Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Expected publication: June 6th 2017
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…
Royal Bastards was one of my most anticipated books of 2017. I was super excited to start it but it took me forever and a half to finish it. This book is such a roller coaster. I liked it and then I didn’t think I could finish it, it was such a back and forth battle. But even though I have my problems with this book, it got me emotionally invested in the plot and the characters.
My biggest problem with this book is the characters. Two of the main characters, Tilla and Miles, annoyed me so much. Miles was such a boring character to me and Tilla was just really mean at times. She was so unsympathetic a few times toward Lyriana and it really bothered me. I’m not going to go into detail because I won’t give out spoilers but she was kind of mean with her thoughts. She caught herself and changed her thinking, which I appreciated, but I still thought it was really mean of her.
I did like Lyriana, Jax, and Zell though. I also really appreciated how Lyriana was so explicitly described of being a POC. There’s not a lot of POC in YA fantasy and Lyriana is much needed. (I don’t remember for sure if any of the other characters are described as POC but it’s likely that they’re described and I just don’t remember because I already pictured everyone as POC and skipped over their description)
I did like the writing style but the dialogue was oddly modern at times and it threw me off. Maybe I’m just being overly critical but it was just the little things in this book that bothered me.
I loved the concept and plot so much. If I didn’t find Tilla and Miles to be so annoying, I would have had a blast reading this book.
One thing that really surprised me was how unexpectedly violent this book was. I don’t really have a problem with it but if you’re sensitive bloody fight scenes, you might want to pass on this book or just skip through those parts.
Overall, even though I’m not head over heels for this book like I thought I was going to be, I loved the concept, plot, and three of the characters. This book did keep me engaged and I was emotionally invested. If you’re a critical reader like me, this book might not be for you, especially if you expect a lot from fantasy books. I do think it’s worth the chance though. Just don’t have super high expectations like I did.