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.
This book completely blew away all of my expectations. It has received a great deal of buzz, and I honestly went into it thinking it probably wouldn’t live up to all the hype surrounding it. However, I’m happy to report that the book deserves all of the praise it has received and much, much more. The writing was exquisite and almost instantly sucked me into its world. Then the pacing and slowly unraveling mysteries kept me hooked until the very end. This author also did a fantastic job of weaving together multiple POVs in a way that was satisfying and came together into one full, cohesive story while also giving each character distinct, interesting trajectories of growth.
The world-building was incredible, and the world itself was very unique. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. The floating islands of the empire were a fascinating setting with a captivating culture and rich history that I constantly wanted to learn more about. The author expertly built up the reader’s knowledge alongside the characters as the narrative moved forward, which made for a truly immersive reading experience. Sometimes that can feel jarring, but this book pulled it off and left me wanting to learn so much more about the world and its history. Luckily, there are two more books on the way!
The magic system in this book was also unlike anything else I’ve read. It was equal parts fascinating due to the logic puzzles involved and creepy because of how it worked. Using bone shards from people’s skulls to power constructs made up of different animal parts is not something I ever thought would show up in a magic system, but I loved it. The imagery of the people giving up a part of their own head to power the bureaucracy keeping them oppressed was quite striking, and the constructs, and how their instructions worked, reminded me a little of Asimov’s robots and his laws of robotics. There also seems to be other forms of magic in this world that weren’t explored as in depth yet, and I’m hoping to get more of them in future installments. All of it was just stunning to read, and I cannot wait to learn more in the next book.
The characters were all complex and intriguing to read. They also acted as compelling avatars for exploring the book’s themes of identity and revolution. Lin’s struggle to discover who she was in the face of her missing memories was interesting and allowed the reader to follow her discoveries from beginning to end while seeing her create a new sense of self with the information she learned. Phalue and Ranami had a beautiful story arc that highlighted the rich vs. poor dilemma in this kingdom vividly while also showing the impact love can have even when people are from two vastly different backgrounds. Their story also illustrated the myth of meritocracy in an easy to understand way, and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it explained better. Jovis was probably my favorite character. I enjoyed seeing him go from a roguish smuggler who cared mostly about himself and his grief to someone classified as a hero. The psychological aspect of the transformation was fun to read. I also loved his dynamic with Mephi and consider their relationship to be the true heart of this book. The side characters are also all fabulous and round out the cast brilliantly.
So much of this story explored the moral conundrum of doing what is best for me and those I care about versus doing what is best for the greater good. All of the main characters struggled with this dilemma in some form. I appreciated that the answers were not all back and white; most of the characters and their decisions were morally complex.
Overall, I loved this book and thought it was absolutely brilliant. I don’t know what else to say. So, I’m just gonna give it 5 out of 5 stars and go read the next book.
Have you read The Bone Shard Daughter? What did you think?