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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Book #1 of the Royal Bastards series
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication: May 2017 by Disney-Hyperion
Acquisition: I received an egalley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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 . . .
(from Goodreads)
4 / 5 Stars

This was a weird read for me. I really felt connected to the characters but the story itself was a little too neat and clean.

What I liked:
The adventure for sure. Lots of running and hiding and thinking quick and putting aside assumptions and unearthing all the secrets and lies.
Also, the character interactions were great. Everyone felt like a solid piece of the story and even when actions were surprising (there are a few twists!) they fell in line with how I viewed everyone so nothing really seemed far fetched or out of the blue.
The romance -- some call it insta love which omg I hate so much but even though it happened quickly...I still really fell for it all.

What I didn't like:
That neatest I mentioned. Don’t get me wrong - the story isn't simple or boring but the way things ended seemed to tidy. A little too many loose ends were tied up and I've heard this is part 1 of a trilogy? I can see where there would be room to explore more of the story but I'm also worried it wouldn't fit well with what we already know? But on the other hand, there is a lot these characters can still do. See what I mean about it being a bit weird for me? Pretty hard to put this one in a nice little box!

Final thoughts:
I really connected with the characters, I loved the setting and the overall story - love the fantasy elements - and even though I would be happy with Royal Bastards being a standalone, I'm still lusting after book 2 so I would say this is a solid start to a hopefully fabulous series.

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