Review: The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) by Andrea Stewart

Rating: 10/10


In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.


Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

The Bone Shard Daughter is an absolute stunner of a fantasy debut. Stewart has created one of the most original and sensational magic systems I have ever come across, on top of some excellent world-building and a cast of characters you can’t help but cheer for. This might possibly be my top debut of 2020, and will easily crack my top reads of the year. It is simply awe-inspiring.

I can remember when Orbit announced their acquisition of this trilogy last December, and just how quickly the synopsis skyrocketed TBSD up my TBR. Then, you have the cover reveal (which, alongside The Rage of Dragons, is one of my favorite Orbit covers to date) that cemented it as a must-read prior to release. Now, having read it, the hype I had going in was paid back, and them some.

The magic system Stewart has weaved into her story is so fascinating, and the only thing I can even remotely compare it to is “scriving” from Robert Jackson Bennet’s The Founders series. All of these intricacies to how things work, how they can be manipulated, and the power/control you have over the ‘constructs’ infused with said magic is just brilliant. While the system itself takes some time to unravel throughout the pages, the author wastes no time going all-in from the middle to the conclusion, including some intense action scenes.

The world-building is crisp and detailed, creating a perfect setting for the story and the characters within. Every single piece plays a part in the multi-POV storytelling and the addition of shifting islands is one I haven’t seen before.

But what really set this book apart had to be the characters. Oh, and did I mention TALKING ANIMAL COMPANION???? BECAUSE THERE IS ONE AND I WANT HIM. HIS NAME IS MEPHI AND HE SHALL BE MY MEPHI.

Sorry… got off track a bit.

I originally came into the story expecting a single POV, but instead received five (5). Lin and Jovis took most of center stage in their respective arcs, with Phalue, Ranami, and Sand rounding everything out. While Jovis has a very interesting story and motivation for everything he does, Lin’s story won out in overall engagement and immersion. From the very beginning, I wanted to know her entire story from start to finish. What made her tick. How she came to learn bone shard magic. You name it.

But as the story progressed, so did Lin’s entire arc. I’ll leave it at that, though, because you just gotta read it.

If this is the debut you have been waiting for in 2020, buckle up. It is worth the price of admission.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tammy says:

    I love seeing your 10/10 rating!!! I can’t wait to start this:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic review, fantastic book, we all want Mephi.😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David W says:

      Thanks, man!
      I asked Andrea if she created Mephi after her cat, Mochi. Though that wasn’t the case, she said they do share quite a few similarities. We all need a Mephi.

      Liked by 1 person

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