21 Apr 2023

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THE BONE SHARD WAR by Andrea Stewart (Review)

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Andrea Stewart
Series: The Drowning Empire #3
Source: ARC via Publisher
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: April 18, 2023

Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:
Representation: N/A

The Bone Shard Daughter was hailed as "one of the best debut fantasy novels of the year" (BuzzFeed News). Now, Andrea Stewart brings us the final book in this unmissable, action-packed, magic-laced epic fantasy trilogy, The Bone Shard War.

Lin Sukai has won her first victory as Emperor, but the future of the Phoenix Empire hangs in the balance – and Lin is dangerously short of allies. 

As her own governors plot treason, the Shardless Few renew hostilities. Worse still, Lin discovers her old nemesis Nisong has joined forces with the rogue Alanga, Ragan. Both seek her death.  

Yet hopes lies in history. Legend tells of seven mythic swords, forged in centuries past. If Lin can find them before her enemies, she may yet be able to turn the tide.  
If she fails, the Sukai dynasty – and the entire empire – will fall.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the final book, The Bone Shard War, and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

Content WarningsHuman trafficking, Physical parental abuse, Child sexual abuse mentioned, Amnesia (memory loss), Blood & gore depiction, Body horror, Medical experimentation, Death of a child, Death of a brother, Death of a mother & father, Death of a wife, Murder & attempted murder, Physical assault, Imprisonment, Drowning, Earthquakes, Disappearance of a loved one, Child homelessness & poverty recounted, Rebellion themes & regicide, Animal attack, Animal injury & illness, Animal abuse.

The Bone Shard Daughter

I started this, listened to about 2 hours, and then read something else to make sure I was in the right headspace to continue. And while I was really confused for the front end of the book, the payoff of the reveals and insights was well worth it! I really liked learning more about the world, the magic, and the intricacies of the politics in this world. There is also on screen wlw, and they have an interesting relationship. This book focused heavily on Jovis and Lin, so I hope there is more screen time for the other POVs in the future.

However, I didn't like that there were only THREE audiobook narrators for the FIVE points of view. I get it, I think the other two only had one or two chapters each, but it made it so confusing! As someone who reads based off those audio clues for who is speaking, it made it very difficult. I hope in the future there are more voice actors.

Overall though, I do recommend this! I thought the end reveals were so well done and I can't wait to see where this series goes.

The Bone Shard Emperor

The pacing on this was a little off with not too much happening in the first half and then a lot of action in the second half. I did like the worldbuilding and setting the tone for the rest of the series - and meeting more characters and seeing more of the world itself.

But there was a lot of magic in here that I wasn't quite sure about how it worked (and the characters don't quite know either which makes it a little difficult for us to figure out how things are working and what is going on).

I thought there were some really good elements to this and I really liked seeing how Lin and Jovis's relationship has started to change and evolve. However, the secondary characters that had so much promise in the first book really got lost in this one - they were only used for plot devices and moving things forward rather than as actual characters.

The Bone Shard War

I was surprised by the time gap between the last book and this one, but it ended up being something that didn't play too much into the rest of the story. I think the back and forth in time ultimately was the right call because of how crumbs of the story came out, but it did leave the first half a little slower paced than I would have wanted it to be.

Almost every chapter is a cliffhanger, which I enjoy and don't enjoy, but there are so many POVs in this that it makes it worth it to get to the next time that person's story comes around. I just have to remember what the previous "OMG" moment was before starting the next POV chapter. There isn't much rhyme or reason to whose perspective we're getting at any time, with Jovis and Lin taking up the majority, but there is still enough of me going "wait, where did we leave them last time" that I was flipping a bit between pages.

I did end up reading a physical copy of this rather than an audiobook version which I think increased my enjoyment of it! The audiobook has three narrators across all the POVs which makes it hard to distinguish who is who but here I could figure it out pretty easily.

I liked how this answered a lot of the questions that were a part of the previous stories, especially the sinking island aspect. I thought it was really intriguing to see how it played out and learning more about the ways that history tends to repeat itself.

There were a lot of really good elements of feminism, learning to take control of a situation for yourself, and learning how to continue to have hope when times are tough in this. I really appreciated the journey that all the characters took throughout this series. I think Lin is one of my favourite women that I've read about in a high fantasy setting like this in a long time!

I am happy for Mephi and that is all.

Definitely recommend picking up this series!

Have you read this book? What was your favourite part?

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