Big Book,  YA

Royal Bastards

Andrew Shvarts
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

What are your overall thoughts?
I have to admit rather predictably that it was the title that first grabbed my attention; among the residents of my monstrous inbox (if only it was due to popularity rather than inept email management) it certainly stood out. The synopsis seemed right up my street, courtly intrigue, fantasy, magic, an epic journey- so far so Caroline.
The title should have given me some clue that the author was not going to pull his punches. One minute I’m floating along, very contently I might add, on a familiar cloud of hooped skirts, banquets and a gathering of unlikely companions about to impark on a risqué nocturnal excursion, which will undoubtedly trigger the aforementioned travel …
…then KABOOMB (literal explosions) sh*T gets real, and from that moment the book flips from a predictable band of teenagers hiking across the country to thwart a dastardly plot, to something more.
Sure, there is a collection of young adults with powers and ability’s beyond their years, there’s hiking across the country and there’s even evil to foil. But this book was so much more than I anticipated; it had more energy, more action, more gruesome ends and more pulse raising horrors- from the shuddering inducing cave dwellers to the horrific aftermath of war.
From the moment the group made their clandestine trip to the cove I was so caught up in the non-stop action and griped by the adventure, that I risked developing a DVT from immobility. Thankfully aside from a numb bum and a mild case of sleep depravation I am no worse from reading the novel in a single sitting.
What was your favorite aspect of the book?
My favorite aspect was the main character, Tilla. While I don’t claim to know many royal bastards to form a truly informed opinion, Tilla felt authentic and she was easy to relate to. Tilla, is no chosen one, she doesn’t suddenly discover immense magical powers, her badassary is developed through weeks of training and she questions why she has even gotten involved with events.
I liked that she didn’t blindly follow some pre ordained destiny, allow herself to be used as a political pawn or take up a moral crusade without questioning why on earth she had gotten involved in the first place. In fact she strongly considers taking the easy option and getting out of dodge. Her reasons for staying the course felt relatable and believable.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Probably our protagonist Tilla, although I enjoyed getting to know all of the characters and I look forward to getting to know them further as the trilogy progresses.
Would you recommend this book?
Yes, it was a gripping, fast paced read. Fair warning- parts of the book make uncomfortable reading, particularly those with a gentle disposition and a completely understandable aversion to our eight legged friends *shudders*
Summarise in one sentence.
Not your predictable fantasy road trip

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: June 2017
Format: ARC
Pages: 346
Genre: Fantasy, magic
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None

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