Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Royal Bastards

Author: Andrew Shvarts
Genre: Teen, Fantasy
Type: e-book
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
First Published: May 30, 2017
First Line: "Princess Lyriana came to Castle Waverly two months after I turned sixteen."

Book Description from GoodReadsBeing 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 . . .

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: This book is full of adventure, betrayal, sword fighting, magic and some mayhem thrown in for good measure. And yet my feelings about this book are all over the place. 

On the one hand, I loved its mystery, energy and intense fight scenes. The characters are a downtrodden, motley bunch who you want to root for as they struggle to find their place in a world that is tumbling down around them. 

But Tilla and her misfits lacked depth and much of their connection was based on telling the reader instead of showing. I wish these relationships (and some plot aspects) were given more page time to develop. Some of the relationships flipped quickly from 'I can't stand her' to 'She's my bestest friend!' and I needed more to go on to make that leap. The same could be said for the romantic angle which was obvious from the beginning but, unfortunately, lacked substance (and could have been omitted, in my opinion).

I also struggled with the language for two reasons. First, it ranged in maturity from a middle-schooler in the beginning to teen speak (swearing and sexual language) later on. I also wasn't a fan of the inclusion of contemporary language. This is a Game of Thrones-type fantasy setting (mythical creatures, magic, sword fighting ...) and the inclusion of lines like 'we realized just how screwed we were' or 'it pissed me off something awful' didn't gel with the setting and felt distracting.

I liked this book but can't say I loved it. It's a good, fantasy adventure read but similar to many others in the genre. There's murder, betrayals, political upheavals, battles for power and insta-romance but no big surprises. Overall, this is a solid, lighter fantasy read for teens. 

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Disney-Hyperion for providing me with an e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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