Monday, November 29, 2021

Review: The Bone Shard Emperor (The Drowning Empire #2) by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Emperor (The Drowning Empire #2) by Andrea Stewart
Publication Date: November 23rd, 2021
Hardcover. 416 pages.

About The Bone Shard Daughter:

"Andrea Stewart returns with The Bone Shard Emperor, the second installment of this unmissable, action-packed, magic-laced fantasy epic. 

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?"

Compelling characters, an expansive world, and a unique magic system are the stars of the latest installment of The Drowning Empire trilogy by Andrea Stewart. The Bone Shard Emperor is one of those books that completely surprised me in all of the best ways. I don't know what I expected when starting this book, but it certainly wasn't that I would be completely hooked from page one and utterly compelled by every page after that. 

In this sequel, Lin and Phalue have both attained power in their respective stations and must now figure out how to best lead their people and gain their trust back after their father's disastrous legacies. Jovis is now Lin's Captain of the Imperial Guard, and Ranami is here to support Phalue and continue on her previous goals. The Shardless Few remain a threat, although now there is a bigger question slowly rising in the midst, that of the return of the mysterious Alanga. I think what worked best for me in this book is that everything established from the events of the first book and we now get to follow each character as they learn how to navigate their new roles. This setup worked really for me and allowed me to quickly and easily fall back into the world and writing of this series. 

Our POV alternates mostly between Lin and Jovis, as well as a lesser amount of chapters featuring Phalue and Ranami. Two of my favorite things about all of these characters are their multi-faceted personalities and the fact that they all fall into a more morally grey area than not. Lin and Jovis, in particular, stand out as being two characters that are constantly striving to do what they think is the best for their circumstances and those around them, but whose decisions as a result may not always be perceived as the best or most "moral" by all around them. In this installment, Lin is now struggling with how to be the best emperor she can be after her father's harmful legacy, a task that is challenging on a wide variety of levels. Her decisions are not always perhaps the "best" or loved by all, but she is stubborn in her decisions to stick to doing what she thinks will help the Empire the most. Of course, her stubbornness is also part of downfall in many regards, and that is what really makes her a particularly compelling character to follow.

I would be remiss not to mention my two favorite characters in this book, Thrana and Mephi. Thrana and Mephi are both creatures that have somewhat mysterious origins at the start of the series and I have absolutely adored learning more about their personalities as well as their own purpose and roles in the series. Although Mephi is a clever, adorable troublemaker whom I love, I have to say that Thrana has really stolen my heart in this book with her quiet, sensitive strength and personality. 

One of the most interesting and inventive aspects of this novel is the magic system itself, which involves constructs, bone shards, and engravings. This magic system seems somewhat simple at the outset, but is far more complex than you might think. Additionally, The Bone Shard Emperor brings with it even more new magic to learn about that is even more mysterious, and it was particularly interesting to learn more about the ways in which various components of this world and its magic may tie together. The world-building ties in nicely with the magic system as well, and I really enjoyed getting to explore some new areas in this book and experience some of the current problems occurring there, as well as ones that continue to arise. 

Although I liked The Bone Shard Daughter, I have to admit that I wasn't completely sold on the series and wasn't sure what to expect from the sequel–I actually thought that there was a good chance I'd DNF it (something that I'm feeling pretty badly about now!). I am so glad that something in my gut told me to keep trying with this triloy, because this sequel really makes me excited to read the next installment. I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a new fantasy with well-written characters, a unique and compelling plot, and a fascinating world and magic system. 

Overall, I've given The Bone Shard Emperor 4.75 stars! I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.

*I received a copy of The Bone Shard Emperor courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Indiebound |

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