Book Review

The Bone Shard War

The Bone Shard War

  • Author: Andrea Stewart
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication Date: April 18, 2023
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Series: The Drowning Empire #3

Thank you to Orbit and Angela Man for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: violence, blood, murder, grief, suicide, gore, torture, enslavement

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, Lin faces renewed hostilities from the Shardless Few. Worse still, Lin’s old nemesis, Nisong, has joined forces with the rogue Alanga, Ragan. Both seek her death.

Yet hope 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.

As promised, Julie @ One Book More and I flew through this series, binge reading these books like it was our job which leads me to this lovely review! And I have to say that this trilogy was such a wonderful, hectic, incredible, and bumpy ride, but it’s probably one of my favorite fantasy series that I’ve read in recent years, and it’s a strong contender for 2023 favorite read, although I wouldn’t be able to choose which one of the books would be my favorite.

The first two books built up a lot of tension leading up to this final book. And while there’s a lot of buildup in this book as well, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot going on in this book. In fact, I think this might just be the highest gasp factor rating I’ve ever given, so you already know that there are going to be a lot of plot twists that you won’t be expecting. And the entire book was fast-paced, but the last quarter flew past because there was so much action that it was nearly non-stop.

While our main characters have shown a lot of growth over the course of the first two books, this book is where they really shine. Each of them shows immense growth over the course of this book especially, and I was so surprised at how well Stewart was able to change my mind on certain characters, even the ones I was 100% dead set against in earlier books. 

Lin was a favorite of mine from the start, and she continued to be one of my favorites right until the end. But she learned to respect her limits, and how to listen most effectively to the people around her who were trying to help. For a girl who grew up isolated in the palace, she eventually learned how to start trusting people and even *gasp* made some friends. But her path wasn’t an easy one, and right from the start, her story was heartbreaking.

Phalue was another who showed so much growth in this book—she really learned how to be a ruler, a wife, and a parent, and did it all under the most difficult circumstances possible. But above all, she also learned how to understand what others are going through, and seeing that the circumstances of others are just as difficult as her own, if not more so.

Ranami also showed a ton of growth, and she was one of those characters that I completely changed my mind about from the beginning to the end. At first, I didn’t like her at all, but as she changed, I was willing to see her differently. Her priorities changed, and she was willing to accept her upbringing as both a strength and a weakness, and was able to use all of her skills and talents to not only her best advantage, but to that of her little family and the people that she has become responsible for. 

We also have Nisong, who has allied with Ragan to try and achieve her goals. However, she is starting to realize that what she wants and what he wants don’t necessarily align, but she doesn’t really have any good options at this point. Plus, she is able to tag along and make use of his powers, although she can’t control him, and he’s dead set on creating havoc. 

Ultimately, the story relies on figuring out who can ally with who, because all of the groups want similar things, yet none are willing to work together or compromise with any others. Lin wants what is best for the Empire, the Shardless Few want to create a council made up of the people, Nisong wants the palace, and Ragan just wants to create chaos. But the ride was a fantastic one, and I couldn’t stop reading this one. Also, the discussions Julie and I had were incredible, with all of our predictions. I loved how the characters and the story was complex, nuanced, and multilayered, with such a robust world-building scenario without ever having to resort to info-dumping. This is definitely a new favorite of mine, and if you haven’t read this yet, all I can say is, what are you waiting for?

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 35

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