Author: Andrea Stewart
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.
I picked up The Bone Shard Daughter as the second novel ARC caught my eye. Since I like to read series in order whenever possible, I decided to read this one before beginning the next. The Drowning Empire series seems to be set up like a typical trilogy as this first installment is slower as it builds the world, characters, and main conflict. While there is a lot of interesting information in the first portion, the main action does not fully pick up until about three-quarters in. While I loved it, this pacing might not be for you if you do not enjoy this setup.
Before getting into everything, this review can be summed up in one word – Mephi! (I’ll discuss Mephi a little more later.) While the synopsis of the novel indicates that the story will focus on Lin, there are actually five perspectives. The points of view vary from first to third, which was nice as it made the reading experience dynamic. As each chapter focused on a different character, it was frustrating as there would be mini cliffhangers for one character before we would eventually circle back to find out what happened. While it was maddening at times as I wanted to know everything at once, it did keep me on my toes while reading.
Lin is from Imperial Island and is the emperor’s daughter. She lost her memories from an illness and works to try to recover them. Even though she is the heir to the throne, it is not guaranteed as her father states that his foster son, Bayan, can take over. The second and third perspectives come from Phalue, the governor’s daughter, and Ramani, her girlfriend from Nephilanu Island. The fourth is Jovis from Deerhead Island who is a heartbroken smuggler searching for his lost wife and travels around with his otter-like talking sidekick, Mephi. The final perspective is Sand from Maila Isle, at the edge of the Empire. Each character is on their own path in this story where some occasionally cross. However, this novel sets up many questions that it leaves for the next installments to answer.
Overall, this was an excellent start to the trilogy. The bone-shard magic (and the magic system in general) was difficult to visualize at times, so it took me a little longer to put everything together. The shards are taken from the skulls of children and are placed in constructs (creatures), which are controlled by those who wield this type of magic. When the shards are used, the source person can feel it. While it took me longer to understand the story, multiple interesting elements make me excited to read the next installment. I look forward to seeing what the sequel has to offer!