Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review - ROYAL BASTARDS by Andrew Shvarts

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Published: June 6, 2017
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Print ARC
Rating: 4

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...

Initially, I was dead set on giving the book five stars. But I felt like the middle dragged too much for my liking. So instead, my overall rating is a 3.5. I liked the aspect of bastards being center stage of the story, and for the most part I liked the characters. I think I just felt a bit disconnected with the book the more I read. Which is weird because I connected so well with it at the beginning. 

The plot is interesting because it plays like a fantasy novel but the characters talk like they are from modern times. It kind of jilted me at first because the setting didn't really match what they were saying. Eventually, I just let it go and thought it was a cool touch. 

As I was saying at the beginning about mostly liking the characters...I didn't much care for the main character, Tilla. I felt like she was whiny, a crybaby, and immature. It's like the world owed her something when she wasn't the only one who got the short end of the stick. Towards the end I was able to tolerate her a little more but I wish the story would have been told from someone else's point of view. 

The story ended but I felt like it also left on a note of multiple interpretations. Which means, I do hope for a next book. I'd like to be able to see if the characters have grown and plus I really like Zell and Lyriana. I think if you're looking for a unique book with hints of romance, action, and a group of kids struggling to fit in, go ahead and read this. It's well written and although it dragged in the beginning, the overall book was well thought out and I look forward to more from the author. 

*A huge thank you to the publisher for providing a copy for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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