The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
Series: The Drowning Empire #1
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.
My favorite part of this book was the intricate world building and magic system that seems so unique compared to the typical fantasy system. The world of the drowning empire is made up of floating islands that migrate on a fourteen year pattern. Magic is only known by the emperor, who takes bone shards from his subjects heads and carves runes on them to animate the sewn together bodies he creates.
Lin, the emperor’s daughter, has been trying to earn back his confidence since her memories were taken after a fever. Jovis is a smuggler who has been searching for his missing wife (and ends up finding a kitten/otter creature named Mephi during his mis-adventures). Ranami, Phalue, and Sand also have small parts throughout the book that are better left uncovered by the reader.
Most of the book is focused on setting up the world and the multiple moving parts that finally start coming together in the last 100 pages. The beginning of the book is mainly dedicated to setting up this complex world and system. This unfortunately made it a bit of a slog for me, but the latter part of the book saved it in my eyes. I also struggled throughout with the multiple points of view, especially Lin’s because I didn’t really care for her until the end. Phalue and Ranami are important for setting up some of the final scene drama, but I was wondering why they were included for the majority of the book as I thought their parts were kind of boring. I love Jovis and Mephi’s parts, and would read any subsequent books just for them and their adventures.
There is the potential for some romance being set up in future books, especially with some of the revelations present at the end, but budding feelings is not a main focus. The main “romantic” parts are between Phalue and Ranami who are having struggles in their ongoing relationship. Their conflicts are mainly political and seemed to be espoused upon because of the political statement the author wanted to make.
There are a lot of mysteries that I want solved – what is happening with all of the Alanga artifacts? What is Sand and her fellows going to do? I’m honestly more excited to explore those mysteries than I was/am about this book. But the set up for these was enough to raise my star rating.