Books Fantasy Reviews

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart Review

Lin is the Emperor’s daughter, and so Lin should be the next Emperor. She’s the natural choice and should be the only choice. But a mysterious illness claimed Lin’s memories, and as much as she tries to prove she’s got what it takes to run the empire — the Emperor disagrees. Instead, it’s foster-son Bayan who enjoys the Emperor’s confidence, while Lin has to resort to spy-craft to garner scraps of information. It’s Bayan who’s gaining more and more keys to the many locked rooms of the palace, while Lin is finding herself excluded from lessons on bone shard magic.

Bone shard magic powers the empire. It keeps people in line and protects the empire against outside threats. It is judge, jury, and executioner. Or is that the Emperor who’s the puppet bone shard master? Yet bone shard magic is a dark and parasitical force as the shards that power the Emperor’s nightmarish constructs (creatures) are harvested straight from the skulls of the empire’s citizens. Once embedded and in use, the bone fragments slowly drain their former owner’s life force, causing a steady decline and untimely death. Lin knows this and feels conflicted. Still, she’s determined to become the next Emperor. Even if it means learning how to work bone shard magic. Even if it means lying to her father and stealing his secrets. After all, her father’s health is failing, and it won’t be long before the empire is vulnerable to attack.

While Lin is in the palace fighting for her rightful place and lost memories, things are shifting in the empire. Literally, as one island has up and sunk straight into the sea, taking infrastructure and people with it. Figuratively, as revolutionary forces are vying for change. And readers get to experience these shifts and changes firsthand. From the get-go, The Bone Shard Daughter is all about multiple POVs. Lin is, no doubt, the hero POV and she’s brilliantly fierce, but it’s smuggler Jovis (and magical creature Mephi!) who’ll full-on tie your heart into this story. It’s queer couple Ranami and Phalue who bring the romance and the revolution. And it’s island woman, Sand, who’s quest for her missing past will begin to unspool a thread that may lead to the empire’s darkest secret yet.


Book: The Bone Shard Daughter, The Drowning Empire #1
Published: Orbit
Pages: 438
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020
Stars: 5/5

Jonathan Ball Publishers kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

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