Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Title: Royal Bastards
Author: Andrew Shvarts
Published: May 30th 2017 by Disney-Hyperion

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 . . .

The minute I picked up Royal Bastards I couldn’t put it down. I absolutely loved the story, the characters, the relationships and the world.

Tilla is such a great main character. She was born to Lord Kent but is considered a bastard since he was not married to her mother and he choose not to legitimize her. Not yet anyway. She is caught in a limbo of not being owned and not being disowned. Although she lives a good life in the castle and is brought up similar to her legit sisters. She still comes second and doesn’t have the same familial love that they have. Tilla actually shares a greater bond with her half-brother who she shares her mother with. She is caught between two worlds and doesn’t really have a place. Despite having to run for her life, I feel like she really finds herself on the journey. I enjoyed watching her change and evolve. She comes into her own.

I loved Tilla and Jax sibling love. It was one of my favorite parts of the story. I just loved the way that they were close and knew each other inside and out. Complete trust and understanding through their bond. They would do anything to protect the other. It was so nice to see such a strong family relationship, one that was pure and not peppered with lies.

Lyrania was also a really interesting character. She might be a pampered princess but she has such a sharp intelligence about her. She’s very aware of the power she holds and how it can help people and not just the upper crust. I liked how many facets she has that you don’t see right away.

Zell of course is Zell. A Zitochi warrior with his own dark issues. I liked him though, despite him and Jax not getting along initially. I felt like he came around in the guy bond department. I also like how naturally Tilla and him grow closer together.

Then there is Miles. You could tell that he was the most hesitant of the group in the beginning to do the right thing. Despite being a bastard, he has a very close relationship with his mother. So the idea of going against her in any form is very difficult for him. Plus he just wants a good life and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he would have been legitimized so he doesn’t live on that hinge like Tilla. He was okay but I was definitely rooting for Zell and Tilla versus Tilla and Miles. It wasn’t really a love triangle, Tilla was generally more concerned with not dying.

I loved the writing and the plot. It was such a great story and you can always sell me on adventure.