The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor.
Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the north-east of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force.
Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. They claim they come in peace, and Lin will need their help in order to defeat the rebels and restore peace.
But can she trust them?
Thanks to Tracy at Complusive Readers and Orbit Books for having me on this blog tour. I can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Second book syndrome who? Bone Shard Emperor had everything I loved about book one but just better & I can’t wait to get my hands on the final instalment of the series. Bone Shard Emperor picks up pretty swiftly after the events of book one, Lin is now Emperor, in charge of people who don’t know or trust her, but she is determined to be a fairer and better ruler than her father, something that isn’t easy when she is facing threats on multiple fronts. An army of constructs are sweeping across the islands, killing people in their wake, the Shardless Few are calling for her to abdicate, the Governors of her Islands aren’t sure whether they want to follow Lin’s rule, and the Alanga of legend have returned to the Empire. Lin will have to decide where her loyalties truly lie and who she can trust if she, and the Empire, are to make it out intact.
Bone Shard Emperor is told from the same 5 POV’s from book one. Lin is now Emperor of a divided Kingdom, unsure who she can trust and simply trying to be better than her father before her, she shows both a vulnerability and a can do attitude, and I loved seeing how she chose to interact with certain people throughout this book. Jovis is a man torn between two loyalties, his Emperor and the Shardless Few who sent him there to spy on Lin and find a way to kill or depose her. Phalue and Ramani are trying to build up Nephilanu after the damage Phalue’s father caused as governor, whilst also trying to stay on good terms with the Shardless few. After getting her memories back Nisong is understandably angry, angry at the people who decided she wasn’t worth keeping, who took her memories and left her on an Island with no knowledge of who she was, or where she came from, and she is determined to make them pay. The main difference in this book is their interactions. Thanks to certain chains of events the characters that were separated in book one eventually meet up & I really loved seeing the differences in their interactions with each other, sizing them up, working out if they are a friend or an enemy.
Stewart really took her world building to a new level with this book. With Lin becoming Emperor, but living an extremely sheltered life, she decides she must show herself to her Kingdom, make herself seem more real, and thanks to this we get to visit a multitude of Islands within her Empire, some we have never visited before. Stewart uses these not only to build on her world, but also show the political frailty of the Kingdom that Lin has inherited, people followed her father out of fear, but they do not fear, nor trust, nor respect Lin, things she is determined to earn. This was also used to further Lin’s character growth which was one of my favourite parts of the book, seeing how she reacts to the different Governors, shows strength, kindness and respect when needed, but she also isn’t someone to be walked over.
Through both modern events, and diary pages from the original Alanga, Stewart drops little hints about the history of the Alanga throughout the book that ensure it ends with a bang. We learn that they may not have been as wholly evil as they were thought to be, that in fact at one point they lived in harmony with people. And as the story grows and the mystery deepens, we learn that the Alanga powers and those of the Bone Shards may not be as different as first assumed. We also learn a little more about Mephi and Thrana, and the bond they share with Jovis and Lin, how exactly they can ‘borrow’ their powers and why they were bonded in the first place. For anyone wondering Mephi is my absolute fave! I’m a huge lover of an animal sidekick, and I loved how his personality grew in this book. Jovis compares him to a teen child, which is absolutely perfect, and the scenes with him and Thrana in just completely made this book for me.
One thing Stewart really focused on in this book was relationships, be that familial, friendly or romantic. She shows Lin’s loneliness through her lack of confidants, people she can trust. Whereas, with Phalue and Ramani she shows the strength in having someone to rely on, someone who doesn’t necessarily come from the same background as you, who can teach you things both about yourself and the people who rely on you. I especially loved seeing the relationship between Lin and Jovis. I think it was brilliantly written, seeing Jovis’ inner turmoil over his feelings for Lin knowing he is betraying her with every letter he sends to the shardless few, and seeing Lin not sure whether she has the strength to put her trust in someone after how she has been treated in the past. Their scenes were witty, angsty and some of my favourite throughout the book.
The pacing of this book is just *chefs kiss* and I really struggled to put it down. Between the perfectly placed plot twists and the wondrous descriptive writing, I found myself glued to the pages, desperate for everyone to get their happy endings. Stewart has created a world and magic system that effortlessly jumps off the page, and filled it with unforgettable characters that tug at your every heartstrings. I’m desperate to get my hands on the final book, especially after the cliff hanger ending, and can’t wait to see what she has in store for her characters next.