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.
Length: 13 hours 44 minutes
Publisher: Hachette Audio UK
I went into The Bone Shard Daughter a little hesitantly, as I thought it was a YA title. And though it does read like YA, it’s actually marketed as adult. I have found that books written in this style are often among my favourites to read. I like the themes in YA, but sometimes find that YA tropes (after years of reading them) annoy me, or bore me.
Andrea Steward splits The Bone Shard Daughter into two main points of view: Lin, the emperor’s daughter, and Jovis, a smuggler caught up in the world-changing events of the story. Lin, though the emperor’s daughter, is refused access to knowledge about bone shard magic because she has no memories of her childhood. She remembers nothing before she was 18 years old. So she spends most of her storyline trying to remember her life, as well as learn the magic behind her father’s back. Her storyline is quite slow, and comes in small pieces, small snatches of information. Whereas Jovis’ storyline is more action-packed, and I think this is why I preferred his point of view over Lin’s.
I followed the story easily. The worldbuilding felt really well done, and I found the concept of bone shard magic unique. I don’t think I’ve come across anything like it in fantasy before. The idea of collective sacrifice for collective good is a concept that is really relevant to our contemporary world. The question of where to draw the line when it comes to choice and freedom isn’t answered in the novel. I’m not sure there is a definitive answer.
As I said, I preferred Jovis’ storyline. I do think he’s probably my favourite character in the novel (especially as he has a cute animal companion, who is also another mystery in the story). I think it’s his sections of the story which really make the book feel fun. Though he’s dealing with serious things, he has a light-hearted tone and quite a humorous narration style.
Stewart tells both Jovis and Lin’s perspectives in first person point of view. The other, more minor, points of view, however, she tells in third person. I think this distinction works well as it keeps your main focus on the two main characters, whilst also allowing other characters to showcase different sides of the story.
Out of the side characters, I enjoyed Phalue’s perspective the most. She’s the privileged daughter of a governor of one of the islands that make up the empire. Her character arc is the most political of them all. I enjoyed seeing her change her mind about certain things. I’m wondering if this theme will become more prominent later in the series. I hope so.
The Bone Shard Daughter is well written, with compelling characters, and has definitely hooked me into the series. I’m looking forward to the release of The Bone Shard Emperor.