I was excited to pick up the sequel to The Bone Shard Daughter, and at the beginning I thought I might love it. Lin and Jovis (and Thrana and Mephi) are still our primary characters. They distrust each other just as much as they need each other to keep the Empire afloat and their secrets from getting out. The other points of view, Phalue, Ranami, and Nisong, receive less focus, but continue to give insight into other areas of the Empire. The multiple points of view are managed well, and details from each fit together to provide an intricate and fully-realized world.
My favorite part of the first book was accompanying Lin as she deciphered bone shard magic and unwrapped her father’s secrets. It's a bold move to spend so much time setting up a magic system only to largely debilitate it's use, but the decision made sense, even as it placed Lin in yet another perilous position. There was still a lot I was looking forward to discovering about this world, including the Alangra, their magic and veiled history, and the extent of the secrets that Lin's father kept.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the uncovering of these details to be delivered as expertly as it was in the first book. I enjoyed some of the political maneuvering, and seeing this world’s magic in action is always exciting, but there wasn’t enough development to keep me engaged. Part of the problem is that we knew (or could easily guess) most of the reveals before the characters did, so it became tedious waiting for them to catch up. Despite some awesome scenes and action sequences at the beginning and end of the book, I spent a lot of the time in between waiting for things to move forward and being annoyed at the characters for being so unreasonably thick.
On the positive side, I’m still intrigued by this world and love a lot of the characters. Mephi’s sassiness is always a highlight, and I really loved watching Thrana gradually come out of her shell. I’m happy to say I enjoyed Phalue and Ranami’s POVs more this time around as they navigated their differences to do what was best for their island and maybe accidentally became responsible for a feral orphan child. The finale was tense and more satisfying than I was expecting, pulling everything together to leave me eager for the next book.
Despite my complaints, I did enjoy my time with The Bone Shard Emperor for the most part; I just wish it was a bit more impactful or, failing that, a bit shorter. The middle book in a trilogy is often difficult, but I’m still hopeful for a solid conclusion in The Bone Shard War next year.