Series: The Drowning Empire #1
Published by Orbit on September 8, 2020
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Fantasy
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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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 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’m always up for an Asian-inspired fantasy from an own voices author, so when I heard that The Bone Shard Daughter was exactly what I was looking for, I was excited to pick it up. So what about The Bone Shard Daughter made it unique and interesting?
1. Fascinating magic system
From debut author Andrea Stewart, The Bone Shard Daughter is set in an oceanic empire, where rare bone shard magic controls the land. I loved hearing about the unique bone shard magic based off animal remains, that formed the Empire’s constructs – creatures who are spies and guards for the palace.
2. Oceanic world with characters from all over
There were many point of views within this book that made it really fascinating, as each island and character perspective was so different. We have Lin, the emperor’s daughter who is constantly investigating behind his back, to Bayan her rival brother to the throne, Jovis, the smuggler-turned-hero, Phalue, the daughter of a governor and Sand, someone who just needs to collect coconuts. While there are a lot of perspectives, I was never confused about who was who – given their character arcs were so different.
3. The unlikely hero
One of my favourite characters was Jovis, who is a smuggler, but does heroic deeds such as saving children from disaster. He becomes known for what he does, and it was interesting hearing from his perspective how this came to be. He probably takes the most dominant role in the book, as he searches the empire for his missing wife. What’s even better is that Jovis has an animal companion – the mysterious Mephi, who seems to be able to communicate with him.
4. Morally-grey heroine
Lin was a really fascinating character, you could tell her motivations were really grey, as she starts off sneaking behind her father’s back, knowing that his rule isn’t the most sustainable. There are so many mysteries surrounding her patchy memories and her competition with her brother, Bayan, who wants to take the throne. I love the sibling rivalry for the throne, and it was really unexpected the way things turned out. Although we do start off hearing from her, I wish more of the middle chapters followed her.
5. Sapphic romance
The main couple in a book is the sapphic f/f romance between Phalue, the Governor’s daughter, and Ranami, the commoner who she has fallen in love with. Given the difference between their social class and status, it was interesting seeing how Phalue could influence her father on issues that affected Ranami and her people. The two certainly had their share of challenges, but this didn’t affect their feelings for one another.
6. So many unexpected twists and turns
While there are certainly a lot of characters in Bone Shard Daughter, it was fascinating seeing how everything came together towards the end. There were lots of unexpected twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, which made it more exciting.
There were some things however that affected my enjoyment…
Although I found the magic system, the world and the characters to be really interesting, it was the slow pacing of the book, particularly in the middle of it that really affected my enjoyment. There are a lot of characters to get through, and I found some of them lacked the emotional depth or complexity to make you really connect with them. I struggled with the writing of the book, because it was great at conveying detail but there also wasn’t much urgency or emotion put into the words so it didn’t really make me feel anything.
The Bone Shard Daughter features many elements of a well thought out, unique fantasy with interesting characters, with twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. It is a wonderful debut book for fantasy lovers, and I’m looking forward to the next book!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a review copy!
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