Publisher: Orbit Books
Page Count: 545
Release Date: November 23rd, 2021
Series: THE DROWNING EMPIRE, Book 2
Rating: 4/5 Stars – Really Liked It
Warning: Possible light spoilers for earlier books ahead. You can read the review for those books here: THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER
It’s been a few months since Lin assumed the throne and made smuggler-turned-folk-hero Jovis the captain of her guard. In that time, Lin has been busy reversing her father’s tyrannical policies, ending the use of constructs, and extending olive branches to governors who chafed under her father’s rule. But what truly keeps Lin up at night is unraveling the mysteries her father kept locked away, especially his research into the mysterious Alanga. Why are Alanga artifacts awakening all over the empire, and what does it have to do with the mysterious creatures Lin and Jovis have bonded to? Lin may not have time to find out, however, as an army of constructs has assembled itself on the far reaches of the kingdom, and it plans to subjugate Lin’s people one island at a time.
THE BONE SHARD EMPEROR is a worthy sequel to THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER that both answers old questions and introduces new mysteries as Lin continues to delve into the secrets of the empire. The author walks the tightrope of giving readers just enough information to be satisfying, while still keeping things close to the vest for the finale. Even better, the answers click into place like a key in a lock, feeling like something that should have been obvious if you’d only looked at it from another angle.
While the book has plenty of mystery, it’s not skimping on the action or the politics either. Lin’s attempts to reconnect with the governors of the islands becomes even more important as the army of constructs approaches. Lin believes only a united coalition can withstand the invasion, but many governors want to take advantage of the current weakness of the throne to force a change in rulership or gain concessions for their own island. The result is some tense negotiations, peppered with assassination attempts, just to keep things interesting. As Jovis and Lin’s powers grow, there’s some real AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER flavoring to battles, as both begin to understand how to harness the elements.
Also a shout out to Ranami and Phalue’s storyline. As rulers of one of the islands in the empire, they are struggling to find a balance between leveraging their bargaining chips to demand real change, while not harming innocent people if their demands are not met. The radical Shardless Few on the island insist that Ranami and Phalue can’t give the empire aid until Lin concedes, but is it worth it if common people suffer for her refusal?
The one weakness to the book is new character Ragan, who I found a bit underdeveloped. While he’s pivotal to the story, he mostly lurks in the background of scenes until the very end. While some of this can be attributed to the fact that this is a story primarily told through Lin and Jovis’s POVs, I wish we’d had a few more scenes to get a better sense of him. As it is, he kind of just shows up and is immediately folded into the entourage without much fanfare.
Fans of THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER will find plenty to love in this sequel, and it sets up one heck of a finale. There are a lot of threads coming to a head and some final mysteries to be answered, and THE BONE SHARD EMPEROR keeps the series on track towards a satisfying conclusion for this mysterious trilogy.
Note: I was provided a free review copy by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.