Bone Shard Emperor (2021, Little, Brown Book Group Limited) 4 stars

Bone Shard Emperor

4 stars

I'm continuing my reread of this series before I get to the new final book in the trilogy. This book has Lin getting square into politics, avoiding assassination attempts, and trying to wrangle all of the islands and stepping into more mysteries that her father has left her. The climax of the book manages to believably get ~all of the major characters together into the same place for a final battle with some murky sides and shifting loyalties. I definitely appreciated the slow dribble of lore and backstory through journal translations; we learn a lot more about the Sukais, the empire, and the Alanga and I am here for all of it.

That said, I forgot just how uncomfortable this book was for me to read. I think it mostly revolves around the way Jovis is being pulled in multiple directions. I think it's one thing for the first book to have Jovis trying to leave the Ioph Carn smugglers (he just wants to leave, they feel betrayed) and being pursued by them while he tries to chase down Emahla. This is fine to me, maybe because he's clear about what he wants and up front about what he's about the whole time, and maybe it's because the book does a good job of writing the Ioph Carn as the creepy smuggling mafia that it's acceptable to spurn.

However, the first book ends with Jovis in a very new position and sworn loyalties, while simultaneously still being in contact with the Shardless Few and also dangerously getting reinvolved with the Ioph Carn. As always, it's not clear to him what the right thing is to do, and so he tries to play it every way. Maybe it's just my own personal discomfort with "lying to people you care about" and "not talking to people you (should)? trust" as narrative tension. Or, maybe it's just super effective on me grimacing emoji.