Read-along: The Bone Shard Daughter – week four

The Bone Shard Daughter Read-along

It’s the final week of the Wyrd and Wonder read-along, where we’re discussing The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart. There’s absolutely no avoiding spoilers now, so proceed at your own risk! Mayri the BookForager is our host for this final week.

I admit I finished week three, wrote up my post and charged straight on to the end because damn I needed answers. I didn’t get as many as I’d like, though – The Bone Shard Daughter is working hard to set up the rest of the series. Andrea Stewart’s twists and turns will definitely bring me back for more.

 1. Lin’s a construct, Bayan’s a construct, the people on Maila Isle are constructs … Let’s talk about constructs! We now know far more, but still not enough. What are your thoughts and feelings on the nature of constructs?

I’m still laughing at how Lin’s nature was foreshadowed by the book title. The Bone Shard Daughter indeed – and now The Bone Shard Emperor. I am still mostly horrified by the very concept of constructs, if also in awe at what the former Emperor was capable of. That little moment with Jovis – Lin has Emahla’s eyes – takes on a very different note when you realise that may be entirely literal (and how will Jovis react to that should he find out?).

However, I’m not sure whether the people of Maila are constructs or whether they are an experiment in using bone shards to control people. I’m probably splitting hairs – Bayan appears to have been a sort of clone; and Lin is …grafted? I don’t know, and I’m not actually sure I want to think about it too hard. But fair to say that the definition of construct is much broader than I first thought. You’d think the whole spider with the old lady’s face might have been enough of a clue, but I refer you back to the book title: sometimes I can’t see what’s right in front of me.

2. Hot on the heels of the revelation that she was not born but made, Lin has learned why she was made *shudder*. Reaction shots, please.

…well, I’ll take my points. It’s grim, isn’t it? It’s one thing to have been made and another to have been made as a replacement – and yet another to have then been told you’re the daughter of the person you are meant to become. WHAT THE HELL SHIYEN.

To cut him the teensiest bit of slack, it doesn’t look like he was recreating Nisong to take her to wife again – I think he intended her to marry Replacement Shiyen aka Bayan – but it’s all still awfully fucked up. Even if I’m now tempted to reread to see if he literally tells her she’s his daughter or if she’s always been told she’s his heir and drawn her own conclusions. She calls him Father to his face, right?

But woah this man had trust issues. His daughter dies, his wife dies (probably, maybe, we’ll come back to that)… and rather than thinking I should remarry or The Emperor needs an heir, I’d best adopt, he thinks Oh I’ll make myself a new one. WHAT THE HELL SHIYEN.

3. The Emperor is dead. (Hurray!) Phalue has successfully usurped her father as governor. (Yay?) Change is on the wind and those Alanga paintings have opened their eyes… Care to make any predictions for what’s coming? Do you think the Alanga are really a threat? 

I am so on the fence about the Alanga. On the one hand, I love seeing this sort of set-up turn out to be nothing but noises off as a distraction, subverting expectations; on the other, I’ll be kinda disappointed if the Alanga don’t put in an appearance. However, the statues and paintings make me think I’ll be getting my wish and they’ll be back. The question is whether they’ll live up to their fearsome reputation or if the victors have taken care to misrepresent them in history… From what we’ve learned along the way, I get the impression that there were as many factions within the Alanga as any culture – so I suspect some will be more of a threat than others (although I guess none of them are likely too be fond of a Sukai Emperor!)

4. We’ve also discovered the identity of Sand. Possibly. She has memories that suggest she is Nisong, but she is a construct just like Lin. What does it all mean?? (Not a rhetorical question – please tell me what it all means!)

So I can see this working one of two ways.

My original theory was that the Maila islanders are previous Lins and Bayans: people or constructs imprinted with the memory machine and then banished to Maila when they were deemed failures, with a control shard limiting them to simple, repetitive actions (why waste lots of good shards?)

The biggest problem with this is that it’s a lot of effort to go to vs – not to put too fine a point on it – scrapping them for parts. It implies the Emperor couldn’t bring himself to destroy them, which is crediting him with rather more emotion than we ever saw evidenced. Unless, perhaps, they had his face – or Nisong’s face… which they might have. I can’t see that Sand ever describes the islanders. She doesn’t mention that they all look alike, but the only descriptions I found were age (Grass is old) and strength (Leaf is frail). And if they’ve been on the island different lengths of time – and Emahla was kidnapped years ago – then they would be different ages and in varying states of health…

My other fresh shoot of a theory is that Sand is literally Nisong. We still don’t know how old Sand is, just that she’s fit enough to climb mango trees; could Nisong have been banished rather than died? In which case are they all dissidents (rather than constructs) with shards inserted to control them and stop them causing trouble – the root of the Emperor’s paranoia? If people he trusted completely betrayed him, his reliance on constructs makes moore sense. It’s a tempting idea (although again: why not just execute them), but the ongoing arrivals makes it highly unlikely. The Emperor we know would definitely just execute people.

…but what if the answer is both? Having been betrayed, the Emperor is trying to recreate himself and an improved beloved to rule forever through constructs and memory prints. His experimental failures join Nisong on Maila – and that’s why some islanders can ‘shake off’ their programming and some can’t: some of them are people and some are flawed constructs.

5. Jovis and Mephi have arrived on Imperial Island and come face to face with Lin and Thrana. This is an Interesting Development. What are your theories on Mephi and Thrana? Also on the Emperor’s laboratory and what he was using Thrana for? 

Soooooo remember how there used to be a witstone mine on Imperial and it was closed? And remember how there used to be a witstone mine on Deerhead? Okay, so Imperial didn’t sink but Thrana hasn’t left Imperial. And witstone is used to power things and it looked a lot like Thrana was the power source for Shiyen’s cloning pool? Only I think maybe in her case ‘power source’ might have (also?) been life source – breathing life into the clones much as Mephi heals Jovis…

…I’m out of space on my murderboard. I better get a bigger one before The Bone Shard Emperor comes out in November.

Thoughts from around the Endless Sea

But wait, this is a read-along – what did everybody else have to say?

Links will be added once they go live.

Don’t see your blog here? I may have missed you are joining us – add your post to the Wyrd and Wonder master schedule and I’ll pick it up and include you here.

That’s it for this year’s read-along – thank you to everyone who took part, I’ve had so much fun sharing theories and squeaking at developments with you all!

Watch out for news of other group reads (ahem Kushiel’s Avatar anyone?) that may pop up before we meet again for Wyrd and Wonder next year…