The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) – Andrew Stewart

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 438
Release Date: September 8, 2020

In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne.


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.

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The Bone Shard Daughter is a multiple POV fantasy novel that sets up an interesting world with compelling characters.

The Bone Shard Daughter primarily follows Lin and Jovis. Lin is the emperor’s daughter tasked with proving herself to her father by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic while Jovis is a smuggler on a mission to find his wife. Lin’s chapter focus primarily on the magic system while Jovis’ chapters gave readers a look at the world and its hierarchies. Lin and Jovis were my favourite characters. Their stories were the most interesting and kept me guessing.
Phalue, a governor’s daughter, and Ranami, a commoner dating Phalue, both have their own chapters focusing primarily on the rebellion. These chapters give insight into the discontent towards the emperor and a bit of history regarding the world. I wouldn’t say I disliked these chapters, but they felt awkward at the beginning of the novel because they didn’t mesh well with the Lin and Jovis’ chapters right away. They had me questioning their usefulness.

Some of the elements in The Bone Shard Daughter reminded me of other novels. This is not a criticism, just an observation. For example, the magic system reminded me of The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson. Both feature a magic system where you carve something to change it. Both magic systems work is different ways, but still echo each other. Also, (view spoiler)

The Bone Shard Daughter kept me guessing until the very end. I thought I had the plot puzzled out, but Stewart subverted by expectations in all the best ways possible. The Bone Shard Daughter is full of unexpected twists and turns.

Overall, The Bone Shard Daughter is a solid fantasy debut that I will certainly be following when the sequel publishes. It features compelling characters and sets up an interesting world that I suspect will be expanded upon greatly in the sequel. 

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Have you read The Bone Shard Daughter? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) – Andrew Stewart

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