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 established 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 wets, 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…
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
Title: Royal Bastards
Series: Royal Bastards #1
Author: Andrew Shvarts
The beginning totally lures you in with a sense of security and being loved despite the harsh situation Tilla is in. As a bastard, her place in the royal family is somewhere between the trash and the useful servants. She holds on to the hope that her father still loves her deep down, but because she’s a bastard, she’s forced to live between the worlds of being royal and a castaway, someone the kingdom knows not what to do with.
It had a nice build up, if a little predictable at times, but it stayed true to being a young adult novel full of thrilling adventure and young, budding relationships. I really liked seeing all the different bastards and how they had to get over their differences to appreciate what they all had in common. I also liked that there was romance without it being the main drive and focus. The plot was pleasantly surprising, and I didn’t see a lot of things coming once the story picked up its pace.
A lot of the characters were adorable and endearing, the darker reveals of their inner selves when tested even more shocking. I was almost sad when one of them turned out to be a two-faced coward, but at the same time, it seemed to give them a certain depth that I grudgingly admired. Maddening, and even heart-breaking at times, but definitely something that made the reading experience better. It’s a recommend if you like journeys with purpose and a murder plot that doesn’t stop til someone’s dead.