THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER by Andrea Stewart (BOOK REVIEW)
In an empire ruled by bone shard magic, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne, in this stunning epic fantasy debut. The Sulai Dynasty has ruled the Phoenix Empire for over a century, their mastery of bone shard magic powering the monstrous constructs that maintain law and order. But now the emperor’s rule is faltering, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Trapped in a palace of locked doors and secrets, Lin is the Emperor’s daughter but not his heir. Her childhood memories have been erased by a mysterious illness. The only way to reclaim her birthright and overthrow her despotic father is to master the art of the very bone shard magic that her subjects fear. But the secrets behind her father’s power are dark and deep, and the magic he wields does not come without a cost. When the revolution reaches the gates of the palace itself, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her throne – and save her people.
The Bone Shard Daughter is a fantastic book with intriguing characters, an exciting and original narrative and enough twists and turns to satisfy the most demanding of readers.
The story is told through the lives of four characters:
Lin is the King’s daughter but she has been relegated to second fiddle behind her adopted brother Bayan after a mysterious illness took her memories. She has an intense desire to master the magic of her family, one that allows for the creation of any number of creatures, or constructs, through the use of bone magic. All citizens are required to give up a small shard of bone to power the King’s constructs, that piece of bone slowly but surely draining their own life span causing premature death, something Lin feels is wrong and wants to affect.
“If I were smart enough, if I were clever enough, if I were careful enough, I could rewrite the commands embedded into their shards, I could make them mine. Father didn’t think I was enough. My memory was lacking. But I knew who I was now. I was Lin. I was the Emperor’s daughter. And I would show him that even broken daughters wield power.”
Jovis is a smuggler and one of the few survivors from an island that one day sinks into the ocean. As he gains a reputation as a saviour of children from the bone taking ceremonies he fights against his own desire to stay alive and incognito whilst also listening to his conscience that demands he get involved. After rescuing a mysterious creature from the waters of the sinking island he discovers a magic of his own, one that is most certainly linked to his new animal friend. He searches every day and night for his wife who was stolen by a figure in a boat with blue sails. He was a real favourite of mine and I have a feeling by the end of the book every reader will have a place for him in their heart.
“One more life saved. It was a pittance, unutterably small against the scale of the lives lost. But it was there”.
Ranami and Phalue are lovers. One a fugitive and revolutionary out to tip the scales of power, the other is the daughter of the governor who faces the difficult decision of choosing between her father and the system that raised her and that she will one day inherit and what she feels in her heart is the right course for society going forward.
Finally we have Sand, a woman trapped on a mysterious island with other men and women, all of whom have no memories of how they arrived or their lives beforehand. She desperately searches for information on who she is and how she came to be there.
They are all interesting characters made better by the world building that gives us a clear insight into the different cultures at play. The level of detail we see and the information and context it provides for each story is wildly impressive, especially for a debut and one that bodes extremely well for the future books. Taking place on a number of different islands it is one of the first books where I felt the map at the beginning really added to the story.
The Bone Shard Daughter is without doubt going to be one of the most highly rated debuts of 2020. It is simply excellent. There is a wonderful complexity to the plot but the author’s flowing prose ensures it is at all times easy to read and follow. The pacing is quick but steady and never falters all the way to the end where revelations are made that ensure an epic blockbuster finish that made me frustrated I had to leave the world behind.
If you are a fan of complex and strong female characters, intricate world building, a unique and somewhat horrifying magic system and insanely cute buddy animals then The Bone Shard Daughter needs to be on your list. 9/10
Thank you to Orbit books for providing me with a review copy.