Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Publication date: June 6, 2017
Summary from Netgalley:
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 . . .
ARC provided by the publisher via NewGalley for an honest review.
The world the author created for this book is very interesting. I found it very intriguing that each lord or lady was able to bring up a ‘bastard’ that they had sired and at some point either acknowledge them and allow them to inherit or totally disown them. It makes for an interesting upbringing, always being on the edge of the family, but not really part of it. It could either make you stronger or break you. In Tilla’s case it very much makes her stronger.
Tilla is your typical heroine, tough and resilient, but she is also full of self doubt, especially where her father is involved. You can tell that she really cares about him, but she is able to turn away from him when she needs to. Tilla is also very smart, and thinks well on her feet and in sticky situations. Everything is told from her point of view, and at times I wished we could have heard from some of the others.
Jax, Tilla’s half brother, is comedian of the group. His jokes are often crude and sometime not funny, but he loyal to Tilla and will protect her against everything. I really liked him, it would have been nice to see a little bit more of him. Even though he is part of the group, he is always in the background.
Miles was an interesting character. He was maybe the smartest of the group, but also the most immature and unwilling member of the group. He was the one who came up with answers of what to do when ever something needed doing. But his love for Tilla was his downfall in the end.
Zell was my favorite character. He was brooding but also sensitive. I liked that he was willing to teach Tilla how to fight even though women in his culture were not allowed to. I found his culture, or what we learn of it, very interesting and I want to learn more about it. When we do learn about his past, it was heartbreaking, but you could understand him better once you know.
Lyrianna was also a good character. She was amazing when she needed to be and not at all a princess when they were saving each other. I also found her mage culture interesting, they get their power from rings left behind by a race of people called Titans. It is these rings that end up causing all of their problems from the beginning to the end of the book.
The whole plot is pretty typical of this type of book, but there were a few plot twists that made it an interesting read. Overall I liked the book, and had a hard time putting it down. I did however have a small issue with some of the dialog. At times it sounded like they were all just a group of American teenagers hanging out after school and not fighting for their survival. I don’t know at this point if this is the first book in a series, but I hope it does continue as things were sort of left up in the air at the end.