The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart is the second book is an adult fantasy trilogy, set to be published November 23rd. I enjoyed the first book in the series although the pace was too slow for my liking. I was excited to jump into this one now that the world was built and the action had started at the end of the last one but sadly, that was not to be.
No spoilers for this book but the description has minor spoilers if you haven’t read the first one.
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?
This series is really frustrating. I really like the world and the magic, Mephi and Thrana are so much fun, and Jovis and Lin’s stories are interesting. But I can’t get over the slow pace and other POVs that I don’t care about at all. There is absolutely no need for this book to be over 500 pages to have 4 points of view. All Nisong and Phalue/Ranami accomplish is slowing down the plot. In some places, not only do they slow down the plot but they actually take away from the main Lin/Jovis storyline. No spoilers but in one specific instance, because we saw Nisong do something, it was a lot less impressive watching Lin figure out that thing. The timeline also jumped around rather than being continuous in jumping from one POV to another which is really weird and made the slowness even more. In one particular really big thing, first we see Nisong initiate it, then Lin sees it, then Phalue sees it, then Jovis sees it. And for all of them, it’s the end of their chapters so in 4 chapters, we got absolutely nowhere. This all led to a really slow read because I was so tempted to but the book down every time I got to a chapter that wasn’t Lin or Jovis.
Not only do these POVs slow everything down, I don’t think they added anything to the plot, especially Nisong. The point of having a POV for someone on the other side of a conflict is to show their side of things, maybe gain some shades of gray or get some sympathy for their side. But Nisong has no motivation except anger and just isn’t explained well enough to make me want to like her at all. An unknown villain out there that I only heard about through the other characters would have actually been more suspenseful and just moved the story along. If I’m supposed to hate a villain, I don’t need their POV and if I wasn’t supposed to just hate Nisong, the author failed at getting that across.
I almost went with 2 stars because the POVs are so frustrating but I really do like Lin and Jovis’ storyline and the overall world when that’s stripped away. Told properly, this could be a book I loved but this writing style makes me want to throw my Kindle at a wall every time there’s a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter and then the next chapter has me reading about a character on the other side of the empire doing something totally different and unimportant to the story. I’ll probably still read the last one when it comes out but need to remind myself to go in knowing it’s going to be painfully slow to read. So let’s say 2.5 stars.
Again, the world is great and 2/4 of the POVs are great. So if you’re ok with really slow fantasy or want to try it skipping every chapter that isn’t Lin or Jovis, go for it!
* I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.