Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Drowning Empire #1

The Bone Shard Daughter

Rate this book
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.

435 pages, Hardcover

First published September 8, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Andrea Stewart

23 books1,527 followers
Andrea Stewart is the Chinese American daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a number of places across the United States. Her parents always emphasized science and education, so she spent her childhood immersed in Star Trek and odd-smelling library books. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of becoming a dragon slayer didn't pan out, she instead turned to writing books. She now lives in sunny California, and in addition to writing, can be found herding cats, looking at birds, and falling down research rabbit holes.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
6,727 (32%)
4 stars
9,355 (45%)
3 stars
3,725 (17%)
2 stars
732 (3%)
1 star
189 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,949 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
664 reviews41.2k followers
February 2, 2023
I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRjh...

ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

4.5/5 stars

This will most likely be my favorite fantasy debut of 2020.

Honestly speaking, The Bone Shard Daughter was not on my radar despite people’s excitement on Twitter—where I found out about this book—back when the acquisition was first announced. Some of you may know this already, but my interest to read a book—without any review from someone I trust—by a new author whose work I haven’t read before depends solely on the cover art of the debut, and thankfully, the gorgeous cover art by Sasha Vinogradova revealed last month did grab my attention. As for the content of the book, let’s just say there are many good reasons why Andrea Stewart earned a six-figure deal for this trilogy.

The Bone Shard Daughter is the first book in The Drowning Empire trilogy by Andrea Stewart. The story takes place in an empire consisting of many islands. On these islands, the bone shard magic wielded by the emperor fuels monstrous constructs that enforce law and order. For decades the emperor has reigned, but now his rule is failing, whispers of revolution travel across the Empire’s islands. One of the main characters, Lin, is the emperor’s daughter and heir who spent her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and secrets; she’s doing everything she can to earn the respect plus approval of his father by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic. At the same time, she also must uncover the secrets behind her fractured memories. Revolution, justice, identity, love, and family are some of the main themes in this book, and Stewart executed these themes magnificently through her wonderful cast of diverse characters.

“The days we’d spent swimming and fishing at the beach, the first time I’d kissed her, the dreams we’d shared – I was now the only keeper of these memories, and that was the truest sort of loneliness. There were so many things I still wanted to tell her, to share with her.”

I feel that lately, with new SFF releases, it’s getting harder for me to find a debut that utilized more than three or four POV characters; Stewart uses five POV here, and she exacted a relatively unique storytelling style to it. Two of the main POV characters—Lin and Jovis—are written through a first-person perspective, while the other two main POV—Phalue & Ranami—and one side POV characters—Sand—are written in third person perspectives. This type of narrative decision typically has a chance of backfiring miserably, but that’s simply not the case with Stewart’s debut. The constant changes between the first-person and third-person POV chapters enhanced the distinctive strength of the character’s voices. Not only all of the main characters came from a different background, but all of them were also carefully developed and characterized throughout this novel that’s infused with splendid pacing.

Lin, as I mentioned before, is the daughter of the Emperor. Although Lin’s story felt separated from all the other POV characters for almost the entirety of the book, her story was the most gripping as it is full of espionage and mysteries that kept me immersed and guessing thoroughly. Seriously, when I thought I had everything figured out—and to be fair, I did predict a lot of the revelations—Stewart blindsided me with an unpredictable stab that made me went “alright, I didn’t see that one coming. This is surprisingly twisted. I love it.” Lin was one of the two main characters who attained the most spotlights, the other one being Jovis, a smuggler who survived the drowning of Deerisland and is now searching for his lover. In his journey, quite early at the beginning, Jovis met a mysterious fox with a magical power—Mephis. The relationship development between Jovis and Mephis was one of my favorite parts of the book; I have always been a fan of animal companion in SFF or any kind of story, and I feel that Stewart has done a terrific job in building their relationship.

“Little by little, he’d become more than just an animal, but a companion he couldn’t see himself being parted from.”

I would like to also praise Stewart on her achievement in writing Phalue and Ranami’s relationship. Phalue and Ranami did receive less spotlight compared to Lin and Jovis, but this doesn’t mean their POV chapters weren’t interesting to read; their relationship and disputes still felt genuine and believable. Whether we like it or not, social status does affect romantic relationships in real life, and I personally think that Stewart captured the difficulty of being in this kind relationship incredibly well. Do note that The Bone Shard Daughter isn’t a romance-heavy book; Phalue and Ranami’s relationship was effectively used to discuss elaborate the hardship that arises from being in poverty and wealth. The differences in their background caused differences in perspectives, and despite how much they loved each other, it is bloody challenging to truly understand what the other person is going through unless you live in their shoes. This applies to both sides, it’s not only the poor who has troubles in their life, the wealthy one just faced a different kind of problem that can be equally deadly, and this balance is what made Stewart’s take on this conflict better than usual.

“It’s hard to remake one’s view of the world, to admit to complacency. I thought remaking myself for you was hard enough, but doing that was something I wanted. I didn’t want to realize how much I’ve hurt the people around me, and that’s what confronting my beliefs meant. We all tell ourselves stories of who we are, and in my mind, I was always the hero. But I wasn’t. Not in all the ways I should have been.”

I loved learning more about the constructs—built from parts of dead animals—and the bone shard magic involved to reanimate them; I found the act of imbuing commands into these constructs and the repercussion of failing to be fascinating. The bone shard magic actually reminded me of scriving—inserting commands to inanimate objects—from another series I loved: The Founders Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett. Excluding Lin’s POV that has a large focus on these bone shard magic and constructs, things are moderately light on the high-fantasy world-building scale—for now anyway—but it’s undoubtedly is one. The mystery behind how The Endless Sea swallowed islands that were shown at the beginning of the book remains an unsolved mystery. The Drowning Empire is an apt series name, and I do believe we’ll learn more about this phenomenon and the Alanga in the sequels. It helps a lot that Stewart’s prose felt clean, well-polished, and comfortable to read. There were no curses, cussing, and there weren’t many gory scenes; even action sequences were relatively scarce. However, Stewart was able to keep the tension and emotion in each scene intact through her engaging dialogues, descriptions, and writings that conjured vivid imagery. Try taking a read at the first chapter of the free excerpt provided; to me, it was like seeing the characters move and speak right in front of my eyes. Also, if the first chapter isn’t obvious enough, this is clearly an Asian-inspired fantasy. The first chapter that introduced a ridiculously high expectation scene set by Lin’s father is pretty much how every Asian parent behaves; as an Asian, I can confirm this.

“One foolish choice is like a rat you let go. It will spawn more consequences than you first thought possible.”

“A very good” is what Mephis would definitely say regarding the quality of this debut. I certainly enjoyed it very much. The ending ended satisfyingly—there’s no cliffhanger—and it still left me excited to read the sequel as soon as I can, despite this book being fourth months away from its official publication. I have been a fan of books published by Orbit for the past three years now. In fact, I do think that they’re the best SFF publisher for newer releases at the moment, and The Bone Shard Daughter is the recent addition to their catalog of stunning quality. Here’s a list of my favorite debuts both written and read in the past three years: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames in 2017, The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang in 2018, The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan in 2019; other than The Poppy War, all of these books are published by Orbit. The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart will be the best fantasy debut of 2020. Don't miss it.

The UK hardback edition of The Bone Shard Daughter is cheaply priced at $15 on Book Depository right now. For comparison, that’s the same price as its US Kindle edition. I suggest pre-ordering this book NOW. The link is down below.

Official release date: 10th September 2020 (UK) and 8th September 2020 (US)

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews152k followers
August 11, 2022
“Father told me I’m broken,” we can all agree, is one of hell of an opening line.

Those five words immediately swim through a thousand questions flooding the reader’s mind. The questions will be answered eventually—most of them, anyway—but not before Andrea Stewart makes us at home in the minds of four different narrators. In that sense, the plot of The Bone Shard Daughter feels like a fist clenching a tangle of threads, and the most vivid of those threads begins with Lin.

Lin is heir to the Phoenix Empire, but with memories of her past washed away by the Sickness, her father, the Emperor, refuses to acknowledge her as such. Shutting himself away with Bayan—the Emperor’s protégé and Lin’s rival—to experiment and pry away at the bone shards inside of his constructs, the Emperor has no time for her brokenness. Lin has forgotten how to work bone shard magic and she feels the absence of that knowledge within her like a hunger. Determined, Lin sets out to pry at her father's secrets and unlock the mysteries of his creations one by one.

The second thread is tied to Jovis whose missing wife’s face is suspended in his memory like an axis point around which all else turns. Seven years have fallen away, and Jovis still sails the Endless Sea, chasing rumors of a dark boat with blue sails—the one that took his wife Emahla—while outrunning his creditors. One day, Jovis plucks a strange creature out of water, and the strange creature plucks him out of a grief so vast Jovis can't see its edges. Soon, rumors begin to speak of a smuggler with preternatural strength who saves children from the Tithing Festival with his peculiar animal companion, but notoriety is the last thing Jovis needs.

In Nephilanu Island, the third thread runs through Phalue’s story. Phalue—daughter and heir to the island’s governor—is wondering if the ravine between her and her partner Ranami will ever be small enough to close. Phalue’s fear properly kindles when she discovers that Ranami is conspiring with the rebellious Shardless Few to take down the Phoenix Empire and restore power to the people. Phalue and Ranami’s beliefs soon start clashing, and Phalue realizes that if she hopes to make a bridge for her and Ranami to cross, she must first confront all the things about empire and her role in it that she’s studiously avoided looking in the eyes before.

Sandu’s story is the last thread of the novel. After Sandu falls from the tree where she collects mangoes and hits her head, the lull fog she’s been living in suddenly clears and Sandu is able to recover some of her memories. Sandu sets out to break the other residents of Maila from the thrall of the mysterious spell she had been under and break out from her prison.


To say that there’s clearly a lot to set up here would be an understatement. Fortunately, Andrea Stewart does it without breaking a sweat. There is no shortage of things to be impressed by here, but the book’s main strength to me lies in the voices the author gives her characters. Stewart has gone for a bold, tricky form: the author ushers in readers through four different storylines from four different narrators, which she juggles with the confidence of a circus performer on a tightrope. The characters have a chapter each, and within their chapters their lives sometimes overlap, forming a complicated composite of friends and foes, but their backgrounds, their experiences, their motivations, and choices could not be more different. To create such distinct characters in a multi-voiced narrative is no easy feat, but Stewart genuinely makes it look effortless.

There are, however, distinctly similar thematic currents that run through the narrative. The Bone Shard Daughter is a novel that is undeniably preoccupied with the complex facets of empire. Lin, who is set to inherit an Empire fraying at the edges, discovers that by attempting to salvage it her choices might have only tugged loose more threads; Phalue, whose image of empire was preserved for so long in false glossy perfection, is forced to reckon with the extravagance of tricks with which that same empire presents itself as good; Jovis, who’s spent seven years drifting through empire looking for his missing wife, wants nothing to do with empire but it is that empire which turns out to be a dark hole standing between him and the answers he sought; and Sandu, though far away from the empire’s heart, is a victim of empire in ways she is still slowly piecing together. Ultimately, the characters must, individually, reckon with the terrible unpayable cost of empire, but it's only together that they can figure out how to dismantle it.

Along the way, the novel also brings up head-spinning ideas about power (how it can be a double-edged sword, something to be yearned for as well as distrusted) and identity and how our personal histories can both build us up and trap us, and leaves you with plenty to pore over long after you turn the last page.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book. I consumed it in two settings, hanging tightly each time onto the different threads of the narrative so that I could hold the whole puzzle up in my mind, spin it, look for how it all fit together. It's clear that Stewart has her final destination in mind, setting up what promises to be even more exciting challenges in subsequent installments, and I can't wait to follow her there.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,406 reviews9,539 followers
March 14, 2022
UPDATE: $2.99 Kindle US 3/14/22

Amazon Review: https://www.amazon.com/review/R1206GU...

Holy shit balls! 5 fanfreakingtastic stars baby!! Straight to favorites list. Debut book people!! Andrea Stewart knocked it out of the park for me. I will be elated to have this hardcover on my shelves!

Major Players:
Lin - Emperor’s daughter
Jovi - The best smuggler ever
Phalue - A daughter of a governor
Ranami - Phalue’s girlfriend and Rebel
Sand - She’s on the island of lost memories.

Damn, how do I put this.... the emperor is a twat and using bone shard magic in seriously bad ways!! Lin, is doing everything she can to find out her fathers secrets and stop him.

Jovis is saving as many children as he can from some horrific things. He also has a little animal friend, Mephi, that I love with all of my heart!

Jovis and Lin are my favorite characters but I loved everyone else too. There are also minor characters that are fantastic. And yes, there are deaths. Sigh...

This book has so many twists and lightbulb moments that kept me on my toes! I absolutely love it!

Uncorrected proof quote *

I wasn’t sure on which of the floating islands Father had found the abomination that made up the bulk of the Construct of Spies. But I knew I never wanted to visit. The construct looked nothing so much as a giant spider, dark brown and glistening, as tall as my chest when it stood to attention. Human hands were attached to the end of each of its spindly legs, and an old woman’s adorned the abdomen.

*Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for a digital copy of this book.

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot....
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 284 books96.9k followers
December 2, 2020
First a caveat. I recieved a free copy of the ARC of this book. I do not know the author.

(Is anyone tired of these little caveats? It always seems to me that I should let readers know if I got the book for free, or if I'm best friends with the writer. Anyway, in the interest of honesty, I'll probably keep doing them!)

As always, I'm going to try to stay spoiler free.

This is my first read of a book by Andrea Stewart, but I look forward to seeing more work by this author. The ending of The Bone Shard Daughter definitely leaves the door open to more volumes set in this world. With that said, the book has a relatively satisfying ending, so those readers who do not want to make a commitment to a multi volume story, but do want a richly detailed work and an immersive experience should not fear to pick this one up.

This book respects the reader's intelligence. That's a big deal for me. There are multiple points of view, and the astute reader can put together information from those various sources to gain a wider view of the world than any individual character possesses. It also allows the reader to deduce things that the individual characters may be unaware of, contributing to a nice tension as the reader awaits the character's awakening to what the reader knows. But with that said, there were some very nice twists where I thought I knew what was coming, but the writer put an interesting little torque that still surprised me.

Daring characters, smugglers, complicated friendships, animal companions, quests for justice, unlikely friendships: if you enjoy any of those ingredients, this is a book you should pick up.

Profile Image for may ➹.
471 reviews1,898 followers
December 2, 2020
The Bone Shard Daughter tells the story of Lin, the daughter of the Emperor who cannot remember a semblance of her life before five years ago, and Jovis, a wanted smuggler on a fruitless search for his lover who’s been missing for seven years. It also follows three other characters—Phalue, Ranami, and Sand—whose paths weave intricately with the others to create an overall compelling narrative.

This book was not at all what I expected it to be, but I was not disappointed. Set in a world where animal-like constructs are brought to life with the destructive bone shard magic that drains the lives of the Empire’s citizens, it is an immersive story that becomes more and more chilling as it explores magic, memory, privilege, and, most of all, power.

I wished I did remember. Was there a time when this man stroked my hair and kissed my forehead? Had he loved me before I’d forgotten, when I’d been whole and unbroken?

This book is told in multiple points of views—Lin and Jovis in first person, and the others in third. I know this may sound intimidating to some, especially the switch in first and third person, but it was done seamlessly, and I loved how each perspective slowly wove together in a grand tapestry.

Of the two more central characters, I thought Lin to be the most narratively interesting. After losing her memories, her father has never deemed her worthy enough to start learning bone shard magic. She learns it herself, determined to prove her value, and that she deserves the throne. While she questions herself, especially after a certain event, she is always sure of her place and worth beyond whatever her father believes.

But I also adored Jovis. He’s a tired, grumpy, and highly skilled smuggler who “works alone” and “doesn’t need anyone” after his wife went missing 7 years ago. I absolutely loved reading the growth he goes through, helped along by the quiet, steady companionship of Mephi, a talking magical animal creature who slowly gets him to open up. We aren’t sure what type of animal he is, but know that he is the best creature to ever exist. And yes, I may have teared up over a scene involving him… look away.

Phalue and Ranami were also both fascinating characters to read about. I wish they had gotten a bit more page time, actually, though I’m hopeful we’ll see more of them in the coming sequels! Their chapters explore classism and the privilege (and ignorance) that comes with socioeconomic status. This conflict of Phalue being the governor’s daughter versus Ranami who grew up on the streets, backdropped by a sweet, loving (sapphic!) relationship, made their story so enticing to read.

And finally, Sand’s chapters were some of my favorites to read, though they appeared the least throughout the book. Sand has forgotten everything about her life before now, where she moves through her day in a fog, on an island full of other people with lost memories. I wanted to know everything about her, and the reveal did not disappoint.

“No.” Mephi rested his chin on my shoulder. “Not lonely. I am here with you.”

The whole book feels like buildup, which I know to some may sound off-putting. But it is truly excellent buildup, interesting and engaging and riveting. I think what also really worked for me was this sense of foreboding and suspense that hung over me the entire book. I knew twists would be coming and reveals would be made, and I couldn’t stop making theories and guesses about where it would head.

Stewart’s writing is absolutely lovely—so easily readable and gripping that it feels like sand slipping through your fingers, the feeling of slicing smoothly through water. I would definitely recommend this book to any readers who are seeking to dip their toes in adult fantasy but might be intimidated by the genre; the prose is beautiful not in a dense, flowery way but a simple, subtly captivating way.

However, I think some readers will be put off by the slower pacing of this book. I won’t deny that I really felt it and the way the plot inched along, particularly in the beginning. For me, though, my investment in the characters, combined with Andrea’s easy writing, made it go by smoothly. It was unputdownable: I ached to know more about each intriguing whisper of a plot twist, and it simultaneously felt like a well-loved quilt being patched together and also a ball of yarn slowly unfurling to create a beautiful shape.

Speaking of the plot twists—god, they were so good. I think some of them are fairly predictable, but there were just so many that I feel like there has to be at least one you don’t see coming. (I certainly was fooled by one.) The layers of some of them invite so many questions, and while the book does not end on a painful cliffhanger, you certainly will find yourself hungry for next book already.

“It’s hard to remake one’s view of the world, to admit to complacency. I thought remaking myself for you was hard enough, but doing that was something I wanted. I didn’t want to realize how much I’ve hurt the people around me, and that’s what confronting my beliefs meant. We all tell ourselves stories of who we are, and in my mind, I was always the hero. But I wasn’t. Not in all the ways I should have been.”

My friend Ellie said that this book feels like a set-up for book 2, and I agree! I think this book sets a great foundation for the sequel to expand on, especially with the worldbuliding. I really loved how we were fed bits of information about the setting a few at a time, and each thing only made me more intrigued, especially with the idea of floating islands that can drown, and the mysterious, elusive Alangi civilization.

This was truly such a solid adult fantasy debut, brimming with magic and secrets. If you can handle the slower pacing, I would definitely recommend this, for well-written complex character arcs, a plot that unravels deliciously, and of course, a magical animal companion that will steal your heart instantly. I can’t wait to see what brilliant story Stewart manages to construct (no pun intended) with these characters next.

Small note: This was marketed to me as a book with a f/f relationship and a book similar to The Poppy War, and both of these made me even more excited to read it. However, the f/f relationship was not as central as I’d believed it to be, and there was no comparison I could draw between TBSD and TPW, besides the East Asian inspirations/authors and inclusion of politics. This doesn’t mean I was disappointed or thought the book was bad or didn’t like the f/f relationship; I just want to note for readers that the f/f relationship isn’t central and the book is nothing like TPW, so they don’t go in with incorrect expectations like I did!

:: rep :: East Asian-coded cast, wlw main characters

:: content warnings :: violence, death of loved ones (off-page), missing loved one, depictions of blood, cutting into skin (not self-harm), drowning

// buddy read with my two favorites!

Thank you to Orbit for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect ny opinions in any way.

All quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may differ in final publication.
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,925 followers
May 25, 2022
The character dynamics are so nuanced and the writing is on that fine line of poetic. Fight me.

The small shred of what was left of my sanity was used in writing this review.

The first line of this book is:
“Father told me I’m broken,”
…and I was sold. I couldn’t stop reading.

some reasons why this might not be for you:
• the plot takes ages to develop since the changes in narration takes up a lot of page time
• if you don't vibe the mysterious atmosphere, you might find it grueling to read
• the magic system is very straight to the point and explained plainly
• if you don't like reading from constantly changing points of view that focuses more on character interactions and character build ups

some reasons why this might be for you:
• mysterious prose
• complicated characters with heartwarming character dynamics
• reluctant hero trope
• dark, gruesome, with some slight steampunk vibes
• unique magic system
• animal companion (very cute)
• society-normalized LGBTQ+ relationships
• The Fifth Season x Mistborn vibes
• multilayered plot
• multi POV
• themes on ruling and nuance of ruling

The setting itself reminded me of Mistborn wherein this beaten-down town/city is ruled by this mysterious ruler locked up in a castle + with all the mystery surrounding the world-building. One of the main characters of this story is the heir of said ruler. However, there’s a chance that she might lose her chance if she doesn’t prove herself in some unconventional way, which was surprising to me. All I’ll say is that it deals with the lost memory concept in Fantasy and that was the aspect that really hooked me in the beginning.

The fact that multiple characters in this story didn’t know who they were and so we didn’t know who they really were… was so tantalizing to me? It made the story extra intriguing to read by adding that mystery aspect. The pages actually flew by. It’s so interesting being able to explore the dark, gruesome, almost steampunk kind of magic system that feels like you are unravelling a mystery that is already falling apart at the seams.

“I would show him that even broken daughters could wield power.”

It’s funny because I know the title is called “The Bone Shard Daughter” but I didn’t expect the magic to… actually involve bone shards. The bone shards are used to power these, sometimes haphazardly composed, constructs that are made to function for certain things like guard animals, spies, etc. which gave the steampunk feel.

The complicated sibling but not-sibling relationship between Lin and Bayan got me so intrigued that I was excited every time Bayan was on the page. I was living and breathing for the dynamic believe me. This first book is character driven for the most part but there’s an underlying plot keeping everything moving behind the scenes. Which I’m starting to realize is the only time that I’m fine with slow paced plots.

“You were quiet. For once in your life, you were quiet. And when I sat next to you to help, shoulder to shoulder, I could feel a future in that silence.”

i really took my time reading this book and i need to say that every. single. page. of. slow. paced. plot. progression. is totally worth it because it gave way into each of the character’s heads and get to know their motives/personalities . I usually can’t stand relatively slow paced books but as usual, there are exceptions because these characters are TOP TIER :”)

One of my favorite tropes in fantasy is when the main character/s stumbles into becoming a “hero” or reluctantly takes up that kind of position. We see that in Stormlight Archives with Kaladin and we see that in Jovis in this book.

”They’ll think they know you, and that’s very different”

I loved how the themes on complications of ruling and leadership were dealt with as it was exemplified by perspectives from those at the top of the ruling body to the bottom. Every time fantasy books writes POVs from two characters in opposing social standings given the fantastical world that they are set in.... so much dimension is added to the world-building while keeping things interesting. The mood was a lot lighter than I thought it would be, especially given the body horror (seriously, please read the content warnings at the bottom of this review).

all of the characters start off the story in very unique roles and positions that it was so satisfying watching them come together.

Though it isn’t a romance novel the side romances made me feel so hopeful. It showed how someone can love you that much while still being aware of every single one of your flaw. I do wish we get more of our sapphic duo in the next book.

↣ Very highly recommended if you like dark magic systems with complicated characters set in a kingdom that is falling apart. Especially ones that deal with themes of ruling and "what really is right". Bonus points for you if you like cute animal companion dynamics because this one is adorable.

“I was now the only keeper of these memories, and that was the truest sort of loneliness.”

i'm going to now go find a hole to crawl in to read the next book

— 4.75 —
content warnings// Human trafficking, Physical parental abuse, Child sexual abuse (mentioned), Amnesia (memory loss), Blood & gore depiction, Body horror, Medical experimentation, Death of a child, Death of a brother, Death of a mother & father, Death of a wife, Murder & attempted murder, Physical assault, Imprisonment, Drowning, Earthquakes, Disappearance of a loved one, Child homelessness & poverty (recounted), Rebellion themes & regicide, Animal attack, Animal injury & illness, Animal abuse

post-read initial review

i want to crawl in a hole now...

Review to come when I get my sanity back!
Profile Image for Marzuqa.
63 reviews56 followers
November 21, 2021
Originality has been such a need in the fantasy genre lately, and this book is every bit an original. It’s a whole new world to get lost into. It’s simply unputdownable! Worth every minute of reading.
The novelty of the concepts takes a little getting used to, but once you’re settled, you just can’t not enjoy this.
I particularly loved reading Lin’s POV, though all other POVs were just as amazing. I literally flew through the last one third of the book, as it got really crazy towards the end.

Man, how am I even gonna wait till the next book comes out?!!
Profile Image for Nicole.
718 reviews1,787 followers
April 18, 2021
This isn’t a review as much as random points summing up my opinion of this book:

✘ Mephi is the star of this book period.
✘ I like the characters but didn’t grow attached to any of them.
✘ I appreciated Ranami and Phalue’s rep especially Phalue’s father not even being disappointed or so on her loving a woman. Even in books, most societies still frown on lgbtq+ individuals which reflects our real world of course. None of it is bad but it was a nice change.

✘ I wish their part however was more important like Lin and Jovis’ because some of their chapters didn’t add much to the story.
✘ This book also featured a trope (as a twist) I’m not fan of, probably would’ve avoided the book if I knew
✘ Lin acting like a YA heroine “I am Lin. I am the Emperor’s Daughter. I would” or whatever. It was repeated too many times.

✘ The book did not have YA vibes, though. Also, all characters are adults.
✘ It did not however feel complex enough and I wanted to know more about the history and world-building, like the islands and what’s beyond them (other than vague references).
✘ Did I mention that I loved Mephi (the “animal companion”)? He was so sweet and cute, where can I get one???

✘ I did struggle to finish the book. there was nothing wrong with it and like I mentioned, the characters were likable, and even the story was interesting. But even towards the end, I couldn’t sit still and read. If it was more addicting, I would’ve finished it days ago.
✘ I don’t know if I’ll be reading the sequel especially because of that trope I mentioned. Will see.
✘ Not a bad debut but at the same time, I did expect better.

Overall, it was a fun book but I couldn’t connect to the characters and it wasn’t as complexe as it can be. It’s not a memorable book either. If you want a simple fantasy book to enjoy, then sure. But if you’re expecting a book on the level of our beloved fantasies, this isn’t for you. Yet, the majority had a better time reading this one so you might too.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
727 reviews11.6k followers
November 22, 2020
“A made thing could grow and change beyond its original purposes.”

Ahhh, not bad at all.

Do not be fooled (as I almost was) by the deceptively YA-sounding title that for me initially evoked the “what-currently-sells” image of a standard cliched trope-filled very young wish-fulfillment “strong heroine” fantasy fare, but that’s certainly does not apply here. No, what you actually get is a clever epic fantasy that is at least trying to be adult-ish, a promising debut that should not certainly go unnoticed.

The setting is a vaguely Asian-inspired Empire made of migrating (and sometimes sinking) islands on the Endless Sea, ruled by the Emperor whose absolute power is enforced by the organic constructs (basically flesh robots) powered by algorithmic bone magic. As everyone knows, all power has its price — but it’s easy here for the power-wielders to disregard this since the price of the power is borne and paid by someone else. The skull bone shards that power the constructs are forcibly taken from the Empire subjects, and when in use drain the life force of those they were taken from, while the Emperor and cronies reap the benefits without the burden of the price.
“I knew that hollow look. Shard-sick. Somewhere, her bone shard was in use, and it had nearly drained her life.”

And the foundations of this tyrannical society are starting to crumble. After all, “No empire lasts forever, and I think this one has been overripe for a long, long time.”

This is a story that focuses on power and responsibility, while exploring the concept of identity, autonomy and choices. What happens when the power is in the hands of those who are not deserving of it anymore? But what also happens after the power is wrestled away? Are choices or expectations what shape us, and what decisions do we choose to make with that in mind? Can we have the power to step beyond the expectations, ours or others? And (to paraphrase Terry Pratchett’s words, as I often do), is personal the same as important?
“Fanatics were all alike, cut from the same cloth and dyed different colors.”

It builds on the well-established genre ideas - beloved by all fantasy books concept of absolute monarchy, tyrannical rule, a plucky yet somewhat disadvantaged heir to the throne, a bitter rivalry, a lovable Han Solo-esque scoundrel who unexpectedly discovers that he possesses a heart of gold, magical creatures, rebellions - but gives a fresh spin to them, repurposing the concepts rather than just recycling them.

It’s quite imaginative and the word building is shaping out to be quite interesting although, to be honest, just a bit thin - I’m hoping the sequels will help. The floating islands concept was fascinating, and brought back memories of Frances Hardinge’s Deeplight (although the similarities stop at the island setting, and I loved Hardinge’s book much more - but I’m her devoted fangirl).

I liked the POV switches and the alternating first- and third-person narration (I tend to get easily tired of the first-person voice that seems to be increasingly common), and thank all the deities it did NOT have the ever-popular present-tense narration either. We alternate between a few corners of the Empire, with the story set on several islands, and get to know several key figures. Lin, an Emperor’s daughter (as she will tell you ad nauseam) who tries to win her father’s approval and recover her lost memories, ends up having a bit of an identity crisis. Jovis, a smuggler, is trying to find his missing wife and ends up reluctantly pulled into an insurrection while meeting a strange companion on his unexpected journey. Phalue, a daughter of a corrupt island governor, is pulled into a guerilla world of her girlfriend Ranami. And far away on a remote island a woman named Sand shakes off a thrall of leading a life of a mindless worker drone. All these threads are destined to collide at the heart of the Empire - eventually, as of course this is very much a beginning of a series and the payoff is a few books away. Do not expect any resolutions; everything is a set-up for the story to come.
“And then I held the tool poised over the corner of my fresh, blank bone. I’d made certain, when I’d gone back to the storeroom, to choose an island far away from the inner Empire, one where I didn’t know the occupants and never could have met them. One where I might never know the occupants.
But the moment I pressed this tool into the bone, I was writing on the life of someone, no matter that they were half a world away.”

Some events that shaped this story took me by surprise - and I loved that. They changed what I thought was going to be a cliched development into a much more intriguing possibilities. There certainly should be quite a few interesting moral dilemmas in the sequels, based on the direction this one took. And I have to note - this world is certainly very classist, but thankfully and refreshingly is lacking misogyny and homophobia which are so often a given even in imaginary fantasy worlds.

One thing I could live without though would be Mephi, the mysterious maybe-animal companion (familiar?) to Jovis, a creature of mystical gifts and apparently, oodles of cuteness. That cuteness and almost-banter between them was meant to add lightheartedness, I suppose, but to me often felt incongruous with the rest of the story tone. Mephi often seemed to have wandered in from the cute pages of a children’s book, and I did not care much for that. But I suspect I’m in the definite minority with this opinion.

There are unfortunately some plot holes, too, which keep bugging me. If bone shards stop working when the person who provided them dies, then there should be frequent construct maintenance all over the islands - especially after the sinking of Deerhead island, but it doesn’t seem to be happening as nobody mentions it, really. It seems that shards from one island are not limited to constructs that end up on that island (in which case Deerhead sinking would not have caused a giant construct malfunction). And it would realistically require more people than the Emperor and partially trained Bayan to fix those. And are the people whose shards power the super-important 4 closest construct advisors of the Emperor under special guard? Since having those constructs malfunction would be at least an annoyance.

And the Emperor just needed to use a bit of logic to win the fateful confrontation — all he needed to do was to

Nevertheless, a pretty decent although not perfect debut, and I am excited for the sequel. I think Andrea Stewart will do quite well as a writer.

3.5 stars.
“A made thing could grow and change beyond its original purposes.
I would show the Emperor: I’d grown beyond mine.”
Profile Image for Hamad.
990 reviews1,306 followers
October 27, 2020
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

“When a shark offers up a pearl, be wary of its teeth.”

The Bone Shard Daughter is a book that I have heard a lot of things about from people I trust and that’s why I decided to pick it up as my October book of the month for my book club! I am glad I did so because it definitely was an interesting read.

The story has multiple POV including: Lin, daughter of the emperor who has memory loss and she wants to learn the shard magic but the emperor doesn’t want to teach her until she gets her memories. Jovis, a smuggler working against the empire and trying to find his lost wife. Ranami and Phalue who are dating and are part of the rebels. Finally we have Sand, a minor POV that is quite vague!

I always try to find the positive things in books and there is usually something that stands out in every book and in this one, I thought it is how easy going into it was! Usually adult fantasy books start with info dump and gets more interesting as we progress through the story but this was simply very easy to get into from the first chapter. I was definitely confused and that’s normal but it was gripping from the first few pages. Other things I liked about the writings are the smooth transition between the different POV and how we had first and third person POV and it was so slick that I did not notice it until like halfway through the book. I also enjoyed the mini cliffhangers at the end of each chapter that made me want to continue jumping between the POVs to know what happens next!

“A person who can’t see a future doesn’t have a future”

The characters were very well written and each character was unique in their own way. I loved how they all develop through the story. I talked about their roles above and I need to mention Mephi, Jovis companion through the story and it was just super cute! I love how Jovis was so protective of it. And then there are the constructs which are weird creatures created by the king and controlled by the shard magic and imo, I think they were the most intriguing part about this story!

The magic system is not very complicated, it basically reminded me of a programming language, you write commands into bone shards and insert them into the constructs! I have said a similar thing about the magic system in Foundryside and I did get the same vibes from both novels but each in its unique way!

The pacing was slow at first and then it gets faster later in the book, the last 25% were crazy awesome with all the plot twists and reveals and everything fell into place which made them my favorite part and which increased my rating of this story to above 4 stars!

“I would drink a thousand lies just to see your face again.”

Summary: I think Orbit is doing a great job in picking all these talented authors works! I did not feel that this was a debut at all because it shows writing experience from the writing style to the characters and the world-building! I definitely am continuing the series and looking forward to book 2 already!

You can get more books from Book Depository
Profile Image for Lucie V..
998 reviews1,635 followers
September 2, 2022
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you Orbit Books). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅✅ Magic system / Original concept
✅ World-building
✅ Characters
✅ 4 POVs
✅ Action
✅🆗 Intrigue
✅🆗 Pace
🆗 Romance

“A person who can’t see a future doesn’t have a future”

The Bone Shard Daughter is a very promising debut. It takes place in an empire consisting of many islands where the emperor keeps control of everything with the help of his bone-shard magic. With this magic and bone shards he took from every citizen, he can create constructs that are alive and that only he can control and order around. The problem is that the people are not happy to be docile and subdued anymore and the empire is rotting from the inside because of greed. Things are about to change in the empire for everyone.

I was Lin. I was the Emperor’s daughter. And I would show him that even broken daughters could wield power.

The story follows many characters and has many points of view. There is Lin, the daughter of the emperor, trying to figure out why she has no memories of her past and trying to learn everything about bone-shard magic without her father knowing. She knows that her father is not doing a very good job as leader of the empire and wishes to be named his heir so she can replace him and do a better job.

The days we’d spent swimming and fishing at the beach, the first time I’d kissed her, the dreams we’d shared – I was now the only keeper of these memories, and that was the truest sort of loneliness. There were so many things I still wanted to tell her, to share with her.

Jovis is the best smuggler of the empire and is trying to find his wife that was kidnapped 7 years ago while also trying to evade the law, and saving a few people on the way. He luckily finds a weird animal that will become his loyal companion, and I need to say that I just loved the relationship between Jovis and Mephis, it is one of my favorite parts.

Palue is the daughter of a governor, desperately in love with the beautiful Ranami who doesn’t want to become a governor’s wife, and wishes for the common people to be treated more fairly. Ranami is also involved in a group planning a rebellion against Palue’s father, so that creates some issues in their couple too.

Finally, Sand is more mysterious. We don’t know much about her besides the fact that she is a woman on an island where no one seems to have any memories of how they got there or where they were before. She knows what task she needs to do, but has no idea why she needs to do it. She knows the name she was given but does not know anything else about her life. There are also some revelations about that island and Sand’s group at the end of the book so I am really curious to learn more about their backstory, hopefully in the next book.

It’s hard to remake one’s view of the world, to admit to complacency. I thought remaking myself for you was hard enough, but doing that was something I wanted. I didn’t want to realize how much I’ve hurt the people around me, and that’s what confronting my beliefs meant. We all tell ourselves stories of who we are, and in my mind, I was always the hero. But I wasn’t. Not in all the ways I should have been.

The characters are all unique in their own way and they are well written and developed. I admit that the first few chapters are a little confusing and it was harder to get into the story, but after the 20% mark, things get more exciting and the characters slowly start to interact with each other, creating one complex storyline instead of 4 different stories.

Lin’s chapters are full of intrigue and espionage and honestly, even though I guessed some of the plot twists before they were revealed, some of them took me completely by surprise. Some parts are dark and twisted, but it is a great book because of this darker dimension. Jovis’s and Phalue’s chapters are full of action as the former is trying to evade the law and the criminal gang he owes money to, and the latter gets pulled into a rebellious group because of the woman she loves.

The bone shard magic is so original, I really enjoyed how this book has a unique and fascinating magic system, it is refreshing. Basically, the emperor tithes his people to take a bone shard from their skull when they are children. With these bone shards, he can infuse life into his creations and has control over them. He can create constructs with many different animal parts and can write simple (or complex) commands on bone shards that he will put inside the constructs in a certain order to control them.

This book really was a nice surprise. It is original and well written, there is action, intrigue, and even a little bit of romance, and I strongly recommend it if you are looking for something a little different from the usual YA.

Follow me on Instagram 🙂
Profile Image for Melanie (MelReads).
102 reviews10.6k followers
December 15, 2021
DNF at 60%

Nothing about the worldbuilding was making sense to me. It was shallow, poorly explained and the multi POV’s were taking away from the only interesting— to me— storyline, which was Lin’s.

And yes, I’m very sad cause I thought this one would be a 5 star read for me. Brb while I mourn my loss.
Profile Image for Ashley.
782 reviews422 followers
January 10, 2022
Star Rating: —> 5 Stars

Buddy read with the lovely Darcey, my OTP BRing partner (and top tier amazing best friend) !

I was expecting a lot from this book— I definitely had lofty, lofty expectations

—AND this novel surpassed Every. Single. One. I cannot believe this is a DEBUT! What an absolute masterpiece! I’ve only just closed the cover, & may have technically left the world, but I most definitely have one foot still in, and my mind is ALL IN. I am obsessing over this first book in The Drowning Empire trilogy! Not to mention, I am missing it already SO MUCH. I could read about the world, and the characters, just forever! Not to mention, the book takes place over a large group of islands that are ruled over by the Empire (minus a few)... and the book starts, with an actual, huge, *WHOOOOOOSH*, as one of the islands literally sinks ! Definitely a guarantee to draw readers, *raises hand* (me, at the very least), in from the very start!


Bone Shard magic is comprised of just that— bone shards— and every single citizen is required by law to provide one to the Emperor. When their shards are being used, they fall ill. Uh, not ideal conditions to live in for the citizens, that's for sure (to say the least) !😱

Anyway, bone shards are used to power creations of the Emperor’s— Constructs (Which my GOD did I LOVE this completely unique and refreshing concept!); The shards also each contain a plethora of commands that have to be organized JUST RIGHT. These constructs must follow their given commands, although compliance of these commands can be a bit iffy, as some Constructs are extremely complex with much room for error! Even in simple constructs there’s always a chance for unintended mistakes or loopholes ! 😏
Constructs are SOFREAKINGCOOL! They can look like animals, or, well, they can take any shape the creator wishes— they can EVEN take the shape of humans— or humanoid shapes even!

The Emperor is the only one who can control his creations (except for his step son who he is training in bone shard magic ...and anyone else who happens to know the art... IF anyone else knows...Hrm...); He uses these constructs to help him rule by keeping & enforcing order, spying (he has a whole spy network of constructs!!!), and all sorts of other purposes! It is CRAZY how specific some of their orders are.

The emperor’s daughter, Lin, is one of the MCs and we see the Emperor up close from her perspective only. She is forced to live in the palace basically all of the time, by her fathers order, leaving her frustrated, with a serious case of curiosity, and surrounded by secrecy from every direction... not to mention that her father uses constructs to keep an eye on her at all times. She is supposed to have been taught to use bone shard magic by now, but her father will not teach her, because she can not remember her life before a certain date— retrograde amnesia, I suppose you could call it (who calls BS on this refusal?! She is next in line to rule for goodness sake) !

There were a LOT of POVs in this novel but it wasn’t confusing at all... the story was SO brilliantly crafted in such a unique way! For two of the four MCs, the two that struck me as the “actual” main characters, Lin & Jovis (ahhhh I love Jovis! With his kind heart, charm, & his adorable, if not mysterious, animal companion Mephi! I LOVE human/ animal bonds in books & boy did this deliver! Jovis is easily my bias 😉), each of their narratives were written in first person. The “secondary” main characters’, Phalue & Ranami, narratives were written in third person— as was the fifth POV, who is a mysterious, less prominent (for now? 🤔) character, Sand... which was just a GENIUS move on the author’s part ! This tactic really added tons of layers to the story & the characters themselves, and kind of made each character, as well as the separate storylines stand out from one another in an extremely clever way. It added so much DEPTH & INTRIGUE!

Honestly, even though YAAA(!) the questions I am left with(!!!), everything came together in such a satisfying, powerful way; it left me SO hyped for book 2 in the trilogy! Also. I just love when, after reading about the characters through different POVs, they finally cross paths! Most satisfying feeling everrr in books formatted this way!

I mean, FOR DAMN REAL, agreed?! Best ever.

I loved that the author included LGBTQIA+ characters, as well... that always makes my heart happy. Even if Phalue & Ranami weren’t my FAVORITE characters, I still loved the hell out of them. Represent! 😉

I have only one complaint and that is that The Bone Shard Daughter was way too short! (Which I suppose isn’t a complaint after all, but a compliment ☺️). The novel focused very heavily on world building and character development, so even though every single page was pure excellence... when shit hit the fan it just ended TOO QUICKLY!


Also, I NEED a Mephi of my own (though my sphynx cat, Lyra, comes close :P)! Omg I am obsessed, obsessed, obsessed!!!

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR— READ THIS! It sucks you right in from the very first page. Amazing, amazing, AMAZING novel. This gets an A+ from me, kids! 10/10 recommend !

(Seriously, I am like a step away from shouting from my rooftop about this book, both to inform people of its existence, & inform them of it’s life-changing, simple perfection... *sighs*

🤔 I think it will have to be SEVERAL rooftops that I must shout from... effectively annoying several neighborhoods ;-)... BUT ITS JUST THAT AMAZING!)
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,485 reviews190 followers
December 30, 2021
UPDATE 23/12/2021 - Hmmm. I did not love this as much the second time around. The second half was infinitely better than the first! I'm going to have to change my rating to 4 Stars on reread. (Update on update) Nope that doesn't quite feel right. I'm going for 4.5 Stars rounded up to 5. I just love the characters and world too much to give it any less. However, I think because I knew all the big reveals it impacted my reread.

UPDATE 21/12/2021 - Rereading in preparation to read book 2!

Well that was, quite frankly, superb!

A masterclass in world building with a complex and fascinating magical system. The characters were totally engaging, fully developed, endearing, and I felt emotionally invested in their journeys. The story itself was enthralling and the different threads of the plot were seamlessly woven together.

I need to know more. More about the world. More about the magic. More about the incredible creatures. Just. MORE!

Love love loved it!
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
418 reviews459 followers
May 31, 2021
4.5 Stars

I will make no bones about it: This brilliant fantasy debut has announced Andrea Stewart as quite possibly the best newcomer of the year.

Bone. Shard. Magic. How intriguing does that sound?!?! I’m a sucker for a cool magic system and the sound of that sold me instantly. Having finished this book speedily, I can honestly say you would be wrong if you thought that was the final mark under this book’s coolness column. We’re talking migrating islands, lost ancient civilizations, wet and dry seasons that last for years if not decades, mythical creatures, people mysteriously disappearing, and other inexplicable magic. I fully understand if you stop reading this review about now to go and place that pre-order. Excellent choice in supporting this author if I may so.

“The construct looked nothing so much as a giant spider, dark brown and glistening, as tall as my chest when it stood to attention. Human hands were attached to the end of each of its spindly legs, and an old woman’s face adorned the abdomen.”

The bare bones of this story consist of an empire ruled by bone magic. At a certain young age, every citizen is required to part with a shard of their skull that will then make its way to the stores of the emperor, ready for use in the powering of bone constructs that serve and protect the islands of the empire and the inhabitants. This magic is wielded solely by the emperor and his heirs and is the only thing that stands between the empire and the return of the Alanga; an ancient civilization that ruled these islands hundreds of years ago through terrifying powers.

“All the Alanga had powers, but their rulers had more than most. When one island’s ruler fought with another, the clash of their magics had killed so many hapless bystanders. Enormous walls of water, windstorms that flattened cities. The greatest of them, Dione, could drown a city while saving all the flies, but most Alanga didn’t have that level of control.
What could mere mortals do against such power? “

The cost of employing this magic is not one the emperor has to pay though, but rather the citizens of the empire. When the shards are embedded in constructs, the shard donor’s life starts ebbing away. They might not notice it early on, feeling only a weakening at first, a deep weariness as their constant companion. There is nothing to be done when your shard has been chosen, and the shard-sickness can happen to any person at any time. It’s so gradual that most don’t notice until the end when the decline is quick. Death swiftly follows, and it’s victims are always cheated out of years of life. But the people are no longer so accepting. Many believe that the Alanga are never coming back, that the emperor’s demand for shards is unnecessary and barbaric. Add in the worrying fact that one of the main islands that make up the empire just inexplicable sank into the ocean, taking thousands to a watery grave (I see what you did with the series name Andrea Stewart!) and it’s no wonder the tensions are high and things are about to come to a boiling point. And that’s where our main characters come in, each with a part to play.

An heir to the empire, fighting for the right to learn the magic which will keep her future kingdom safe. A nobleman’s daughter struggling with her loyalties and the need to do what is right whilst navigating the struggles of her relationship with a commoner who also has a POV. A roguish smuggler with a heart of gold and his animal companion who is going to steal many hearts and star-of-the-show awards, and lastly an enigmatic character with no memory of who she is, where she is, or what her purpose is.

I found it extremely easy to love and root for these characters, with Andrea Stewart writing each with a very distinctive personality and showing particular finesse and skill portraying their inner struggles as well as the characters’ varying relationships and the accompanying complexities on-page. The writing falls into that wonderful category of being so naturally easy to read that it fades into the background, immersing you so deeply into the story you hardly realise that just one more chapter has become a mantra. This in itself is always an achievement with a debut, as authors often only find their feet or groove after a few books, but not so here. The prose is polished, the pacing is excellent and the story is gripping to the very end, leaving quite a few questions unanswered whilst still delivering many revelations and culminating in a satisfying finish.

“We all tell ourselves stories of who we are, and in my mind, I was always the hero. But I wasn’t. Not in all the ways I should have been.”

Without a doubt, the Bone Shard Daughter is a superb opener to The Drowning Empire trilogy that delivers on its promising premise with a highly entertaining story. I am extremely eager to see what direction Andrea Stewart takes with this story and have no qualms in recommending this one to all fantasy readers.

This beautiful art was done by Heather Brockman Lee


Official release date:
10 September 2020 by Orbit (UK) & 8 September 2020 by Orbit (US)

You can pre-order the book from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository (Free shipping)
Bookshop (Support Local Bookstores.)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

I received an ARC of The Bone Shard Daughter (Orbit) in exchange for an honest review.

• You can find this review and more at Novel Notions
Profile Image for Ellie.
573 reviews2,085 followers
September 28, 2020

Anyway. When TBSD was acquired by Orbit, I was pretty interested by the premise. I'm glad that I found that the premise lived up to my hopes, as I really enjoyed this debut novel. It was set in a beautiful world full of moving islands and man-made monsters formed from people's bones called constructs and the remnants of a powerful civilisation now long-defeated (. . . or are they?)

TBSD follows five characters:

> Lin, the daughter of the Emperor.

> Jovis, a half-Empirean, half-Poyer smuggler.

> Phalue, the daughter of one of the island's governors (she's a hardcore jock sapphic I love her lmao)

> Ranami, Phalue's girlfriend and member of the rebellion plotting against the governor of the island (and by extension, the Emperor).

> Sand, a woman missing her memories on an island full of people also with missing memories.

Jovis and Lin are the central characters out of the five. Arguably, Jovis is the central central character, as he gets the most page time, and Lin second, and then the rest. Phalue, Ranami and Sand are also all in third person, whereas Lin and Jovis are in first. Now, I was so invested in the story by the time the tense changed from first to third, I did not notice that at all until my buddy readers pointed it out. I think this attests to Stewart's writing style, which I found very easily readable.

I'll confess that at first I was like 'I came here to read about the daughter of the emperor who makes strange bone constructs, not another male smuggler smh' . . . and then Jovis won me over. Partially this is because Jovis gains a baby animal companion early on called Mephi, and though the actual kind of creature he is is never clearly specified, I think a later book will place him as a dragon. Jovis also had the most active narrative early on, whereas Lin's is very character-focused and actually doesn't start moving until halfway through. But do not mistake me, by the end of the novel, Lin's narrative is . . . well, it sets up some really exciting stuff for book two. There are also some incredible plot twists (two, actually) I didn't see coming which linked to her narrative and fuel my excitement for the sequel.

But on the note of the pacing, I think for some this book won't appeal as strongly because it's very much a first-in-a-series development novel. It has the purpose of setting up what look to be action-packed sequels filled with political drama, revelations and rebellion. (Exciting.) Not enough will be happening for some (i.e. at 50% through, neither I nor my buddy readers were sure where the plot was heading), but if you make it through, you're rewarded with a very cool ending and the promise of more. If you have reading tastes like mine/enjoy character development and a slower build up, you'll be enjoying the character development and Stewart's lovely world and writing, and it'll be enough to keep you going.

Now, another reason I came to this book was for the sapphics! Yes, I'll always come for sapphics. But I'll confess, before reading this novel I thought Lin was going to be the one with a f/f relationship, and then when I learned she wasn't . . . well, I did some mental rearranging. But Phalue and Ranami are the book's resident sapphics, and they're a pre-established couple. Phalue has been trying to propose to Ranami forever, and Ranami keeps rejecting her because she doesn't want to be the wife of a future governor. What's really nice about these two is that: a) they are the central romance in the book because the other 3 characters don't have romance subplots (or any romance subplots that come to fruition within this book); b) they have a class difference (Phalue being the daughter of the governor), and TBSD engages with that. Class difference isn't actually something I see a lot, especially in fantasy novels, so this was interesting to me; and c) there was absolutely no conflict derived from them being queer. They were queer, and people were okay with that. Queerness is normalised within the world of TBSD, which is excellent. At the end of the book, I kinda see where their narrative is going, but in the end it's also not as important as Jovis' or Lin's. I would've liked it to be more active, but we'll see where it goes in future books.

The worldbuilding of this novel is really gorgeous, being set in an Empire comprised of moving islands (I hope the finished copies have maps . . . ) with remnants of an ancient Alanga civilisation that was defeated by a Sukai, who became the first Emperor of the islands. Every inhabitant of this empire gets a bone shard taken from them as a child, which is then used to power the hybrid animal-esque bone constructs that serve under the emperor.

As a note though, this book is being comp'd to THE POPPY WAR/for fans of TPW and beyond them both being under the umbrella of Asian fantasy, I just want to put out there that if you are reading them because of this . . . don't necessarily come into this expecting the same kind of story? THE POPPY WAR (if you haven't read it . . . well, read it) is grimdark military fantasy; TBSD isn't. TBSD has a very different narrative. The worldbuilding of the two are different, taking influences from different parts of East Asian culture. (On that note, TPW has way more of a historical influence too.) Both are awesome though, and worth a read.

For the first time in forever, I now have to wait FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR for the sequel *screams* I really am very excited about where book two will go, because it's set up to be epic. (Also because that ancient Alanga (?) civilisation seems to be returning . . . I love 'rise of ancient civilisation' tropes.) I also have no clue how many books are going to be in this series, but I assume it's a trilogy?

Anyway, read THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER if you want a new Asian-inspired high fantasy to become invested in, and don't mind a slightly less action-packed first book.

> 4.2 stars

you can also read this review on my blog here


bone magic + asian ownvoices + sapphics = happy me

edit: ok the author has watched the untamed and talked about best boy wei wuxian on twitter and by law I'm now required to rate this book highly

this is being marked as perfect for fans of the poppy war, so I'm buddy reading it with the poppy war addict club/queen kuang fan club: featuring may, our fearless captain, my fellow brit ilsa, and . . . me

Thank you to Orbit UK for sending me the most gorgeous proof I've seen
Profile Image for Nicholas Eames.
Author 6 books5,449 followers
July 14, 2020
Holy smokes, this book was good. It's got a setting that's more unique than anything I've read in a long time, and the TWISTS! About half way through I thought...Oh, I think I know what's coming. But reader: I DID NOT! Looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here!
Profile Image for Xiran Jay Zhao.
Author 4 books9,768 followers
September 24, 2020
cosplay of Lin Sukai

Personal Rating: I’d give my bone shard to Lin to command as she wishes, except she wouldn’t take it because she’s too good for that 🥺

Reasons to Read: Asian-inspired queer-normalizing world, clever magic system that works like coding, sci-fi post-humanism tropes told in a fantasy way, determined protagonists, adorable animal companion

So, I never liked the strict division of sci-fi versus fantasy in publishing. My favorite works tend to be those that combine the tropes of both, especially sci-fi with grand, beautiful worldbuilding. This is the first epic fantasy I’ve read that borrows brilliantly from sci-fi tropes, though. Its magic system made me go WHOAAA OMG once I realized it worked like coding. Basically, the empire takes a bone shard from behind everyone’s ear when they’re 8, then if you carve the right commands on the shards in a special language, they can remotely drain the person’s lifeforce to power magical constructs made of animal parts. BUT, if the commands don’t work with each other, it can cause the whole construct to break down. (Where are the programmers out there…relatable content for you.)

The empire spans hundreds of drifting islands and was established by the Sukai family, who defeated the Alanga people that once ruled the islands with their supernatural powers. The Tithing Festival that gathers the bone shards necessary for magic is a painful and dangerous one, with one wrong move meaning the chisel could hit the brain and kill the kid, but the empire justifies it by constantly warning its citizens about how the Alanga might come back. Though by the start of the story, this fear of the Alanga isn’t strong enough to pacify people anymore, so revolutions are brewing in every corner of the empire. It doesn’t help that the emperor has holed up in his palace to focus on bone shard magic experiments instead of keeping the political system running.

The chief protagonist is the emperor’s daughter Lin, who was meant to be his heir but now faces intense competition from his adopted son Bayan because she lost all her memories 5 years ago. The emperor keeps most rooms in the palace locked and makes Lin and Bayan compete for the keys to unlock them and gain more knowledge. To prove herself worthy of the throne, Lin decides to pull off a string of heists to steal the emperor’s keys and secretly learn the bone shard magic he has kept from her. Determined, hard-working protagonists are my favorite, and she shines as exactly that from the very first chapter. As she claws for more power, she also grapples with the ethics of using this magic at the expense of other people’s lifeforces–is it justified if she’s trying to hold the empire together and save people from warfare everywhere? The direction her story takes is pretty surprising as she uncovers layer after layer of the mysteries behind what her father is really doing.

Another major protagonist is Jovis, a smuggler who has faced discrimination all his life because he is half Poyer, a minority people not native to the empire. He has spent the 7 years prior to the story searching for his abducted wife, even making deals with a notorious gang to get a boat to sail the islands. Early on, when an island he’s on sinks into the Endless Sea, he rescues the kitten / otter-like creature Mephi, who is utterly adorable and becomes his animal companion. To Jovis’ enormous surprise, Mephi turns out to be no ordinary animal. Not only does he slowly learn to talk, his presence starts giving Jovis superhuman powers to fight off the gang members chasing him across the islands to collect the debt he owes. Jovis finds himself rescuing a string of children from the Tithing Festivals, then as his notoriety grows, he gets roped into helping the underground resistance against the empire. He starts off very practical and cynical, only saving kids for money and not believing in the possibility of a revolution, but slowly comes into the responsibility of using his powers to help those who need it. He has a valid point in that most revolutionaries end up becoming tyrants themselves, though. I appreciated how the rebels in this book were not portrayed as selfless saviors, but possibly shady people who have their own agendas. It made the conflict less black and white and kept you guessing at how everything would resolve all the way until the end.

HOWEVER, the book does have one wide-eyed, idealistic revolutionary in the form of bookseller Ranami, who is in a relationship with the sword-bearing, armor-wearing Phalue, daughter of her island’s governor. Ranami and Phalue are an amazingly complex F/F couple who love each other very much, but struggle with sorting out their political differences. Ranami has tried many times to get Phalue to pay more attention to the issues on their island, but Phalue believes her father’s feudal system is a fair exchange and that those who starve just don’t work hard enough. Phalue thinks she’s qualified to make this judgment because she’s Not Like Other Aristocrats. She doesn’t care for luxuries, gives to the gutter orphans whenever she can, has a commoner mother, and interacts often with commoners.

I think we’ve all struggled with this type of “come on, it can’t be THAT bad!” people (or were one of them), so I found Phalue and Ranami’s plot thread to be the most compelling of the book. (It’s not just because they’re amazing F/F rep, I swear!!). It takes Phalue a realistically long time to truly understand what Ranami has been saying to her for years, though she still starts off as a decent and interesting person, so you don’t dislike her for what she initially believes. But the book’s point is that merely “being decent” is not acceptable when it comes to addressing oppression. If you have the power to change things for the better but you don’t choose to, you are still complacent in the exploitation of others.

This timely theme of “you should do more” runs through the entire book. Ultimately, I find the Bone Shard Daughter to be a story about all the ways an authoritarian regime can go unchecked because of fear and acquiescence, and how those with the power to make even the slightest things better have the responsibility to do so. It actually reads like a cyberpunk tale, except it takes place on beautiful and fantastical islands instead of urban cities (though there IS constant rain too!). It’s definitely a very unique book, so I absolutely recommend checking it out.

Full review and more cosplay shots on my blog
Find me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube
Profile Image for Rebecca Roanhorse.
Author 56 books7,397 followers
December 22, 2020
A solid debut. Original and creative, strong voice and an interesting plot full of mystery and startling turns.

The title threw me off a bit, making me think this was YA (it is not), and so I kept thinking the protagonist Lin was much younger than she is, which is relevant to the plot and keeps it out of creeper territory when all is revealed. In Lin's defense, there is also a reason she seems younger than she is, also revealed. Four (five?) POV characters whose stories begin to weave together, and will no doubt get tighter as the series continues. Some surprising plot directions that I truly appreciated. Interesting, multi-faceted characters and various perspectives on the nature of rebellion, leadership, community and the individual.

Many mysteries posed, some solved but not all. Setting up for an interesting Book 2. Will be reading.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,028 reviews2,809 followers
March 16, 2023
4.0 Stars
I really enjoyed this fantasy debut that blends together political intrigue with a dark, intricate magic system. 

I am happy to say that I found both of the main perspectives to be equally engaging. Lin felt young and naive, but it made sense with her backstory. Jovis was the wonderfully sauve character with the added bonus of an adorable animal companion. 

I particularly enjoyed the precision of the hard magic system, which felt reminiscent of the "coding" in Foundryside. The story played into several modern tropes, but they were tropes that I personally enjoy. The story read young at time, making it a good entry point for YA readers looking to move into adult fantasy. Yet there was enough underlying darkness in the story to appease an adult reader like myself.

I was able to predict certain parts of the plot but that did not take away from my overall enjoyment. I am very excited to jump into the second book in this series. I would definitely recommend this series to any avid fantasy reader.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
832 reviews3,724 followers
March 31, 2021
We all tell ourselves stories of who we are, and in my mind, I was always the hero. But I wasn't. Not in all the ways I should have been.

The Bone Shard Daughter might fool you with its generic YA sounding title, but fear not : at its heart you'll find a captivating tale of dark magic, power, oppression and rebellion. I've been blessed with wonderful fantasy novels this year, with fantastic sets of complex characters, yet The Bone Shard Daughter barged into my favorite list on page one.


Truly, the way I was instantly absorbed in every chapter is a testament of how great The Bone Shard Daughter is, because my reading has been all over the place this past week (I blame Rogue Legacy 2). But even though I only read little chunks of it each time, I never felt disconnected from the characters but on the contrary, I can say without doubt that they never ceased to delight and interest me.

But first of all, meet Mephi :

Ahhh, to live in a Fantasy novel and have a baby otter as a sidekick 😭

Mephi, now as tall as my knee, pressed his body against my leg. "We do a very good," he said in a stage whisper.
For what felt like the thousandth time, I made a lowering gesture with my hand.
"A very good,' he said, only a little more quietly.

Now that it's settled : the characters are indubitably where The Bone Shard Daughter first shines.

At the top of this world, we have an old emperor and its bone-shard constructs ;
▪ his daughter, Lin, craving her father's approval and the return of her long-lost memories ;
▪ his foster son, Bayan, with whom Lin is engaged in a fierce competition ;
Jovis, a heartbroken smuggler who's been looking for his wife and who wants you to know that if he sometimes does the right thing, it's with reluctance, he's not a good person, thank you very much ;
Mephi, Jovis' sidekick, who may or may not be a baby otter;
Phalue, a governor's daughter whose girlfriend, Ramani, wants her to open her eyes on the harsh class inequalities carried on by her family ;
▪ finally - Sand, a woman who doesn't know why she's been picking mangoes for weeks now (or is that months? years?).

They're no heroes. They're no villains either, but all of them are somewhat morally grey, and if at times I felt uncomfortable and even sick to my stomach because of some of their actions, I'm grateful for that. I don't think this story could have benefited from more selfless characters. It just wouldn't ring true, would it? They're so lovable, though.


Moreover, the pacing was fantastic and sprinting through this 400+ pages novel felt effortless. The combination of alternative points of view - in first or third POV depending on the character, but it never felt jarring - and carefully staged revelations truly did wonders . Every chapter ended on a cliffhanger of sorts : it was so deliciously frustrating, I loved it. There's no info-dump but rather, pieces of info about the world and its history were weaved into the plot beautifully. Some plot points I guessed, but it didn't ruin the story for me but on the contrary, we're meant to in my opinion and it made me burst with anticipation. Most developments, though? I didn't expect them, and with hindsight perhaps I should have. But isn't it the best when it happens? When revelations make you look back and smile - or gasp - in wonder?

It felt like I was digging the end of the tool into my soul, scratching irreversible words into its surface.
But it was done.

Bottom line: The climax had me riveted, clutching my book as only favorites can. November cannot come soon enough, because I need to know where Andrea Stewart will take her characters after this amazing ending.

Content Warnings : Violence; death of loved ones (off-page); depictions of blood, grief, and gore; torture (off-page); cutting into skin (not self-harm); amnesia or memory loss; drowning; murder and death

It would mean the world to me if you'd visit my new blog!
Profile Image for Overhaul.
230 reviews554 followers
January 14, 2022
¿Cuánto pagarías por descubrir la verdad?

Puntuación: 🦴🦴🦴

La Hija de los Huesos, es el primer libro de la trilogía "El Imperio Hundido" de Andrea Stewart. La historia tiene lugar en un imperio que consta de muchas islas. En estas islas, la magia de fragmentos de hueso ejercida por el emperador alimenta todo tipo de monstruosas quimeras, llamadas constructos, hacen cumplir la ley y el orden. Durante décadas, el ya viejo emperador ha reinado con absoluta firmeza, pero ahora su gobierno está fallando, rumores de revolución viajan a través de las islas del Imperio.

Aquí tenemos a uno de los personajes principales, Lin, la hija y heredera del emperador que pasó sus días atrapada en un palacio de puertas cerradas y secretos; Ella está haciendo todo lo posible para ganarse el respeto y la aprobación de su padre al dominar el arte prohibido de la magia de fragmentos de huesos. También debe descubrir los secretos detrás de sus recuerdos fracturados. Es la trama que más me gustó y más misterio y revelaciones aportó.

Revolución, justicia, identidad, secretos, poder y familia son algunos de los temas principales de este libro, y Stewart ejecutó muy bien estos aspectos a través de su elenco de personajes. Las cosas están a punto de llegar a un punto de ebullición. Es donde entran nuestros personajes principales, todos con un papel que desempeñar.

Este libro cuenta con múltiples puntos de vista: Lin y Jovis en primera persona y los demás en tercera. Puede parecer raro o intimidante para algunos, pero su autora lo hizo a la perfección, y me gustó cómo cada perspectiva se entrelazaba lentamente en un gran tapiz. Poco a poco vemos que todo va llegando a un punto en concreto y la última parte del libro, un 40% tiene varios giros, algunos predecibles otros no, algunos un tanto siniestros y retorcidos, me sorprendió.

La base de esta historia es un poderoso imperio gobernado por la magia de los huesos. A cierta edad, se requiere y obliga que cada ciudadano se desprenda a través de cierto proceso de un fragmento de su cráneo, detrás de la oreja que luego se abrirá camino hacia el emperador, para usarlos como el suministro de energía para los diferentes constructos, que sirven y protegen las islas del imperio y los habitantes.

Magia ejercida únicamente por el emperador y sus herederos. Esta magia es lo único que se interpone entre el imperio y el regreso de Alanga; una antigua civilización que gobernó estas islas hace cientos de años a través de poderes aterradores, divinos. Pero todo tiene su precio, el costo de emplear esta magia no es uno que deba pagar el emperador, más bien los ciudadanos del imperio. Cuando los fragmentos están incrustados en los constructos, la vida del donante de fragmentos comienza a menguar.

Ahora bien, vamos a la parte negativa, al menos para mi. El libro tiene un contra y esta en sus tramas, o mejor dicho, esos inicios de tramas. Pues hasta un 35% no sabemos hacia donde va la historia, no digo que no sea interesante esa parte del libro, o aburrida, al menos no lo fue para mí, ahí cada uno deberá comprobarlo.

En esa parte del libro conocemos este mundo a sus personajes y sus vidas. Pero, hablamos de fantasía épica, uno desea y quiere que lleguen esas partes, que todo despegue cogiendo más fuerza. Por suerte esto llega, solo que hay que tener cierta paciencia. La historia a partir de ahí toma un rumbo distinto, más interesante y rápida. Unos cuantos giros. Te deja con la miel en la boca aún cuando su final es más o menos "conclusivo". Esos giros, en los que algunos se ven venir, otros no, hasta los hay retorcidos y algunas revelaciones, cuando la historia coge velocidad y un destino, admito que casi me hace dudar y sacar mi lado compasivo. Pero no dejan de ser unas 190 páginas o más hasta que toma fuerza hacia algo, 190 páginas de las que cada lector opinará.

Pero aunque ese tanto por ciento sea necesario sin ser aburrido, tiene buenos personajes, ideas notables y un buen sistema mágico, he decidido quitarle dos estrellas por ello. Otros no lo veréis así, otros sí o peor, ya sabemos como funciona esto. No vine a este libro con ese famoso "hype" eso siempre suele favorecer. Es un libro muy entretenido que cumplió. Grandes ideas bien llevadas que hace visible una continuación que seguramente alcance las 5 estrellas. Que estas 3 estrellas no os desanimen, es subjetivo, puede pasaros o no y, disfrutarlo 100%.

Los personajes están muy bien escritos y cada personaje es único a su manera. Se desarrollan todos a lo largo de la historia. Lo que más llamó mi atención es el sistema de magia, no es nada enrevesado ni muy complicado, algo oscuro y retorcido. Me recordó un poco a un lenguaje de programación, son comandos en fragmentos de huesos y los insertan en los constructos. No se si hay más cosillas, que cabeza, os toca leer.

En su narrativa. La autora nos lleva a través de cuatro historias diferentes de cuatro narradores diferentes, y lo hace con cierta precisión narrativa. Cada personaje tiene un capítulo, y dentro de los capítulos sus vidas se superponen, amigos y enemigos y otros antecedentes y experiencias, motivaciones y elecciones todas diferentes. Sobresale con una buena nota en el llamado worldbuilding, es intrincado, te atrae, puedes verlo en tu mente, también lo cubre una capa de misterio.

Exploraremos temas de identidad, personalidad un imperio, y a los personajes principales que se involucran en secretos, rebeliones subterráneas y magia. Tenemos muchas piezas en movimiento, pero se unen de una manera satisfactoria que te deja deseando el próximo libro. Ansioso por aprender más sobre la misteriosa historia de las islas y lo que sucederá a continuación dado el final. Es interesante notar es que este libro explora un tema que en mi corta trayectoria como lector veo más en la Ciencia Ficción que en la fantasía, ¿Qué hace a alguien humano? El emperador crea estas criaturas que solo deben seguir órdenes codificadas a través de la magia en ellas, pero, ¿Qué pasaría si cobrasen vida propia, si ciertas ordenes se superponen?

Fantasía épica, múltiples perspectivas con unos personajes interesantes, un mundo expansivo y un sistema mágico curioso que tiene elementos técnicos. Tiene algunos problemas menores con el ritmo, equilibrando varias historias y por ello haciendo que algunas revelaciones sean obvias. Sin embargo, también creo que es una historia épica e inventiva con unos personajes que fue un placer seguirlos. La autora, Andrea Stewart posee una escritura muy prometedora y espero más de esta nueva voz en la fantasía.

Os toca a vosotras queridas amistades leerlo si os llama e interesa. Espero que lo disfrutéis y será un placer leer vuestras impresiones. Todo vuestro. 🙋‍♂️
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,014 reviews1,405 followers
November 17, 2020
Lin is the Emperor's daughter. The empire her father rules spans innumerable islands and he closely guards them with his intricate creations, an infusion of the bodies of animals with the bones of his still-living population. Lin is an apprentice in this magical skill but is just as focused on honing this craft as she is earning her father's love. His love comes with his esteem and both are hard fought for, with her father's foster-son ever ready to take her place as heir to the throne and number one object of her father's affections.

These palace squabbles pale in the face of the discontent darkening distant empire shores, with rebellious uprisings, criminals at large, and whole islands disappearing into the sea, but all have a bearing on the future for all the doomed citizens who dwell there.

I adored absolutely ever aspect of this book. Each of the five perspectives were of interest and there was never an individual I was more eager to return to. I will admit that the animal Mephi stole my heart, however!

The magical system played as large a focus as the rife political discontent and I was intrigued by the interplay of the two. I found them both endlessly interesting aspects to explore. The magic was unique in its construction and continued to be built upon throughout. The reader and the characters were invited to heighten their understanding together, further enhancing the bond I had with them. The political focus involved rebellious gangs, espionage, failed heists, and all the action and intrigue I could desire to read about.

Basically, this was an all-round well-constructed, endlessly fascinating, emotionally wrought, and conflict-heavy narrative, of which I adored every single aspect, character, and page. The Bone Shard Daughter is the latest novel by Chinese American author, Amanda Stewart, and it is QUEER, MAGICAL, and FEMINIST. Need I say anymore??
Profile Image for Aoife - Bookish_Babbling.
285 reviews303 followers
May 28, 2021
Intriguing intro into a new fantasy world set up on migratory islands that are just entering the start of the 7year rainy season - first off, whut?!
Second, erm....no thank you to water falling for such an extended period from the sky! I've had my fill after 2-4weeks here ⛈🌦🌧🌩

It's been a while since I read this so can't really remember who we meet first but there is a good cast of characters. Jovis a smuggler on the run from many and searching for his wife, Lin the Emperor's daughter and heir apparent - if only she could remember. Phalue & Ranami bringing new meaning to lovers from different sides of the tracks in a mostly established and accepted sapphic relationship that I was here for and lastly Sand who is an enigma even to themselves 😈
Some PoVs were more interesting than others & each eventually interlinking storyline has left me with so many questions that I cannot wait for the next book!
Mephi/Meffy is my absolute fav tho, no contest even if I am not sure how to spell the name because I audiobooked - read this + tell me I'm wrong & they're not the hands down best 🤩

We barely scratched the surface on the magic system as we're initially introduced to one way of using magic involving bone shards which are "donated"/sacrificed by every inhabitant of the Empire at a certain age that create these guardian type "creatures" with coding who report to the Emperor. These sound like a fascinating hodge podge and the way they can be tricked/reasoned with reminded me of Clef in Foundryside. I need to Google artwork to supplement my poor imagination...there is so much more to the shard magic but I don't want to risk giving too much away! 🤐
As the story unfolds it appears other magic/powers may be reawakening, but I am not sure about this as secrecy surrounds the disappearance of the previous ruling class so I do not know if the latter revelations are connected to this or not...thus the need for book2 soon plz!

Some of the characters had more enticing storylines/stronger voices than others. Hence not quite a 5* read, but the way the story unfolds from the different intros to how paths eventually cross and the hints + scattered breadcrumbs for reveals kept the pages turning...Well you know what I mean! I couldn't hit pause on the audio 🤗
There are so many cogs in motion, plenty players on the board and presumably more yet to appear as memories become sharper - I am dying to see what comes next!

Highly recommend listening to the audio if inclined. Multi-cast audios are my faves & I adore alternating PoV storytelling so this set off on the right foot for me even before the world building, characters and magic properly kicked in; which all combined make it a winner...I am so curious for the next book to see what's to come as mentioned before I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS!

If anyone else has read this, please indulge me with spoiler tagged comments 😎


PS - I am still such a sucker for an eye catching cover
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,949 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.