Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts | Review

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: May 30, 2017 (out now!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Royal Bastards #1
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 is the MOST entertaining YA book I've read this year and for that I'm giving it 
I'm not going to reiterate the plot in this review since the official [super long] synopsis does a really good job of that, so I'm going to jump right into my thoughts.

Do not go into Royal Bastards expecting an intricate high fantasy à la Brandon Sanderson or Robin McKinley. This book is very much fantasy-lite, very straightforward and it relies more on the action and plot rather than the world building or a huge cast of characters with multiple, interwoven storylines as in other high fantasy novels. I do liken this book to that movie The Knight's Tale because while it's set in a medieval fantasy setting the characters talked in like 21st century teenagers, which I didn't mind at all. I basically read this book at just the right time because I wasn't looking for a complicated fantasy novel. I wanted a book I can breeze through (since I was in a reading slump) but still capture me and hold my attention, and Royal Bastards delivered on that. 

On that note, this book would actually be a really good one to pick if you're on a reading slump because it's such a fast-paced read--really, there were no dull moments. For almost the entire novel, Tilla, Jax, Miles, Zell, and Lyriana were traveling, trying to stay under the radar because there was a bounty on their heads and to not get caught by Zell's psychotic older brother who was sent to track them and had a personal vendetta against them. There was constant danger, which meant constant action. I love when characters travel to escape danger or go on a journey in fantasy books, so I ate this book up. I would've loved a map, though, so I could have followed the characters' journey, but I was reading an advanced reader's copy so a map wasn't included. I don't know if the final copy will include a map, but hopefully it does because it's necessary!

Royal Bastards is told through Tilla's first person narrative, and, to be honest, I found her to be the least interesting character out of the five of them. Out of the five, my favorite was Zell because we were told a bit about his background and his relationship with his family that was different from the other three bastards. Lyriana was interesting too because she can do magic. The thing was, we're told about these characters and we never really get to know them at a deeper level, so they come across as made-for-TV archetypes rather than fully fleshed out characters.

However, the entertainment value of this book more than made up for everything else, because I was totally engaged in the story and I devoured this book in two days amidst my book slump. Also, I've also fallen out of love with YA this year, and this book may have renewed my enjoyment of the genre. Therefore, I couldn't give this book a lesser rating because it was just such an awesome and fun read despite everything. Again, add this book to your list of books-to-read-to-get-out-of-a-slump. Also, if you're looking for a light fantasy yet action-packed read, I highly recommend this one.

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