Series: Royal Bastards #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 30th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing shown, Some talk of sex, Violence)
Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.
At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.
Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.
Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.
The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .
This is SO my type of fantasy—filled with magic, friendship, peril and romance (with a good heap of backstabbing on the side)! Loyalties are tested, bonds are formed (and broken) and a whole bunch of people die. Yep—my kind of book!
What Fed My Addiction:
- Tilla. To me, Tilla represents the perfect character balance. She’s tough, smart, fierce and loyal, but she’s not completely fearless and she’s not some sort of superhero. In fact, if it were up to her, she’d be living a life of nobility (and leisure). Secretly she’s been craving her father’s affection—affection she had as a child until his “real” daughters were born. Tilla has never been able to completely shake the desire to find herself in her father’s good graces, but she’s mostly given up hope that it will actually happen. I immediately related to Tilla and I was rooting for her throughout the entire book—no matter what side she fell on!
- Friendship! I loved the bond that formed between Tilla, Jax, Miles, Zell and Lyriana as they ran for their lives. On the surface, they seemed like an unlikely team—and there were lots of reasons that they shouldn’t have worked well together, but they found that the longer they spent in each other’s company, the more they felt like family.
- Shifting loyalties. Tilla (and her friends) find themselves in an incredibly difficult situation and have to determine where their loyalties lie. Protecting Lyriana means betraying their own people, especially if things devolve into war (which seems likely). And then there’s the question of who’s actually right—although Tilla doesn’t agree with the tactics being used, she’s not 100% sure which side of the war she even should support—she can see it from both sides. Are her people fighting for freedom from oppression or simply waging war for the sake of power? And who is more dangerous, the deadly mages or her own father?
- Magic and mayhem. Lots of both!!! This book kept me on my toes and continuously wowed me. I didn’t even skim the fight scenes because they were all so important to the character development. (And that’s saying something coming from me!) Oh, and the book gave me every single one of the feels along the way.
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- Romance development? Hmmm… maybe I could have used a teensy bit more development of the romance, but honestly, in this type of book I almost prefer that the romance take a backseat to the plot and the friendships. And it was still definitely there—nothing even close to instalove, so…
I can’t find any info on how many books are going to be included in this series, but you should know going in that the ending to this one gives us a little closure but doesn’t feel at all like The End. (Thank goodness! I want more!) I plan to pass this book along to my 15-year-old son next. I’m convinced he’ll love it!
Royal Bastards reminds me a bit of Robin Hobb’s books (with maybe a bit less complex worldbuilding), so if you’re a fan of those, I highly recommend this. It would also be perfect for anyone who likes the idea of epic fantasy but can’t quote bring themselves to read those HUGE tomes that brilliant folks like Sanderson write for us. Basically, if you’re a fan of fantasy, I think you should check this one out. I give it an easy 4.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Andrew Shvarts is an author of novels and video games. He has a BA in English Literature and Russian from Vassar College. He works for Pixelberry Studios as a designer, making mobile games like High School Story, Choices, and more. Andrew lives in San Jose, California, with his wife, toddler, and two kittens.