love War of the Scaleborn. It’s always exciting to read stories set in places that we have come to love from another source. Dragons are always exciting and having a story that focuses on them and their home is something that WoW fans will really enjoy. The nice backstory to how the different types of dragons came into existence and why they remain separate will be tantalizing for WoW players.
Those who don’t have experience with World of Warcraft will still enjoy War of the Scaleborn if political books are their thing. The dragons are highly intelligent tacticians with a vicious streak that makes their plans especially brutal. Working through their manipulations is fascinating, thinking on the scale of centuries is mind-boggling. Chess players and fans of the long game will especially enjoy this book.
Enjoyable for the right readers
War of the Scaleborn isn’t going to appeal to all fantasy fans. We’ve come to associate dragons with intelligence and wisdom, but also with action and excitement. I think that the pace of War of the Scaleborn is just a bit slow for most fantasy fans.
That being said, readers who revel in planning and slow burns will get a lot of enjoyment out of Iridikron’s and Neltharion’s care dance. The quiet implementation of hidden mechanisms and secret plans gives War of the Scaleborn a special flavor that certain people will find very enjoyable.
Overall, war game fans will love War of the Scaleborn, but most fantasy fans will probably want to skip it, even with the dragons.
My Rating: 6/10
War of the Scaleborn: A World of Warcraft novel by Courtney Alameda is available now! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on reading this novel!