Read-along: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (week 3)

The Bone Shard Daughter: A Wyrd and Wonder Read-Along

Sheesh! Some Things have been revealed this week! And while none of the many mysteries have been truly unravelled yet, we are starting to see shapes in the mist … the truth may be stranger (and way creepier) than we think.

This week’s prompts have been provided by the awesome Lisa of Dear Geek Place, one of our three rather marvellous Wyrd and Wonder hosts. Schedule details for this read-along can be found here.

Watch out for the SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS!

 

Chapters 24 to 35 inclusive

Sand appears to be organising something of a rebellion herself – but against what? Any ideas about what might be happening to the people on Maila, and why? For that matter, do you have any theories about who Sand herself might be/where she came from?

OK, one: I am so into Sand’s storyline. And two, after suspecting Sand to be Emahla for a while I now think that she is Lin’s presumed-dead Mom (her memory of travelling in a palanquin and the missing fingers that were mentioned right back at the beginning now feel very significant – I wonder if the Emperor took them).

But I don’t know why. And it’s killing me!

I don’t know why the people on Maila have forgotten so much about themselves, although because of who I think Sand is, I wonder if they are all there at the Emperor’s command because what they know is somehow dangerous. But then, why not just kill them? Is he using their shards? Perhaps in his super-duper constructs? Or just in Ilith? Why would that be important? They don’t appear to be experiencing shard sickness. Are they being used in some other way? I don’t know. My thoughts are a whirl. But I’m really enjoying these snippets about Sand and the island.

Also, Emahla is being brought to Maila too. Why? Maybe it’s nothing to do with what people know. What could she have known that was a threat to the Emperor? I’m clearly barking up the wrong tree there … Perhaps this is nothing to do with the Emperor at all. Is it something to do with the Alanga? Or the Shardless Few? More clues needed! Argh!

 

Ranami got something of a taste of her own confrontational medicine in another discussion with Phalue, this week. What do you think the future holds for these two? Are either of them really in the right here?

I’m still really struggling with these two. I think I’m just going to have to accept that I don’t particularly like either of them. Unfortunately, this means that I don’t much care what happens to them – stay together or split up, convince the other of their own POV or not, whatever.

As for whether either of them is in the right … I’m more inclined to support Ranami’s POV, even though I don’t really like the way she and the Shardless Few are going about things (this feels like a doomed enterprise from the beginning, I’m not convinced that these people have what it takes to effect real change). And I don’t like Phalue’s almost deliberate ignorance of the social ills inherent in her island’s (and the Empire’s) way of life.

I wish I didn’t find them both so frustrating. I really thought they’d grow on me, but instead I find them more and more superfluous to the storyline.

 

“Fanatics were all alike, cut from the same cloth and dyed different colours.” Do you think this assessment of Gio by Jovis is accurate? And do you think it only applies to Gio?

Hmmm, this is a tough question. I haven’t developed a very clear impression of Gio. I don’t know if that’s a failing on my part as a reader, because I’ve yet to feel any real engagement with the plot unfolding on Phalue’s island. The information we’ve gleaned about him feels … contradictory? … He’s clearly an impressive fighter, and he seems to have the personality to drive the Shardless Few forward, but he doesn’t want to step into the power vacuum he intends to create and while his plans for a council of representatives sounds good, they’d be more convincing if he sounded prepared for the work it will take to create it. Instead he talks of wanting a quiet life on a farm somewhere, and Jovis knows he’s lying. Gio doesn’t feel like a fanatic to me. He feels like a character with a hidden agenda. He’s good at saying what people want to hear, but I think he’s driving towards something very different.

Speaking of Jovis, do you think his power really is connected to Mephi somehow, or is something else going on?

I don’t feel sure of this, but their separation hasn’t worked out well, has it? Mephi appears to be sick (his quiet little “I am alone” nearly broke me) and Jovis has suddenly lost his powers, and the only thing that’s changed seems to be that they’ve split up, so, long story short, yes, I think they’re connected somehow. But again, I don’t know how or why? And it’s the puzzle of it all that’s keeping me reading like fury.

 

“I lived in a dollhouse of my father’s making, a living graveyard.” We get part of the truth about Lin (and Bayan!) revealed this week, following a rather harrowing massacre; how do you feel about this particular twist? And what do you think the Emperor’s goal here might be?

Holy cow!! Bayan, one minute all melty and gross, the next reset to an earlier version with no memory of his fear of the Emperor finding him. Then Numeen and his whole family slaughtered. This was nearly too much! I was still reeling from the one thing when the next happened, and then Lin learned another sliver of truth about herself and I finished this week’s reading just sitting on the edge of the sofa with my mouth hanging open.

What is the Emperor’s goal here? I’ve no idea. Earlier on I could have believed he created Lin possibly out of grief, having lost her as a child, but I don’t think that’s it. He’s a really bad dude, I don’t think grief is his motivating force. Which leaves me with a whole bunch of question marks for this prompt. ?????

 

Now that we know more about the Emperor’s constructs, particularly Ilith… what do you make of the nature of her bone shard commands? Do you think she might prove to be a wild card?

Lin’s confrontation with Ilith was cool! And Ilith’s complexity is kind of mind-boggling. She’s like a whole other order of creature to the others, and while I get why she’d need to be, I’m intrigued as to how different her construction may have been. She feels too different to be a mere construct (hence my vague theories about the people on Maila Isle).

Also, can I just geek out about the nature of Ilith’s commands? This immediately made me think of computer programming and I just loved it so much. Suddenly Lin’s task seems insurmountable. Her studies so far haven’t brought her anywhere near the elegance and complexity of Ilith. I had been questioning the ease with which Lin was working her way through the Emperor’s top-level constructs (it all seemed just a little too easy considering she’s only just begun to study bone shard magic), so I was equal parts delighted and horrified when she hit a brick wall with the Construct of Spies.

And if Ilith starts to give us an idea of what the Emperor is capable of, it’s only so we can truly appreciate the final bombshell this week: Lin is the bone shard daughter, a construct herself, which begs the question: what’s the Emperor trying to do with her that she’s “not quite perfect”?

 

My next post for this read-along can be found here:

Week 4 – Chapter 36 to end

14 thoughts on “Read-along: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (week 3)

  1. I am 100% with you in enjoying Maila and rolling my eyes at Nephilanu Island. I initially put my dissatisfaction with Phalue/Ranami down to them being underdrawn, but Sand is also very thinly sketched – although she has plot reasons for being that way and bags of mystery to go with her! Phalue/Ranami … eh. They’re each wrapped up in their own world view and kinda selfish, and their arc is SO predictable – and I think that’s my problem. I’ve read The Unbroken and Queen of the Conquered this year, both of which show the complexities and conflicts of a rebellion; by comparison, Phalue/Ranami are basic idealised fantasy rebellion 101 – they’ve ended up feeling more like a plot device to me than characters / a plot in their own right.

    I’m also with you on geeking out over constructs as a form of fantasy programming. I love that with that last minute curveball this week, we’re suddenly in a narrative that has room to explore one of my favourite SFnal concepts – AI sentience – but in a FANTASY setting. Bravo, Andrea Stewart.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad not to be the only one disappointed with Phalue and Ranami – and am nodding along furiously when you said they’re more a device than characters.
      And omg, yes! Fantasy AI?! I am so, so into this! 😆

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh dang. I completely missed all the stuff about Sand maybe being the Emperor’s wife. I think you’re onto something with that.

    And I really agree on there not being enough clues to solve the remaining mysteries – frustrating but keeping me going! I think it’ll all come clear at the right time. Hopefully.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you’re right that things will become clear. The author seems to have very carefully planned what she will reveal and when. Or that’s my feeling when reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My only qualm/thought on not getting revelations is wondering what Stewart’s got planned for being revealed this book, and what she’s got planned for being said next book.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I had sort of dismissed the idea of Sand as the Emperor’s wife because I thought surely the Emperor loved her and wouldn’t send her off like that but you are making me reconsider a bit… what if he decided to experiment with his own wife about inserting shards into real people, and it didn’t work out? It does say they were both very curious and scholarly and maybe she became too ambitious for him?? Who knows! Also interesting that she has the fingers missing and the Emperor has a toe missing… COMPLEXITIES!! I do still like my theory of the Maila people being failed constructs but who knows.

    I also agree that Gio has another agenda. He is SKETCHY! And very contradictory…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really like your Maila theory, and there’s nothing to say both things could be true.
      But missing fingers and toes … I can’t help but feel they’re connected.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I also enjoyed the confrontation between Lin and Ilith. Her confrontations with the other constructs were straight forward but Ilith is more complicated. She seems much more self-aware. I like their conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

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