Review: Royal Bastards
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 . . .
My Rating: 4 Stars
I truly did not know what to expect from this novel. I decided to read it because I received the ARC for the sequel and I couldn't read it without reading the first. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked Tilla and Jax from the beginning when they were sitting on a wall watching the princess arrive while sharing wine. I was happy to see the main character have an older brother who took care of her and loved her. The two of them had an amazing relationship that I adored. The story moves on from there to introduce us to two other bastards: Miles House Hampstedt and a Zitochi, Zell and the princess, Lyriana. Because Tilla is a bastard she has to sit at the bastards' table instead of at her father's side. The princess shocks everyone by declaring that she will sit at the bastards' table with Tilla, Miles, and Zell. This was a comedic scene to me and I loved when Lyriana, Miles, and Zell decided they would join Tilla and Jax on the beach. This is when the story really started with what happened on the beach that propelled theses bastards and a princess to run for their lives.
Tilla is one of my new favorites. I loved her complicated character. It was interesting to see how she struggled to belong in two different worlds that included two people she cared about the most. Her willingness to sacrifice all that she ever wanted to save her brother was admirable. I liked that she never seemed okay with the things that were going on and decided to stand on the side of right instead of family just because that's what you do. She was a badass who did not always know what she wanted but always seemed to do the right thing. Lyriana was so much more than the annoying princess I took her for in the beginning of the book. She was fierce and loyal and had more depth to her than you would think a pampered princess would have. She kept her word and stood by the side of bastards she could have cast aside at any chance. Zell was a quiet Zitochi who was bastard with a stormy past. He was a warrior and willing to do whatever he had to do to protect his friends but he was also compassionate and could not find it in himself to kill his brother or father who both deserved it. Jax was lovable and a jokester who I loved for the way he protected his younger sister. Their bond and closeness was nice to see. Miles never quite grew on me but he was in love with Tilla and had been since they were children. The five of them made an odd and diverse group of children having to do the impossible and run for their lives against the very people who should have been protecting them. I feel like this book was character driven as much as it was about romance and action. I loved that about it.
I liked the romance and action and growth of relationships in Royal Bastards. Shvarts did a good job keeping the romance understated so that it did not overshadow the action and bigger picture in this book that dealt with familial relations and friendships. I did not see the ending coming at all. I knew something was coming but I never expected that to happen. This book evoked strong emotions and had me crying by the end but it also had me laughing and swooning. I truly enjoyed this story more than I would have expected. I cannot wait to dive into the sequel and see what other adventures Tilla and her friends go on.