Release date: May 30th 2017
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 . . .
Royal Bastards was an entertaining read that had kept me intrigued the entire time. There were plenty of interesting characters, plot twists, and adventure to push the pace so the book didn’t feel slow. It started off pretty light and got darker as the book went on, and if the series keeps getting darker as it goes on that should make for a very dark last book.
The book was told all from the POV of Tilla, who was ultimately a girl who just wanted her father’s love and attention. She cared deeply for her friends, especially her half-brother Jax, and wanted to keep them safe. She went through a lot of character growth and realizations in the course of this book and I liked that, while it was a lot of growth, it wasn’t too much where it might feel like she has nowhere to grow in the next two books.
My favourite thing about the book was the Breakfast Club vibe given off by the five teens who ended up on the run. The fact that they were all so different and knew each other for different amounts of time meant loyalties were tilted. It was hard to trust someone after only knowing them for a day but they had to in order to survive. I also really liked that it played away from the usual fantasy tropes of the main character being a “chosen one” who will save the world. There was magic and a war brewing but the main focus of this first book was the teens staying alive, figuring out their parents’ end game, and introducing the reader to the world.
There were a few things that did throw me a bit. There seemed to be a lot of modern terms used in the dialogue with the medieval setting. It wasn’t enough to take me out of the story but just enough it make me pause every now and then. Also, there were a couple bigger twists that I saw coming. Again, not enough to take me out of the story but it was enough so that I wasn’t shocked when it happened.
Overall, it was a solid first book that does have me excited to see where the author takes the series.
*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*