Title: The Bone Shard Daughter
Author: Andrea Stewart
Series: The Drowning Empire #1
Release Date: 10/9/2020
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 56
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Little, Brown Book Group UK/Orbit , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.
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.
Oh this is such a satisfying epic fantasy! It has everything I look for in a book: detailed world building, intricate magic systems, intriguing characters, seamless LGBT+ and POC rep, a plot that pulls you in and holds you tight aw well as a sass-talking magical companion too boot! What more could you want?
The blurb really doesn’t show the multitudes of layers there is to this tale. It really only captures one aspect of a fascinating world and the stories within it. I will admit at first I was a little off put by the large number of perspectives there was within this book. It was a little confusing at first, but as we learned about them and how they fit into the world I really liked how the switch in perspectives were used. It allowed us to learn about the world, the government, the magic systems and the characters in a very organic way. The stories of each of these characters layers and intertwined in a way that really built the plot beautifully, while also building tension and excitement. It was so well structured that I quickly lost myself in the story. I didn’t find myself hurrying to get through any particular perspective, each had a unique and interesting story while also playing into the plot lines too.
The world is fascinating and I honestly could happily read a book based on each individual island. The concept on migrating and moving islands that would move within its position in the world, of long wet and dry seasons and some islands only being close every 30-40 years was fascinating. We got so much insight into how the people of those islands went about daily life, how the islands were governed, their history but it also felt like there was so much more behind it all, we haven’t got to see yet. We got their myths and legends, how these differed and spread through the different islands. We got insight into all different tears of life in the Empire. They daily life, fears and hardships of those at the lowest rung of society, the lavishness of a corrupt government, the real enigma of the Palace itself, hidden behind its doors, there is just soooo much to explore. I can’t praise it enough, It just felt so rich and detailed.
I also really loved how much the magic system effected the populous of the world, how it played into there lives in every way. It really was so interesting to read about.The Magic system is dark and gruesome. From its methods to what the bone shard magic is capable of it just felt so inventive but also really creepy. As we discovered more and more of its secrets along side Lin it became darker, with real consequence to its use.
It is also a heavily character driven story. Lin is fantastic, I loved how her perspective puzzled out the magic system, its uses etc. Jovis, was the perfect reluctant hero- just the perfect mix of cocky, with the warm heart underneath. Determined to keep his Smuggler brovado as he searches for his missing wife. Phalue and Ranami, two sides of the same coin, an established f/f romance that are from opposite sides of status, figuring out where they stand with each other, within the empire and where their loyalties lie. Mephi, a magical talking horned-otter-cat – do I need to say more, we know my love for sassy animal companions. Finally Sand, a perspective that is is an enigma wrapped in a mystery! There are also so many side characters that will make you smile, laugh, scowl at or grieve for. You will love some and hate others but all the while be invested in there stories.
It has been a year of amazing books in the SFF world and this is one of the top. I cannot do it justice in this review other than it is worth reading. The next book cannot make its way into my hands quick enough.