Title: The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1)
Author: Andrea Stewart
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
Type: Series – Book 1
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult fantasy, Magical World
Primary Characters: Lin, Jovis, Ranami, Phalue,Sand,
Narration: Limited third party multiple POV
The Bone Shard Daughter is a very promising debut in Drowning Empire series. When I read the blurb, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it. But I’m glad that I picked it up. Its an interesting read told from several perspective.
It takes place in an empire consisting of many islands where the emperor rules with an iron fist of everything with the help of his bone-shard magic. This book has woven an intricate plot with several individual characters to create an overall compelling narrative. It has added tons of layers to the story & the characters themselves. Magic system felt like writing a programming language code. It can be simple or complex.
Characters & World building
It extremely easy to love and root for these characters. Each one has very distinctive personality, particular finesse and skills portraying their inner struggles and strength’s. Varying relationships and the moral greys are portrayed extremely well. Unique character Mephi is definitely the show stopper. World building is gorgeous. So many dimensions are added to the world-building while keeping things interesting.
Lin is a daughter of Emperor and heir who spent her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and secrets. She cannot remember a semblance of her life before five years ago. Memories of her past washed away by the Sickness bought to palace by her step brother Bayan. she’s doing everything she can to earn the respect and approval of his father by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Another central character Jovis, a wanted smuggler on a fruitless search for his wife who’s been missing for seven years. While trying to escape from one of the tragic incidents, he finds a weird animal also trying to escape a similar situation. In the time of exigency, he helps the animal without thinking much. It will become his loyal companion, and I need to say that I just loved the relationship between Jovis and Mephi. it is one of my favorite parts.
The book also follows other characters—Phalue and Ranami. Phalue is the daughter of a governor, in love with the beautiful Ranami. Ranami is a plebeian and dreamer who thinks for a fair nation/govt. Ranami get involved with rebellion group plotting against Phalue’s father & Empire complicating their relationship. Finally, we meet mysterious Sand who leave’s in an island where no one has any memories of their past.
Magic system explained in this book is unique and fascinating. As the name suggests magic comes from the shards of the living human bone. At certain young age, every citizen is required to part with a shard of their skull that will then make its way to the stores of the emperor. The cost of employing this magic is not one the emperor has to pay though, but rather the citizens of the empire.
Emperor uses the bone shards and creates a weird looking animals called as constructs. Emperor writes commands into bone shards and insert them into the constructs. Constructs can be simple or more complex depending upon the instructions written on the shard. When the shards are embedded in constructs, the shard donor’s life starts ebbing away. Only emperor or his heirs can wield that magic. He protects his empire and his inhabitants from old rulers called Alanga.
The Bone Shard Daughter is a novel that is undeniably preoccupied with the complex facets of empire. It’s well written with lot of action and intrigue. The pacing was slow at first and then it gets faster later in the book. Twists and turns in the book will keep you on your toes all the time.
I would highly recommend this to the lovers of fantastical, imaginary world of magic with compelling characters set in a kingdom that is falling apart. I am extremely eager to see what direction this story takes.