Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart – ARC Review!

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, the Shardless Few renew hostilities. Worse still, Lin discovers her old nemesis Nisong has joined forces with the rogue Alanga, Ragan. Both seek her death.  

Yet hopes 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.  

Bone Shard War picks up two years after the events of Bone Shard Emperor and life for Lin and the Empire hasn’t got any better. Facing mutiny from multiple sides as well as having to battle the Shardless Few, Nisong and Ragan the rogue Alanga, she is constantly at a loss as to how to save the Empire and the people who live there. But there is always hope, and this time it lies in an ancient history of Seven swords that are claimed to be able to harm Alanga like no other. The only problem, Lin isn’t the only one who knows about them, and she will have to test her skill against Alanga and human alike if she, and the Empire, are going to make it out of this battle unscathed.

Lin is a character I have loved from book one. She is someone who wants to see the best in everything and everyone, but also someone who, as Emperor and an Alanga, finds that she has few people she can truly place her trust in. We see this even more in this book thanks to the loss of Jovis in the book two, Lin just wants someone she can talk to, someone unafraid of her title, someone willing to tell her the truth, no matter the cost, but the lack of this person leads Lin to rely more in herself in this book, growing as a person and an Emperor and realising that, as much as she wants to save the Empire, she might not be who the Empire needs.

Jovis, my sweet and lighthearted Jovis goes through some emotional trauma in this book. He and Mephi take one hell of a journey, having to do some dubious things a long the way and he definitely suffers from PTSD for his actions. He still tries to be his humorous, never quite serious self, but the weight of his actions means that it never quite works, not to those who know him best anyway and it’s only Mephi who can manage to make him break out of his moods, Mephi and Lin who he fights for that make him try to break free of his bonds. Jovis and Mephi have always been my favourites, their relationship absolutely makes this story for me, so their scenes, especially when Jovis was under the control of Kaphra and doing unspeakable things made me so sad & I just wanted him to get back to Lin and live happily… is that too much to ask?!?

Lin and Jovis are still by far the main characters are our main POV’s, but we do get more Phalue and Ranami in this book which I loved. They spend the majority of the book apart which really allowed Stewart to let them grow as individuals, Ranami especially. Their actions and POV’s play such a huge part in the storyline and I enjoyed seeing them grow as characters. As well as these we have Nisong, our final POV, but by no means the least important. Throughout the series, Nisong has played a pivotal role in Stewarts storytelling and this doesn’t change with the final book, but we do see changes in Nisong herself. She finds herself questioning her memories, as well as her current predicament with Ragan, wondering if she is repeating the same toxic relationship she had previously and she plays a crucial part in whether the Empire will be saved or not.

I’m always amazed by how much information Stewart fits into these books, and how I never get board of learning about the magic, be it Bone Shard or Alanga. She weaves threads throughout each of the books, dropping little hints and clues that I’ll admit, I didn’t see coming one little bit, so when the big reveal hit, it hit big time. I, like Lin, couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen this coming and had to give credit to Stewarts expert foreshadowing. We delve more into the Alanga magic in this book, thanks in large to our main characters having powers and learning through the story how to use them effectively. Some of my favourite scenes were the battles between the Alanga, seeing the magic in action and seeing the stark difference in levels of power. It definitely lead to some ‘sat on the edge of your seat’ moments and I couldn’t get over how expertly brought to life they are, almost playing like a film in your head Stewart describes them that effectively.

This series a whole is filled with politics, and this book is no different. We see Lin, someone so unprepared to rule, now in charge of a slowly crumbling Empire, facing mutiny from her own governors, as well as fighting battles on multiple sides from The Shardless Few and Dione their ruler and Alanga, as well as Nisong the construct who tried to take her throne in book two, who is now working with Ragan the rogue Alanga who has nothing but power in his sights. What Stewart does incredibly well is writing a cast of characters who, although very heroic in their own rights, aren’t heroes. They aren’t the good guys. Every single one is fighting for their own goals in some way, and she allows her characters to come to that realisation on their own and gives them the decision on how they want to deal with that, will they continue to fight against people because they dislike, or will they take the chance to try and fix the Empire for good.

The ending of this book broke me, and then re-made me all over again. Stewart expertly rounded up the story-lines from all three books and gave us the most perfect, if not heartbreaking & bittersweet ending. Honestly it was just *chefs kiss* and I feel like it was left just open enough for us to re-visit the world at some time in the future *cough* hint, hint *cough*. This series as a whole has been spectacular and definitely features amongst my all time favourites, everything from the world building, the magic systems, the characters and their relationships has been brilliantly brought to live and as sad as I am to be leaving this world, I absolutely cannot wait to see what Stewart has in store for us next.

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