The Emperor's Bone Palace
by Hailey Turner
Book 2 in the Infernal War Saga
Every heart is meant to break.
THE NAMELESS. As a warden, Soren’s duty is to guard against the dead, but he was never trained to guard against his heart. Drawn into a web of Solarian politics, Soren finds himself at the center of a storm of his own making, unwilling to break free if it means losing the man he loves. But even the darkest secrets cannot remain hidden forever, and when lies come to light, the price he pays for his silence may very well be his undoing.
THE EMPEROR. When his claim to the Imperial throne is challenged by a traitorous House, Vanya Sa’Liandel must adhere to the ancient tradition of the Conclave to stay in power. Refusing to face his peers alone, Vanya will stand before the Houses of Solaria with Soren by his side, a decision that risks his heart when an unspeakable betrayal threatens everything he’s fought for.
THE REBEL. With her entire world upended, Caris Dhemlan is on the run, struggling to come to terms with the truth of her heritage. As the Clockwork Brigade is targeted by Daijal, she must fight to save the people she cares about. Every rebellion needs a figurehead, but Caris is determined not to become a martyr.
THE QUEEN. With a crown claimed, Eimarille Rourke sets her sights on Ashion and the continent beyond her country’s borders. Promised a world by a star god, Eimarille sets into motion the gears of war and launches the opening salvo of a battle whose repercussions will ripple across the whole of Maricol.
Listen fellow book nerds.
I finished The Emperors Bone Palace several days ago now, and was in that wonderful state of finishing an amazing book, and in need to just marinate my thoughts and feelings. I chose to wait a few days to write my review. Honestly, if I didn't do that, I would think a lot of the books I've read are the best I've ever read. It's good to take some time, and sort out your thoughts.
After a few days, my feelings are the same.
The Emperor's Bone Palace is an AMAZING book.
Probably the best I've read not just this year, but in a long time.
I won't lie, I was worried. I usually am when it comes to going into the second book in a trilogy. A lot - and I mean a lot - of trilogies suffer from second book syndrome. They become filler books. Useless in the grand scheme of things until the very end, when something happens that actually continues the story, and makes you want to read the final book.
Hailey Turner did not succumb to the dreaded second book syndrome.
Hailey Turner continued her epic steampunk fantasy, and did the impossible.
She made it better.
The Emperor's Bone Palace, much like The Prince's Poisoned Vow, wastes no time. Everything written either enhances this already incredibly imaginative, rich world Hailey has created, adds growth to her well-written, deeply human characters, or adds to the ever present tension and action of the war. Hailey has this magic to her writing, where as the reader, you can picture everything in this book as a film in your head. Her descriptions of the world and characters are clean and concise, but also unique and complex, so it plays out visually in your head in such an epic way. In a world that runs off of steam run devices and magic, has gods and goddesses that walk the earth, and has such a vast landscape, I think it would have been too easy to make every country, every kingdom or territory similar, but every place in this book is unique. The characters that represent each territory, with their looks, personalities, and overall cultural differences just adds a richness to this world that I haven't come across since reading Lord of the Rings as a teenager.
When the only books I can compare this series to in terms of world building is Lord of the Rings, that is one of the highest compliments I can give a writer. Say what you want about Lord of the Rings - I personally find the books boring - but Tolkien created an incredibly rich world, and Hailey does in these books as well. Definitely one of the most diverse, interesting ones I have ever come across.
The world building? Epic. The characters? Rich and interesting. The romance? I can say with total confidence, is also amazing. And this is a romance book blog, so let's dig in by couple, shall we?
Honovi and Blaine - I fell in love with these two back in The Prince's Poisoned Vow, and it's no different now. I love Honovi's loyalty to Blaine, his deep love for him, and his respect to Blaine's road. I love Blaine's love for Honovi, but also his perservernece on walking the road set out for him. Their relationship is established from the start, but the true magic of this couple is their devotion to one another, and any moment we get both of them on page are some of my favorites in this book.
Soren and Vanya - these two are probably my favorite couple in this series. To see where they begin, how their relationship evolves from mutual attraction to one of love and devotion, despite duty, is honestly some of the most gripping storylines in this book. If you haven't read it yet, I don't want to spoil it, but both Vanya's and Soren's arcs in The Emperor's Bone Palace had my heart racing and the tears flowing. The last sentence in the book had me mentally squealing and devastated it was the end of the book.
Caris and Nathaniel - I like these two, and after the ending of the last book, I was heartbroken for them. The bond between them is so innocent and good, I was horrified by it being turned around and used for dark purposes. I enjoyed the direction Hailey brought these two characters, and while I felt the romance between them, this book was truly centered around Caris and her coming to terms with who she is, her birthright, and the heavy expectations now on her shoulders. As it should be, really. It would be easy to get sidetracked by the romance, but Hailey definitely knew what was the most important for both of these characters. I loved how Hailey didn't make Caris this a full on "I am Queen" character. Her hesitation on claiming the Rourke bloodline and being the figurehead leader of the rebellion felt so real to how a good and decent person would feel in her shoes. She truly is Eimarille's complete opposite.
Which brings me to Eimarille and Terilyn - from a romance point of view, they are an interesting couple. There is an obvious power dynamic here that is unhealthy, but Terilyn doesn't resent Eimarille's authority over her, so there is that. She seems perfectly content with it, so if it works for them, it works. They seem to truly love one another, so from a romantic perspective, it's nice. Their feelings for one another, and their protectiveness over Eimarille's son, is probably the only relatable qualities to them. I just don't like them as people and this book confirmed those feelings. Considering we get both of their perspectives, I am interested in how this all plays out in the end. I have predictions, but Hailey will probably surprise me.
The Emperor's Bone Palace was a phenomenal addition to Hailey Turner's Infernal War Saga. She honestly blew me away with this book, and days later, my heart still beats a little faster when I think of the tension, the action, the love and pain Hailey gave us in this book. As I said on Instagram, I truly believe Hailey Turner could be one of the best fantasy writers of our generation and I can't wait to explore more of her work in the future ... And read the last book in this epic trilogy.
Coming soon! Enjoy these teasers while I work on this ❤️