~ Book Review: The Bone Shard War (The Drowning Empire) (ARC) ~

Expected publication April 18, 2023

Author: Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter was hailed as “one of the best debut fantasy novels of the year” (BuzzFeed News). Now, Andrea Stewart brings us the final book in this unmissable, action-packed, magic-laced epic fantasy trilogy, The Bone Shard War.

Lin Sukai has won her first victory as Emperor, but the future of the Phoenix Empire hangs in the balance – and Lin is dangerously short of allies. 

As her own governors plot treason, the Shardless Few renew hostilities. Worse still, Lin discovers her old nemesis Nisong has joined forces with the rogue Alanga, Ragan. Both seek her death.  

Yet hopes lies in history. Legend tells of seven mythic swords, forged in centuries past. If Lin can find them before her enemies, she may yet be able to turn the tide.  

If she fails, the Sukai dynasty – and the entire empire – will fall.  

The Bone Shard War is the final novel in the Drowning Empire trilogy. These conclusions are always bittersweet as I am anxious to find out how a series ends, but I am sad to finish it. Like most series, I always wish that I could read them back-to-back, this one was not any different. It did take me a minute to put myself back into the mindset of this universe, but I was able to catch up without issue. This part of the story takes place two years after the last novel where there are a ton of moving parts that all weave together in this massive universe. Lin is the ruler of the Phoenix Empire, but she is having trouble keeping control. Her allies are limited as Jovis is still gone after going to rescue Mephi plus she up against Ragan, the Shardless Few, and those around her. The Shardless Few has deemed Lin unfit to rule and are working to remove her from the throne. As for Jovis, he is caught by Ioph Carn. As the timeline is years after the last novel, I do miss seeing everything take place. I do understand why the author tried to keep to this timeline, but I think there could have been a whole other novel to fill in the gaps.

The characters and storylines were separated for part of this novel, which is difficult in a third novel in a trilogy. Usually, I expect them all to converge soon and lead up to the final climax. Instead, this one takes a bit longer to get there, which I do wish happened a little sooner. I loved the content, but it almost felt as-if the story could have been split into two novels just to spread out the pacing a little more. It would read smoother for readers like me who would expect the novel before a final one to be slower and then the actual final one could be faster. Since I loved the actual bulk of the novel, I did not mind this as much, but it was something I noted. A lot of the world was set-up in the previous novels, but there was still more world-building in this story. The characters had great character development and I loved that it was easy to follow yet complex.

There is a lot to love about this series and it feels highly underrated. It is a great introduction to Stewart’s writing, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next. This series was very ambitious, and I believe that Stewart pulled it off well. The plot(s) and characters were all engaging, and I love the relationships between them. Some characters and plotlines still have more that could have been explored, but Stewart did create a satisfying conclusion. While the story did not quite have pacing that worked for me, I still found that this long story went by quickly. I would love to read the three novels back-to-back in the future to see how the series all read together. Overall, this was a fun novel and a great final novel in the trilogy.

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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