Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Review: THE BONE SHARD EMPEROR by Andrea Stewart


Rating: 4.75/5 stars

I really did not remember a lot of the first book when I started this one, but luckily after rereading my review and notes and talking to my husband who has also read the book, I fell back into the story pretty easily. 

Lin is now emperor after killing her father, Jovis is now the captain of the guard to Lin on Imperial Isle. Lin is looking for new political alliances, and she and Jovis spend a good portion of the novel traveling to different islands around the empire to speak to the local governors. 

“Rebellion didn’t come with instructions.” 

We all know I don’t like books set on boats, and even though a good portion of this book was Lin and Jovis sailing to various islands in the Empire, the story never really took place on the boat. Most of the story happens on the different islands. So I was pleased with that.

The Alanga people are returning, and with them, an ancient magic. This book focuses more on the magic of the Alanga than it does bone shard magic, mostly because Lin is making a conscious effort to stop the bone shard tithing in the empire and to dismantle all the constructs across the empire as an act of benevolence to her people. I always think it’s cool when stories have more than one form of magic in them, so it was nice to see something new being discussed here. 

Meanwhile, Nisong, who we knew as Sand in the first book, is organizing a revolution. I will not be speaking anymore on this matter. 

The Bone Shard Emperor held my interest throughout the entire story. Like the first book, every chapter ended in a way that made me keep reading to find out what happened next with that character, but then the POV would switch each chapter, so of course it was one continuous cycle of wanting to know what happened next until I finished the book. 

It wasn’t hard to keep the five POVs separate. In this book, however, there’s a heavy focus on Lin’s and Jovis’s perspectives, with Ranami’s, Phalue’s, and Nisong’s perspectives taking a backseat unless absolutely necessary. Since their characters have already been established in The Bone Shard Daughter, less time is spent on them here so more time can be dedicated to the primary storyline surrounding Lin.

This book, again like the first, is clean. There’s very little vulgar language, no sex (hardly any romance at all for that matter), violence but not graphic descriptions of it, and I really appreciate that. It is so hard to find clean fantasy books these days, so that alone makes this series stand out to me. 

But not only that, this series is just something new altogether. I guess it’s epic fantasy, but it doesn’t really feel like epic fantasy, even though it takes place in its own fictional world. People say it’s Asian-inspired, and maybe it is, but I don’t overtly get that vibe from it. The magic is a completely new and unique type of magic that I’ve never seen done before and I love it. Animal companions are nothing new, but the ones in this book are unlike any I’ve read about before. The characters and plot are fabulous as well. This series features lots of political scheming, smugglers, daughters inheriting the throne after removing their parents from power, secret thieving organizations, guards who are double-agents, an ancient magical race, and cliffhangers to end them all, all of which we’ve seen done in fantasy novels before, but somehow it all feels fresh and new here. I loved it. 

The biggest compliment I can give a book is one I give here to the Drowning Empire series: it’s like nothing I’ve read before, in a good way. 

I’ve really been enjoying this series and can’t wait to read The Bone Shard War probably next year to see how it all concludes. The Bone Shard Emperor didn’t feel like a filler book at all. I wasn’t able to guess where the story was going, and the ending left me laughing, upset, sad, scared, and excited all at the same time. 

I don’t have any real criticisms of this book. I think Andrea Stewart took everything good about the first book and made it better in the sequel. It had me invested on every page. It has great, flawed but relatable characters. It has a gripping plot with lots of intrigue. It has a fascinating magic system with bone shards, and not only that but also a second elemental-type magic system that gets introduced in this book. I really like this series and I highly recommend it. 

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