Spoilers mentioned for The Bone Shard Daughter, first book in the series.
A new Emperor, betrayal, secrets and more and more bone shard magic. Today is my stop on the Compulsive Readers blog tour for The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart, sequel to the excellent book The Bone Shard Daughter!
The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor.
Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the north-east of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force.
Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. They claim they come in peace, and Lin will need their help in order to defeat the rebels and restore peace.
But can she trust them?
This is as book I’ve been waiting for all year. And it’s certainly been worth the wait. Last year I when I reviewed The Bone Shard Daughter, I remember thinking that the book really kept the reader at a distant. It had so many layers to it, a mystery, a bloody magic system, a girl with missing memories, an island with people there with no real idea why. After the explosive conclusion and having read the sequel, the book isn’t messing around this time. Everything is happening and we can do nothing about it.
Following multiple points of view, we land right back with Lin and Jovis again. Scrabbling to take her fathers empire before it turns on her, Lin is once again trying to unravel her fathers plans he left behind. Now with her companion, Thrana, she aims to unravel what he was keeping under the castle. Meanwhile Jovis, hero of the people and now Captain of Lin’s guard, continues to struggle with his new powers. Alongside where his loyalties might lie. Now these two are excellently written. Both fishes out of water, both trying to figure out how to do their jobs that are far more than they bargained for. And of course, both are headstrong with lots of secrets from each other.
With the world set up so excellently in the previous book, Andrea Stewart really sought to give the characters more moments to stand and develop as their own. Lin, she wants to do better and she seeks to end the bloody Tithing Festival. Renouncing the bone shard magic that gave her the empire in the first place. But how does she handle the governors that want her to abdicate without it? Her internal struggle of trying to do better, help others and make some form of allies is so hard not to empathise with. Jovis now aware of his wife being absolutely dead all this years, has Mephi (YAY FOR MEPHI AND THRANA) and the support of the people. But does that give someone purpose or assure them of their beliefs? To make your story focus on a dichotomy of two characters trying to essentially do the same thing differently but make them is honestly such a good choice and the writing really speaks for itself there.
The other is the attention to the side characters, particularly Phalue and Ranami. Now married, both women are trying to learn their relationships parameters while now being wives and one of them a governor. I root a lot for Lin and Jovis when reading these books but I honestly did not expect to feel such an emotional tug for this pair. Honestly at one point when Phalue has to leave I was tearing up at Ranami’s narration of watching her wife leave. But I really love how these two have grown, Phalue especially but also unexpectedly Ranami. Now she has what she always wanted she has to confront her own paranoia and trauma of being a street urchin. She has to do what we saw Phalue doing in the last book; confronting herself.
While all this is happening, the stakes are higher than ever. We get a lot more about the Alanga in the book and I really loved that since this installment is really pushing back to Lin. So if no more tithing or bone shard magic, what now? And the details that are revealed about them as the story goes, as it’s woven among the struggles Lin faces against the Shardless few, the other governors of the empire and rogue constructs, Andrea Stewart manages the same thing she achieved so well in the last book. Building the world around the characters and telling the reader all they need to know so they don’t realise it until it is too late.
I really loved this, it’s a flawless sequel that is very different from the last book while also not dropping a single thread from it. Both The Bone Shard Daughter and The Bone Shard Emperor are available now for your reading joy. Thank you to Orbit Books for sending me a copy of the book for review and to Tracy for having me on the tour. Thanks for checking in as well and happy reading!