Thank you so much to Disney-Hyperion for sending me an ARC of Royal Bastards 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 . . .
Royal Bastards was SO MUCH FUN to read. Seriously, I picked this one up after months of looking forward to it, and the next thing I knew I was 50 pages in and hadn't come up for air.
This book is ridiculously fast-paced, and I mean that in the best way possible. Obviously, from my above statement, it starts off fast. Royal Bastards keeps up that same pace until the climax, where things go absolutely crazy and it. is. fantastic. It was a roller coaster full of corkscrews and loops with no boring bits. I actually loved reading something that was full of high action/emotion scenes, one right after the other, because I feel like that's something that has been missing in my literary life lately.
The characters were also a lot of fun. The modern day phrases they used in a sword-fighting, lords-and-ladies fantasy setting are hilarious. Towards the middle of the book I felt like some of the actions of certain characters were becoming a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed the directions everyone went.
I felt like the overall story lacked a little bit of depth. On one hand, this added to it being a really fast-paced, easy read. On the other, it left a bit of a wall between me and the story itself. I couldn't really throw my mind into what I was reading the way I wanted to. That said, I feel like this could easily be overcome in the sequel. And, obviously, it didn't stop me from reading and enjoying the book.
I loved the ending of Royal Bastards, I felt like Shvarts unapologetically took the story in the direction it needed to go and it just felt right. I can't wait for a sequel(according to book Twitter there is one in the works so YAY). I think Shvarts is an author to keep an eye on, and Royal Bastards is a really strong debut. I definitely recommend it to fans of fantasy, but it's very unique and I really think it could appeal to those who don't typically read fantasy as well.
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