By Andrew Shvarts
Release Date: May 30, 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 . .
While I love the TV show Game of Thrones, I am not one to pick up a fantasy book when it's time to pick something new to read. Yes, I'm obsessed with the ACOTAR series, but other than that, I haven't found a fantasy book I love and can immerse myself in. I was excited to try out Royal Bastards, though, and see if it really was a YA GoT.
Born a bastard, Tilla has always wanted her father, Lord Kent, to love her. She's grown up exploring the secret tunnels under the castle with her best friend and her half-brother, both of whom are also bastards of the upper class. Tilla has accepted her place, but when princess Lyriana visits and a rebellion threatens everything Tilla has ever known, Tilla finds herself, the princess, and three other bastards running for their lives to stop a war that will be too deadly to allow. As the five run and try to survive long enough to stop the war, they realize blood does not define a person and they could have the power to change history.
Starting this book, I appreciated how easy it was to read. Tilla and her friends tend to talk like modern day teenagers, even though they're in a fantasy world that appears to be from a long time ago. It was very easy to follow along and enjoy the antics of regular teenagers who just so happen to live in a castle and are trying to protect a princess and prevent a war from starting. I enjoyed how many of the main characters could bond over being bastards and how they explored familial relationships and what exactly it meant to be family with someone else. There were also some romantic relationships that developed throughout this book that I really enjoyed.
Since this is a fantasy, you can bet there is going to be some action. I really enjoyed how our characters were on the run from some pretty nasty people and they were looking over their shoulders every second. There was a sense of urgency and I was worried for our characters with every page. I wanted them to make it to their destination safely and I wanted them to stop the war that was brewing. I enjoyed the fight scenes, though I did think some pacing was off as they were traveling since large chunks of time had to pass. I'm not sure if I believed how the characters grew and evolved over the book since the time jumped a month here and there to progress the plot.
Overall, I actually really enjoyed this fantasy. It was a very easy read and I enjoyed the suspenseful moments, as well as the relationships between family and the more romantic relationships.