“How many of you have I entertained? How many of you were proud to be seen in my company?” Her eyes flashed. “How many of you kissed my lips and shared my bed?”
In the final installment in The Drowning Empire trilogy, Emperor Lin finds herself on the brink of her empire’s collapse. Enemies beset her on all sides, and her allies are few and scattered. She enters into a desperate race to save her empire, but are her actions enough?
The Bone Shard War is breathtaking and impossible to put down. As the stakes get higher, the choices made by all the characters become ever more critical. The fate of the empire- indeed many people’s lives- depends on the decisions of a few. I loved seeing that every character plays a role in the empire’s collapse or salvation, even those who have had lesser roles, like Ayesh the adopted child of Phalue and Ranami.
As with the other books in the trilogy, The Bone Shard War is split between multiple points of view. Each is well-written and distinctive enough that it’s never confusing, despite the many events (or disasters) being discussed in each separate chapter. As events unfold, the characters weave in and out of the main story, that of Lin’s attempt to hold onto a rapidly failing empire. It was extremely gratifying to see the seemingly disparate threads of narratives line up, becoming a complex multi-layered story, epic in scale and beautifully written.
Jovis and Mephi continue to be my favorites. Poor Jovis finds himself trapped by Kaphra, forced to be his weapon. His point of view was doubly fantastic because, on top of wondering how- or if- he will ever escape, he grapples with questions of morality. Is he a hero or has he become a villain? How can a person weigh lives saved against evil deeds? It was at times heartbreaking, yet always enthralling. And I just adore Mephi, of course.
Lin, now Emperor, is struggling with the many problems that rulers are plagued with: dissatisfaction among other leaders, groups of dissenters (some of whom may have violent agendas), and war. On top of everything are the sinking islands. She is convinced that magical blades, mentioned in history texts, hold the key to at least some of these problems. She is singly focused on finding them, but in the process seems to be losing sight of the needs of her people. I kind of thought she was a lousy ruler, which made her good intentions and the justifications for her choices even more interesting. At times I truly didn’t like her, making her an even more fascinating character.
Meanwhile, Phalue and Ranami are in two different places, fighting their own individual battles. While their story arcs have been less interesting to me in previous books, Ranami’s chapters kept me riveted in The Bone Shard War. Her skills, which have less to do with fighting and more to do with words, are showcased in ways that are quiet yet important. I loved seeing a different aspect of battle; one that is more intentional and sometimes even more dangerous.
There is no downtime in this book. The Bone Shard War races toward a heartstopping conclusion which kept me on the edge of my seat. The writing was superb. Author Andrea Stewart has created a unique world and memorable characters. The Bone Shard War is a stunning conclusion to an amazing series. Don’t miss this one!
Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.