Book Review: “The Bone Shard Emperor” by Andrea Stewart (ARC)

***Thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.***

“Rebellion didn’t come with instructions.”

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?

The Bone Shard Daughter was one of my favorite books of 2021 (review here). I absolutely adored it. So it was with no small amount of anticipation that I waited for the sequel. And then, to my shock, I was approved for an eARC on Netgalley. Did I read it on time? Obviously not. I didn’t even start it until the book was released. Oops. But hey, better late than never.

I went into The Bone Shard Daughter with lowered expectations, and wound up giving it five stars. Therefore, I went into Emperor expecting another knockout. And, well… it’s not bad or anything. It just isn’t as good as the first book.

The main things I liked– the world and the characters– I mostly found enjoyable from the previous book. I mean, the story here is interesting enough, but isn’t as solid as I know Stewart is capable of. At least it’s compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down!

Honestly, the main problem with this book is that it feels like set-up for the final book. So many threads and plotlines are stuffed in here, none of them fully resolved. It feels messy. In some ways, it’s meant to be. But it didn’t quite feel messy-on-purpose.

In a similar vein, many of the twists and reveals are rather obvious and clumsily handled. I could see so many of them coming a mile away. Predictable twists aren’t necessarily a problem, but Stewart gave us much better twists in Daughter. I know she’s capable of more, so it’s all the more disappointing.

Speaking of disappointing, I feel so let down by the lack of character development. Lin and Jovis keep cycling through the same inner conflicts and disputes. By the end, they’re almost right back where they started. I think the only character that really changes at all is Ranami, and even then it’s minute.

Lastly, I need to talk about the Lin/Jovis romance. I haven’t read a romance that felt more forced in a long time. They have no romantic chemistry whatsoever. In fact, they could’ve just been friends and their story and conflict would have the exact same impact. Their romance is completely unnecessary.

Would I recommend this book? Yeah, if you’re a fan of the series. Will I continue? Of course. I just hope The Bone Shard Emperor is suffering from middle book syndrome, and not a portent of what the finale will be like. Andrea Stewart, please don’t let me down. 

OwnVoices Chinese-inspired world with exclusively Chinese analog characters & one mixed race character & 2 lesbians

Mentions of parental abuse (no children) & some mild body horror

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Have you read The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart? What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss in the comments!

One thought on “Book Review: “The Bone Shard Emperor” by Andrea Stewart (ARC)

  1. I just started this one (so didn’t really read your review..), but I also absolutely loved book one earlier this year! And so far I’m really liking this one as well!


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