In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Bone Shard Daughter! I’m so happy I can finally share my thoughts on this incredible read that took my breath away. Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invite and to Orbit for the gorgeous proof copy!
The Bone Shard Daughter is book 1 in a new series called The Drowning Empire. If you’re not sure whether you really want to add a new fantasy series to your TBR, let me tell you: you’ll want to add this one! Also: The Bone Shard Daughter has a proper ending, it doesn’t leave you hanging. Naturally the doors are left wide open for the sequel but still there is a decent level of closure which is always very important to me when reading a series.
The Bone Shard Daughter boasts excellent world-building and a unique, deceivingly simple magic system. Only the Emperor, his daughter and his foster son have magic, bone shard magic, allowing them to construct creatures, the so-called constructs, to do their bidding by sowing together animal and / or human body parts and inserting one or more bone shards with commands etched into them, thus animating them. And where do these bone shards come from, pray tell. Well they are harvested from children in a kind of festival. Usually the children are fine after the harvesting (although accidents do happen), the problems begin when a shard is used to animate a construct, as the life of the donor is then syphoned off. Side note: if you thought Aragog or Shelob were bad, wait until you meet Ilith *shudders*.
There are four points of view:
Lin’s POV is told in the first person. She’s the Emperor’s twenty-something daughter and her story starts with one simple sentence: “Father told me I’m broken.” Hook, line and sinker, that first sentence was the point of no return for me. All Lin wants is to impress her father, to prove to him she is worthy of his love and his legacy.
Jovis’ POV is also told in the first person. He’s a smuggler and somehow he always seems to get dragged right into the thick of things. Jovis is the guy bards sing songs about, the guy whose WANTED posters are plastered all over the city, the guy who doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body although he doesn’t always realise that about himself. The only thing Jovis wants is to find the woman he loves, who was taken from him seven years ago.
Phalue’s POV is told in the third person. She’s the governor’s daughter, madly in love with a commoner. Phalue is not unsympathetic to the lesser fortunate but when her girlfriend asks her to actually break the law to make a difference she’s caught between a rock and a hard place, while she just wants to be happy and for her girlfriend to marry her.
The last POV is also told in the third person and it Sand’s. This is easily the most enigmatic POV, the only one whose purpose is shrouded in mystery. She’s on an Isle picking mangoes and for some reason it’s really important she fills an entire bag. And then she stops and asks herself why. Why is it so important, why is she there, why can she remember so little?
Reading a novel with alternating POVs, there is usually one I prefer over the other(s), even more so when there’s more than two and especially in fantasy, for some reason. That was not the case here. Each POV was absolutely captivating and I was absorbed and invested in each and every one of them. The chapters are also rather short, which also helps move the plot along and prevented me from developing a craving for another storyline.
It’s plain sailing from the get-go and that doesn’t mean that this is a simple story, it’s not, there is a whole lot going on, I just never felt overwhelmed. The writing and pacing are flawless and I had none of the issues I sometimes have with fantasy, getting the names and the events straight in my head and getting used to the world. I effortlessly glided into the story and just as effortlessly I stayed there. This is epic yet accessible, low threshold fantasy and in my opinion perfect for seasoned fantasy readers and newbies alike.
The Bone Shard Daughter is a gorgeous tale with characters you’d fight for (looking at you, Mephi, heart eyes all the way!). There’s mystery, intrigue, suspense, action, a smidgeon of sarcastic humour and a sprinkling of love, and it comes together as if… enchanted? by… bone shard magic? Oh my…