Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts is a great young adult story about a ragtag group of characters trying to prevent a civil war. Tilla is a bastard. Her father is Lord Kent of the Western Province and her mother is a low born woman. Tilla longs to be at her father’s side as a legitimized heir. But as soon as Lord Kent has his own legitimate children, he tosses Tilla aside to raise them into nobility instead. At the age of 16, Tilla spends most of her time with her half-brother Jax, a stable hand, exploring the old tunnel system under the castle and drinking with the servants.
Instead of being with her family at feasts, Tilla ends up sitting with the other bastards. At that table is Miles of House Hampstedt, a nerd who has had a crush on Tilla for ages and Zell, a Zitochi bastard from the north. Princess Lyriana visits with her uncle, the Royal Archmagus and instead of sitting with the Royals, she decides to sit at the bastards table. Soon, Tilla, Jax, Miles and Zell are leading the sheltered Princess on a nighttime escapade.
As the group is looking at the view from a cliff, they witness a brutal crime that they were never meant to see. The group must run for their lives after their parents have put bounties on their heads to stop then from reaching the King and telling him about their parents’ crimes.
Tilla, Jax, Miles, Zell and Lyriana are well rounded characters and we learn a lot about their backstories. The story starts out nice and lighthearted and then soon takes a dark turn. The story moves along nicely with humor, friendship, fighting, romance and death. The dialogue is sassy, there is magic, danger around every corner and the writing keeps things fresh and modern regardless of the fantasy setting.
I usually don’t like to wait for the next book in a series or a trilogy because I don’t want to let go of the characters for a year or two waiting for the next installment. When this book was over, I was wishing it wasn’t a stand-alone, I didn’t want to let go of the characters. But now I see it has become a trilogy with book two coming out in 2018. If you like this genre, this book is well worth your time.
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 true born 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.
Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat