Thank you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for giving me a free, digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
This book has been on my radar since I first heard about it. While I felt the synopsis gave a lot away, I’m always up for a YA fantasy, and thankfully, this book didn’t let me down.
Title: Royal Bastards
Author: Andrew Shvarts
Expected release date: May 30, 2017
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 352 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “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 was a near perfect read for me. It was a quick and easy read, too. Nothing too complicated, and nothing that felt like info-dumping either. I finished this book in a matter of days, and already I hope there’s a sequel planned. While reading this book, I had a funny thought though: I had heard next to nothing about this book, whether it be on the #bookstagram community or Twitter, which is really sad because if you enjoy fantasy, you’ll enjoy this book.
There isn’t anything too complex about this novel. The world-building is good, and there may have been times I became confused but I think it’s mainly because there was no map in the eARC version. (Was there one in the physical ARC? Can someone help me out there?) The protagonists are all enjoyable characters, and I liked the internal conflict Tilla, the main character, felt as the story progressed.
What started as a group of unknowns bastards quickly became a tight-knit group of friends (despite the plot twist, which I didn’t see coming! I’m horrible at guessing those). I also wasn’t expecting the amount of feels when Zell, the Zitochi warrior, shared his story. But I think I’ve found another OTP so heyyyyy, I’m not complaining! 😉 Princess Lyriana came to be one of my favorite characters, too. Despite being only fifteen and a bit childish in the beginning, it becomes obvious she hasn’t seen a lot of hardship and of course has lived a fairly pampered life. n the beginning, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Princess Lyriana, but I’m glad she came to prove her own. In her case, I loved the magical aspect of this book, the idea of mages, rings, and different types of magical schools. This is why I’m hoping for a sequel because I’d love to see this explored in later books.
Some might say this book is predictable, and while we see the good guys persevere as usual, as I said before, I’m horrible at predicting things or looking out for plot twists, so I found myself unable to put this book down. However, I did wish there was a bit more descriptions, not in terms of world-building but just in terms of everyday things: buildings, the outdoors, etc.
I enjoyed the action, too, and author did well putting obstacles into the characters way. When I felt like something dragged, an event or scene came to change my mind and rile me up again. I’ll definitely add this book to my own library when it’s released!