The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire) by Andrea Stewart

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The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire) by Andrea Stewart

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney
Summary: Filled with action, intrigue, an unforgettable world, and with an ending which will leave you lying in wait for the second book, The Bone Shard Daughter is a great read for 2021.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: September 2020
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0356514949

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I could never be what he wanted if I did not take what I wanted

In an empire controlled by a bone shard magic that powers animal-like constructs, an heir to the throne, a smuggler, and a warrior will fight to find their place in the world.

Lin is the emperor's forgotten daughter, kept locked away in a palace of secrets and closed doors. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to show him she is capable of reviving a dying empire and in secret, she begins to unlock one door after another, searching for the mysteries of her past and the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet Lin is playing a deadly game and her quest for power will come at great cost. With revolution in the air and creeping closer and closer to the gates of the palace, Lin must decide just how far she will go to become a catalyst of change and save her people.

Meanwhile, across the empire, Jovis is the infamous smuggler being hunted across the islands of the Empire for his crimes and his debts. He has vowed to chase rumours of a ship with blue sails that stole his wife from him years ago and not stop until his sweetheart is once again in his arms. But with revolution infecting the islands of the Empire like wildfire, can he turn a blind eye to their cause?

Alternatively, Phalue is a governor's daughter who has been raised to rule over one of the Empire's island. Over the course of her life she has trained herself to be the fiercest warrior she can be and has become more and more determined to help her people when her time comes. But her time is sooner than she might think and with the Empire breaking at the seams, can she justify lingering in her father's shadow and waiting for change rather than orchestrating it?

The Bone Shard Daughter is a striking high fantasy novel which is impressive and compelling to read. The story centres around themes of grief and love, change and preservation, politics and magic, monsters and myths, and freedom and is truly captivating.

For me personally the most enchanting aspect of Stewart's debut is the magic. In the bone shard constructs especially, there is darkness woven into the pages which adds depth to the novel and makes the writing simultaneously thrilling and terrifying.

In terms of the writing, a standout quality of Stewart's work is how beautifully she sets each scene. Throughout her novel the description is masterfully written, detailed to the extent that the characters worlds' take little of the reader's imagination to conjure without it being overbearing and slowing the story down. It is wonderfully imagined and a pleasure to read.

I also loved the variety of viewpoints. Together they paint a vivid picture of a broken empire expanding across oceans and continents, and steers the action into multiple storylines that all lace together at the conclusion of the novel. The Bone Shard Daughter is also embroidered with unexpected surprises, which change how the reader sees its characters, and Stewart orchestrates all these twists in the plot at just the right moments.

In terms of plot, there are layers of intrigue introduced throughout Stewart's debut and the gradual flow of the history of the world and our main characters keep the reader entertained and excited to learn more. I also really enjoyed the scatterings of action scenes which lace threads of tension and excitement into the story.

Many thanks to the publishers for providing the BookBag with a copy to review!

With magic that differs from any you've read before and heroes and heroines that will stay with you long after the last page, The Bone Shard Daughter is the beginning of series that I suspect will just keep getting better.

In terms of further reading, Lightbringer: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks is also the beginning of a great high fantasy story with an equally captivating magic system which you definitely should try if you haven't already! Otherwise Descendant of the Crane by Joan He is a novel which is also inspired by Chinese culture and revolves around politics and magic. You might like to try The Drowning City by Amanda Downum and The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes but we had our reservations about both.

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