Review: Royal Bastards
by Andrew Shvarts
Hardcover, 352 pages
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 Royal Bastards sat upon my shelf unread for longer than I intended. I was in a fantasy mood recently, so I decided to pull it down and give it a go. I could tell from the summary that this was going to be an action-packed book that would be hard to put down.
Tilla is the main character of the book. She's the bastard of Lord Kent of the Western Province. Like the other bastards in the book, she desperately wants not only her father's love, but also wants to be acknowledged as legitimate. Which, I think, is the most heartbreaking part of this story.
A visiting dignitary, Princess Lyriana, shakes things up when she decides to sit at the Bastards' table during a feast in her honor. At that table is Tilla; her brother, Jax; her friend, Miles, and a Zitochi warrior named Zell. From henceforth I shall refer to them as the Fellowship of the Bastards or FoB.
The FoB plans to go to the beach after the feast and it is there where their fates are forever changed. They witness the beginnings of a rebellion that will start a civil war. They flee for their lives pursued by many different groups determined to have their heads. They face many dangers, including giant spiders--which of course is paramount in any good fantasy. The FoB must learn to trust each other and work together or die alone.
This was a quick read for me. Once I got started reading, it was hard to stop. I enjoyed the character dynamics, the bit of magic, and the overall storyline. It was predictable in some parts, but that didn't take away from the story. I would love to see this made into a television series. Jon Snow would have some fierce competition in the bastard category. I'm so glad I finally picked up this book. It was well worth the wait.