The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart
The Emperor has died, long live the Emperor.
But Lin’s path to government is not quick or easy—her father’s secrets and his self-isolation on Imperial island have strained the bonds between emperor and governors to the breaking point, and without the use of constructs, the Tithe or bone shard magic, Lin has nothing but simple persuasion to hold her empire together. With trouble brewing all around her and problems popping up faster than she can fix them, her rule promises to be a troubled—if not very short—one.
She has an empire. Now she just has to try to keep it.
“Is there a sliding scale of good? And if so, where do my actions fall? I’m trying to do better, but I don’t quite know what that looks like.”
I AM SCREAMING.
The build-up. The scope. The reveals. THAT ENDING.
Whew, this is going to be a very hard review to write without having (too) many spoilers from the first book. The Bone Shard Daughter was one of my top reads of 2020, and while I adored the sequel, I don’t know that I loved it just as much. It had its own arc and plot, but the pacing was a little off—there was a lot of build to a very long battle scene where I felt very few emotions, and the entire thing felt like a bridge to the third book (which promises to be incredible because where the fuck do we go from here besides the obvious, which I cannot say because it’s a major spoiler).
However, despite my gripes, this was still an incredible read.
The Alanga continue to be mysterious and weird and awakeningy, with more truth-bombs dropped about them here and there, the islands are still sinking but maybe the cause has been discovered (and of course people aren’t going to listen to common sense stuff when there’s money to be had—this would have been a ridiculous notion except we’ve all lived through the pandemic and the amount of sheer dumbassery is mind-boggling), Sand and her fellows are on the warpath and doing quite well thank you, Jovis has a crisis of conscious…kinda, and Lin and Phalue struggle with the legacies of their parents and the ways to correct them and move forward.
It’s really, really hard to write a story about what happens when the person is on top and in charge. The sheer minutia of everything piles up, and in-charge often means riding a desk and bureaucracy, which is often far less exciting than the previous non-stop action of getting to the top and defeating the big bad.
However, Stewart did a really great job of making ruling interesting, and answering the question of what happens when your character who struggled to change the system becomes the system…and what that looks like to change, especially when meaningful change is really hard, actually, and hard to be instantaneous because of how engrained and interconnected everything is. And how difficult it is to be responsible for things that aren’t you.
And also, how hard it is to teach others to be responsible when they learned from your sort-immoral, smuggerly previous way of life (#parenting). Yes that was a slight dig on Jovis, and also I really needed at least 100 more pages of Mephi.
Laws tell us what we can and cannot do; they do not tell us what we should and should not do.”
Despite the seeming seriousness, the humor is still there, even if it felt a little more forced (unless it dealt with Mephi), but that makes sense because Jovis is grappling with a life of rules and structure and possible betrayals and the idea that doing the right thing could very well depend on him and what the fuck is up with that crap?
But, here are my initial thoughts from my rough draft review, which really sum up this book in its entirety with non-spoilerly spoilers.
Oh hey Gio.
“They’re harmless,” I told her.
“We are very good,” Mephi added as Thrana nodded her assent.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review