Title: Royal Bastards
Author: Andrew Shvarts
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
ISBN-10: 1484767659 (Disney-Hyperion)
ISBN-13: 978-1484767658 (Disney-Hyperion)
Reviewed by: Kristie
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 . . .
Quick & Dirty: Five unlikely teens go on an adventure and learn the value of friendship in a highly entertaining story.
Opening Sentence: Princess Lyriana came to Castle Waverly two months after I turned sixteen.
Royal Bastards is a young adult fantasy novel that intrigued me from the very beginning. I was hooked right away and once the novel hits the pivotal scene of what brings all these characters together it just doesn’t let up. I was instantly hooked by the characters’ interactions with one another and I really wanted to know how this situation would play out because it wasn’t pleasant for anyone.
Tilla is a bastard. This is in a country that values bastards for their potential as heirs. Tilla has had a pretty comfortable lifestyle living in a castle. She is expected to learn like a princess but she is given free reign with what she does because her potential to actually be an heir is low. Tilla spends a lot of time with her half-brother Jax, a stable hand. Jax is also a bastard. He just has a different father than Tilla. Tilla’s father is the Lord of Waverly in the West country. The story starts with Tilla and Jax setting up the strange values and rules of the land while they are waiting for the Princess Lyriana to visit.
At a dinner in Princess Lyriana’s honor, we meet the third and fourth members of this merry bastard band. Miles is the bastard of Hempstead and unlike Tilla, he is the only son of the Lady of the house and stands a good chance of becoming Named. Then Zell is the bastard son of the Zitochi leader. They strike up an unlikely conversation when Lyriana sits at the bastard table just because she wants to see how they live. But it is when they all decide to sneak to the beach that the real trouble begins. These teen witness Lyriana’s uncle’s murder and are forced to go on the run.
Each of these five “bastards” have their own story to tell and some of them may not even be bastards in the since that the word is used in this story. The story was fast paced and a quick read. The basis of the story is very dark and disturbing and may not be for those who don’t like violence and murder in their stories. I will say that this is a story I very much enjoyed and I cannot wait for the sequel.
I loved the comradery between the characters especially since they didn’t trust each other in the beginning but they had to learn to work together if they were going to survive their situation. This story is told from Tilla’s point of view but it is a team effort. I really liked how Tilla was conflicted about following Lyriana or following her father. Tilla doesn’t want war or more killing but she really had to think hard about what side she needed to follow. Who is to say which side is the correct side in a war, family or the new-found friendship she finds with Lyriana.
Lyriana was the only character I wasn’t sure about in the beginning because she had that arrogant, royal flair. She was quite rude to the bastards. She undergoes the biggest transformation in the series.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I really can’t wait until the final one. I liked the transformation of the characters. My only complaint is that I was I could see the “twist” or “turn” in the book from a million miles away. It was how it played out that surprised me.
I found him at the center of the quarry, practicing. He was doing a slightly different routine this time: fewer twirls and rolls, more stabs and blocks. But he still had the same precise focus, the same rhythmic, graceful moves. He barely looked up as I approached him, and only really stopped when I stood right in his path.
“Hey,” I said. “I’d like you to teach me to fight.”
Zell blinked at me, perplexed, as if I’d just asked him to teach me to fly. “Why?”
“Because I don’t want your brother to kill me. So teach me how to fight him.”
“My brother is second only to my father in skill. You wouldn’t have a chance against him.”
“Fine. Then he’ll win. But I want to at least go down with a fight.”
FTC Advisory: Disney-Hyperion provided me with a copy of Royal Bastards. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.