Bone Shard Emperor – Andrea Stewart

“I’d thought I could set things right in the Empire if only I’d had the means.

(Following straight on from Bone Shard Daughterusual warning that even mentioning a character in book 2 could be considered spoilers for book 1.)

Lin Sukai spent book 1 creeping about on rooftops, trying to find out the secrets her father was keeping from her – secrets like the bone shard magic that lets her family create and control ‘constructs’ and maintain control of the Empire. Well, she found out a few more things than she’d bargained for, forcing her hand into something of a coup.

Gaining the throne, at however terrible a cost, is soon to seem the least of Lin’s worries, however. Keeping the throne, exerting her influence over the Empire, might be more than she can handle, even with the help of former soldier and smuggler, Jovis. He, of course, has woes of his own, with so many different factions demanding his loyalty or at least his – strange and newfound – strength.

As with Daughter, we have multiple viewpoints here, most told in first person. There were a few moments I had to quickly check the chapter heading to remember who we were following, especially now that characters’ stories overlap, but for the most part there’s no confusion. The characters are a huge strength here, perhaps even better than the excellent world building, facing trials and dilemmas with aplomb. Each seems tested by events, and no one gets an easy way out. Lin, Jovis, Phalue and Ranami somewhat mirroring Lin’s story, and of course, the still somewhat mysterious Nisong.

Still, I wasn’t quite as taken with the sequel as I was with the first book, largely I suspect because we go from slinking about unlocking secret doors, or pirating across the many islands, to well, politics. Interesting politics, to be sure, with so much intrigue and pitfalls and frustrations. And we do have the fuzzy joy of Mephis and now Thrana to add extra scampering – love these beasties 🙂

Better yet, we start to get a whole lot more information about the Alanga – deep lore kind of stuff – as Lin and Jovis continue to explore their new powers. Oh – and they might not be alone on that front…

Still, this suffers just a little from ‘middle book syndrome’ – still lots happening, and lots of revelations – but we’ll all just have to wait to find out how it all wraps up. Recommended, nonetheless, and roll on that finale!

The Bone Shard Emperor book coverNetGalley eARC: 561 pages / 57 chapters
First published: 2022
Series: The Drowning Empire book 2
Read from 26th-27th March 2022

My rating: 8/10

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