Magic. Revolution. Identity.
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 she 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.
Author: Andrea Stewart
Publisher: Orbit Books
Series: The Drowning Empire #1
Release Date: 8th September 2020
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating for ‘The Bone Shard Daughter’: 4 out of 5
Something I really look forward to in new fantasy series (new to me anyway) is the prospect of a new, inventive and hopefully not convoluted magic system. Bone Shard Daughter ticked those boxes. It had a pretty fresh system that wasn’t so intricate that the reader needs to write notes as they go in order to remember how certain things work. It wasn’t perfect (more on that further down) but it was serviceable as far as magic systems go … to an extent.
The cast of characters were a bit of a mixed bag for me. To my eyes they ranged from interesting to, not bad, to ‘put this man in every chapter’. I wasn’t overly sold on all of the characters. Jovis was the stand-out for me. His smuggler lifestyle and his attachment to Mephi just made the story so enjoyable and exciting. For me, Lin was 2nd best of the cast of four. A shame considering the title of the book revolves around her, but I just never really thought she came close to outshining Jovis and Mephi. Sand and Phalue were just kind of … there. Which is odd considering both of their arcs will no doubt have massive parts to play (one of them certainly) in the coming books. But, for me, I just didn’t get excited unless it was Jovis or Lin’s name on the chapter heading.
The story revolves around the emperor’s desperate attempt to cling to power and long life, his use of Bone Shard Magic to ensure an ancient race stays gone and beaten, and the rest of the population as they revolt against the idea of this man draining their essence through his bone magic in order to keep them safe from an enemy they no longer believe to be real. There’s also a lot of stuff hidden beneath the main plot that will keep a reader interested and intrigued. On the whole, it’s a compelling and well-told story with interesting plot points and a magic system that is both intriguing and heavily flawed as far as believability goes.
My issues with the magic revolve mainly around the applications in battle. There’s one dreadful scene where a battle is in full flow, absolute chaos going on around everyone, but people have the time to calmly remove a slither of bone from a construct, write commands on it, pop it back in and set it into motion before any of said chaos can reach them. It just smacked of something that wouldn’t work in a real setting. If you decided, in the midst of heavy combat, to fidget around in a creature’s body, remove a bone shard, write on it and put it back in, something would have taken a swing at you whilst you tried. This is the point where I found it hard to take the book seriously any more, which is a shame as it was very solid up to that point.
Overall I really enjoyed this. I felt that some of the relationships were a bit forced. Some of the things that happened simply did so because they needed to happen, and certain aspects of Lin’s narrative came far too easily to her. But, on the whole, it was a good, solid first book. I’m undecided if I’ll carry on with it, though. As much as I enjoyed the story as a whole, the prospect of having to force myself through more magical battles that don’t work is a bit of an ‘I’m on the fence’ situation.