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Other books in the series:
The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1)
Why did I choose to read this book?
I read The Bone Shard Daughter back in January of 2021, and I checked my Amazon order history to find that I bought this book for full price (?!?!?!) more than a year ago and am only getting to it now. I chose to read this book because the first one was so goddamned weird and different from any other books I’ve read that I wanted more of the story. I am sorry I waited this long to read it and share my thoughts with you, but I am also glad that I waited to read it because then the time I have to wait between books for The Bone Shard War is that much shorter.
What is this book about?
Lin has become the new Emperor with Javis as her Captain of the Guard. They are planning how to bring all the islands in the empire under her rule as well as communicating how her rule will be different. Both Lin and Javis have animal companions who seem to lend them extra strength and special powers that might be the re-emergence of the Alanga, which Lin’s ancestors wiped out before coming to power over the entire empire. What they do with this power and how Lin draws away from the bone shard magic will define how successful she will be in cementing her rule.
What is notable about the story?
I love the connection between Lin and Javis and their ossalen Thrana and Mephi respectively. I think I might actually be more invested in the ossalen than in the human characters! I love that Stewart has shown me a new kind of fantasy to love: one where human and animal work side by side. The only other series I can remember right now that made me feel the same way was the first few books of the His Majesty’s Dragon series by Naomi Novik.
I also loved how honest the political intrigue was. Lin has a hard job in front of her convincing the various governors to back her in the war against the growing construct army, which is being built by someone else with access to the bone shard magic and used to attack the islands one at a atime. One governor is underhanded, another is backed into a corner by the Shardless Few organization, and another is upfront and honest. It’s an excellent tour through the empire and a true test for Lin to see if she understands the people that she wants to rule.
Was anything not so great?
I don’t have a lot to complain about with this one, and I usually do have a lot to say about books that are the middle child in a trilogy because they tend to sag under the weight of the exposition that was left out of book one in favor of the hook and the excitement. The Bone Shard Emperor does not fall prey to this common problem. The story moves at a decent pace and kept me interested from start to finish.
What it does do is something I say a lot in novels that tend toward companionship as a theme, and that is not every story has to be a love story. I don’t mind the love stories that are included here, and one of them makes sense with the characters involved, but…I don’t know. This is only a small gripe really, but one of the love stories feels forced/out of the characters’ control but not in a good way?
It’s probably just me being an old fuddy-duddy, don’t mind my whinging. It’s not even a bad thing, it’s just a teensy bit distracting from all the other amazing things about this book, so don’t worry about it. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter what you think if you do read it. I’m curious to see if you feel the same way.
What’s the verdict?
I gave this one a solid 5 stars on Goodreads because goddamn the story is amazing. I am salty about the ending though, (Stewart left my heart out on the ocean alone) but I will be patient because Stewart has earned it with her excellent writing and character development. My heart is in her capable hands.
If you love epic fantasy with cool magic systems and fantastical beasts, go get started on the Drowning Empire series. The Bone Shard War comes out in April of 2023 so get reading soon!
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