I received this book for free from Publisher at ALA Midwinter in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Disney Hyperion on May 30th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Publisher at ALA Midwinter
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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 . . .
This book had me at the title! A book that focuses on the bastards, the ones who are often in the background and deemed not as important as the legitimate heirs of royalty.
Basically, Royal Bastards tells the story of how a group of misfits among their own people come together as an unlikely group of friends after witnessing a terrible murder and crime that was meant to start a war. What starts as a need to stick together to survive blossoms into a fierce dedication to protect each other as they traipse across the kingdom in search of safety from those hunting them down. But friendship isn’t the only thing that blossoms as lines blur between a few of our runaway bastards.
One of the biggest aspects of this novel was the characters. The cast of misfits was a well-rounded group. Tilla is our main character. She was tough and I guess a little bit of a rebel at times as she likes to sort of defy her obligations of what is expected of her due to her resentment of not being claimed by her father the High Lord of the Western Province, though secretly she dreams of just that and all that entails including his love. Jax is Tilla’s stable hand half-brother on her non-royal side. He was by far my favorite character. He was often crude and sarcastic and downright hilarious at times. It was obvious he loved deeply by how he treated his sister, friends, and even his crush on Princess Lyriana. The Princess was another favorite. She was a little naive but oh so sincere. Then there is Miles, a smart yet nervous and twitchy bastard who had a long time crush on Tilla. And rounding out the group is the mysterious and deadly Zitochi warrior, Zell. Every character went through major changes and developed completely in just one novel. I loved all the different friendship and relationship dynamics that ensued and the sparks of romance that came to life.
As far as a fantasy novel goes, it does read lighter than others and I found it easy to follow. Fantasy world building can be somewhat overwhelming at times but that’s not the case here. The writing felt young and fresh, a more modern take on a fantasy world. Betrayal, adventure, heartache, friendship, romance, and murder – this book had it all! Fantasy lovers, this is one to check out! I’m definitely looking forward to returning to this world with the sequel.