Today I talked to Andrea Stewart about The Bone Shard Daughter: The Drowning Empire Book One (Hachette UK, 2020).
In a world of floating islands, various narrators try to achieve or avoid their destiny, or just understand the mysteries of their existence. There’s Lin, the Emperor’s daughter, set against her foster brother by the manipulative Emperor himself, who fosters the rivalry between them by bestowing keys as mark of his favor. The keys open various rooms which hold the secret to his power. The Emperor’s most powerful tool is the bone shard magic that he uses to program constructs, assemblages of beasts that he builds which then execute his commands. When the Emperor begins to show Lin’s foster brother how to use the bone shards, Lin is determined to find out the secret as well and position herself to be the next Emperor.
Then there’s Jovis, a talkative smuggler whose one aim in life is to find the woman he loves, who disappeared one day on a boat with blue sails. Jovis’s quest keeps getting sidelined though, as he becomes more and more involved with the resistance movement against the Emperor, led by the Shardless Few. The Emperor’s constructs are animated with small pieces of bone harvested from children, which he engraves with magical commands. Once the bone shard is activated, life drains from the donor. The Shardless Few have managed to evade the Emperor, and hope to break his rule over the Islands.
Other characters include a woman who gathers mangoes all day and has only dim memories of being brought there by a boat with blue sails. Who is she and why is she on this remote island? Does she know anything about Jovis’s lost love?
We also meet the governor’s daughter, whose lover embroils her in the struggle of the Shardless. Will the governor’s daughter turn against her own father?
As the story progresses, the characters come together in surprising ways. New alliances are forged, and secrets revealed.