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Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

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 . . .

Goodreads Summary

Tilla and Jax are bastards by the same father. Tilla still hopes to be legitimized in some way while Jax prefers the wilder life. Their status is far from impressive and often looked down upon in a society where bastards are only useful if the legitimate children are 1) never born or 2) die early. When Lyriana changes up the social order by sitting with the bastards at their specific table, more than just the social structure is shaken up. Soon, the bastard group plus Lyriana must flee together to try to help each other escape an unspeakable horrible fate.

I loved the main characters, in particular, Lyriana, Zell, and Tilla. The brewing romance between Zell and Tilla did not overshadow the main plot or take away from Tilla's impressive mental strength and wit. I love that the author provided the readers with backstories to each of his characters. The characters are dynamic and almost feel as if they could step off the page at any moment. Despite being from very different walks of life, they all come together for a common cause and eventually form friendships and romances. I have to admit that I finished this book in under three hours. I literally couldn't put it down without knowing what happened to Lyriana and how the plot would unfold and what happened in Zell's past, etc... Thoroughly engrossing and wonderfully written, Royal Bastards should fly off the shelves.

5 Stars

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