Author: Andrew Shvarts
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Royal Bastards # 1
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Publication: May 30, 2017 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a 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 . . .
This is Shvarts’s debut novel, and as debuts goes; it’s a pretty solid beginning. I liked the idea of the story, a group of misfit/underdogs fighting the bad guys or it this case an entirely powerful kingdom. However, the world building itself is fairly standard, straightforward and has been done before. I found the kingdom, history and magic system too simplistic. Readers are given the basic of everything and not enough detail. The characters also suffered from the same problem, which was not a lot of depth and development. But don’t get me wrong, I adored the characters. They were your typical teenagers who were looking for a good time but ended up being heroes and saving their kingdom accidentally. I’d say everything that happened to them, happened by accidents. They never planned anything and if they did it usually went side ways quickly. I loved their interaction with each other and watching their bond grow over the course of their journey of trying to get the princess to safety. They always had one another back and just the whole comradery was endearing.
If you’re looking for a light fantasy read that’s fun and has loads of action, then Royal Bastards will without a doubt be the book for you. Overall I enjoyed Royal Bastards and thought it had some good parts and other parts that could have used a little more work. I’m positive that the next book in the series will resolve some of the world building and character development issues now that the foundation is set. Would I recommend Royal Bastards? I absolutely think it’s worth checking out and I am looking forward to seeing what happens with Tilla and the gang.