Serena’s Review: “The Bone Shard Daughter”

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Book: “The Bone Shard Daughter”

Publishing Info: Orbit, September 2020

Where Did I Get this Book: from the publisher!

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: 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.

Review: Per the usual for me it seems, sometimes what it takes to get me to finally pick up a trilogy…is for that trilogy to end! Such is the case with this fantasy series. I had seen this one floating around on readings lists for a year or two now, but when Orbit sent out there titles for this spring and I saw the final book the trilogy was due to drop, I figured now was the time! So, let’s see what all the fuss has been about!

Lin continues to work day and night to earn the approval of her father and her place as the heir to his kingdom. But she is hindered by the large blank that is her memory past the point of a few years ago. She may not remember what happened in her past, but she knows that her future hinges on her ability to learn the magic behind her father’s ability to use bone shards to build the powerful magical constructs to allow their vast empire to run. And in other parts of the world, a smuggler who has been on a years-long search for his missing wife, runs across the darker price this bone shard magic extracts from the populace.

There was a lot to like about this book! The first thing that struck me was the interesting world-building and magic system at the heart of the story. And much of this information is unfurled slowly to the reader as one goes along, so there’s a sense of exploration and wonder as new layers of this world are pealed back. Things like the fact that the large islands that make up this empire move through the ocean in a way that must be carefully navigated by all those who travel between them. Hints that there may be more to the constructs than straight-forward magical tools that they seem to be. The discovery of magical creatures that are unknown to even the characters of this world. It made the reading experience, in a simple term, fun.

I also really liked the characters of the story. The POVs switch between four different characters, but Lin and Jovis, the smuggler, are by far the more main characters of the group. I really liked both of them; they each had solid character arcs and voices that lent excitement and interest to their chapters. Lin’s story is very much the heart of this book (as evidenced by the title of the book), but I almost found myself enjoying Jovis’s story the most. For one thing, he’s the one that ends up with the adorable, magical animal companion. And I’m always going to gravitate towards and adorable, magical animal companion. But his story was also full of adventure and danger, leading his chapters to feel fast-moving and action-packed. For her part, Lin’s story is much more one of self-discovery and the slow pealing back of the truths at the heart of her father’s dynasty. Due to her own lack of memories, it’s only naturally that her story plays out a bit slower.

But I also have to say I really didn’t understand the inclusion of the other two characters. They have something like 4-5 chapters between them in the entire book! And the chapters they did have I found frustrating to read. Each, in their own way, seemed to operate in a world of black and whites, neither able to understand the nuances of the other’s position (this was the classic romantic tension of one member being from an upper class and the other a lower). Neither character felt like they were bringing anything unique to the table, either to this conversation about societal structures (which I’ve seen done better) or to this book overall. As this is a trilogy, there’s a possibility that these two will gain importance in future books. But I wish the author had just introduced them then, instead of shoe-horning them in here in a way that left them feeling out of place. I’m not sure why authors are so nervous about doing this, adding characters in as they go, but it’s definitely possible and can definitely enhance a reading experience if done right!

The writing was also solid and neatly laid out themes of power, family, and the lengths we will go to for those we love. The story also ended in such a way that definitely left me eager to check out the next book. I can definitely see why this trilogy got off to such a great start and I recommend it to any fantasy reader who enjoys multi-POV fantasy stories with a strong focus on world-building.

Rating 8: Full of exploration and adventure, this fantasy novel arrives on the scene with a bang and leaves the reader aching for more by the end.

Reader’s Advisory:

“The Bone Shard Daughter” can be found on these Goodreads lists: Most unique, original, and interesting magical systems and Adult-targeted secondary-world fantasy with noteworthy heroines or female protagonists

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