Title: The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1)
Author: Andrea Stweart
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
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.
Why This Book
The Bone Shard Daughter is the first in an Asian-inspired fantasy trilogy featuring a world composed of floating islands and a fascinating mythology of a long-extinct group of people. With the emperor growing more and more reclusive with basically just his daughter and an adopted son to keep him company, unrest brews in the empire, especially when islands start to sink. This series has a lot of layers to it with almost too much going on, but it presents a weirdly fascinating story and, even though I’m not choosing this book because of him, Mephi definitely stole the show.
So, why did I choose this book? Two of the main characters are Phalue and Ranami. The former is the daughter of the governor of one of the islands and the latter is a common born young woman who knows the ways of the people far better than her girlfriend does. They’re an intriguing couple that showcase the dichotomy of rich and poor, but they really tried hard, even if the portrayal of their relationship wasn’t as strong as I thought it could be (though I think they made up for it in the second book!).
My review: “The [relationship] between Phalue and Ranami felt shallow compared to every other relationship, almost as though there wasn’t any real feeling behind it even though they tried hard”
Jeann from Happy Indulgence rated this 3.5, saying of Phalue and Ranami “Given the difference between their social class and status, it was interesting seeing how Phalue could influence her father on issues that affected Ranami and her people. The two certainly had their share of challenges, but this didn’t affect their feelings for one another”
Ellie from Beyond a Bookshelf rated this a 4.2, saying “There was absolutely no conflict derived from them being queer. They were queer, and people were okay with that. Queerness is normalised within the world of The Bone Shard Daughter, which is excellent”
Nicole from HalfWildBooks gave this 3 stars, saying “Revolution, identity, justice, grief and love are at the heart of this book, driving each character to defy society and demand change through forbidden magic, rebellions and smuggling. It starts off with promise, and there is the potential for so much chaos, action and adventure, but as the book progressed I felt as though we were being held back, forced to wait for another instalment to get the answers we craved”
Corey from Grimdark Dad loved this one and said of Phalue and Ranami “Their relationship is full of awkward stops & starts, and they are two women who are very much Figuring Shit Out, and I love them both”
Kat from KBbookreviews gave this 4.75 stars, saying “The story deals with so many hard-hitting themes from family, to humanity, to social class conflict and disparities but in a mesmerising way that is brimming with magic and revolution. The world and the characters are rich and dynamic with multiple-layers and complexities that make them seem real and believable”
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