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 . . .

Quick Thoughts and Rating: 4 stars! I enjoyed the diversity among the characters and a few of the friendship/family dynamics between some of them, but I guess I expected more from the book… of sorts. For it to be pushed as fantasy, I think I missed the incorporation of certain particulars I’ve grown accustomed to getting with that genre, namely strong world-building. I’d definitely label this title as more fantasy-lite. With that said, I did enjoy the book and read it all in one sitting

♥ Review: There’s not really much that I can drone on about in this review section. Mostly, I will say that I enjoyed the cast of characters the most. I thought our heroine, Tilla, and her supporting cast of fellow bastards and one princess were wonderfully, culturally diverse and their wide range of personalities definitely made this an enjoyable read. I really liked the family/friendship dynamics between some of them, and while I felt the romance could have been stronger overall, I appreciated that it was a slow, natural build and believe it certainly had its shining moments. The individual and group’s growth will probably be the element I reflect on most when I think back on this title.

The plot and pacing were also well done. I like that Mr. Shvarts incorporated a lot of action and adventure, along with a few betrayals and surprising reveals. It pushed the tempo when necessary, but I also liked those slower moments that really allowed us to dig in to the depth of the characters and see the building relationships forming between them. As far as plot goes, it wasn’t anything revolutionary, but it was engaging. Once I started the book, I didn’t set it aside again until I was finished because I just couldn’t wait to see how the story would end. Speaking of endings, this one felt a little rushed and a tad anti-climatic in a sense, but I wasn’t disappointed or unsatisfied with it.

I only really had two minor issues with this book. First, I saw the potential for it to be much stronger, though that probably would have required at least one additional book. The author manages to work in a good deal of the history without info-dumping, but it all felt somewhat incomplete. Additionally, the book overall felt like the author’s condensed version of a much larger story. Secondly, while the dialogue made me laugh out loud more than once, it felt weird to me that it was so modernized. Essentially, these teens spoke similarly to your everyday teenager and while it wouldn’t have bothered me if this were a contemporary, it felt out of place in this historical-esque world of magic and warring kingdoms with dangerous mythical creatures.

♥ Teaser Quote: 

    We stood there like that, the five of us, gazing up at Lyriana’s orbs like they were the Coastal Lights. Here we were, standing by this ruined cottage, wanted dead by the entire Province, a band of brutal mercenaries after us, and yet, in that moment, I felt . . . safe? Protected? Loved? I felt like I’d been out in the cold my entire life and had just for the first time stepped into a warm house with a crackling fire.
     I look around, from face to face. We all knew the same thing. We were in this together.
     Until the very end.

–quote taken from the eARC of Royal Bastards at 42%

Book Rating Breakdown
Cover
Writing
Characters
Plot
Pacing
General Book Feels
Degree my heart was ripped out
Overall:

♥ Rec It? Sure, especially for readers that like fantastical elements but not the depth that usually comes with your typical fantasy read. Having stated that, if you’re a hardcore fantasy reader, then you might miss having that heavier world-building aspect. Still, it was a quick, entertaining read and I would certainly like to see more from this author.

♥ A very special thanks to Disney-Hyperion (particularly the very lovely Ms. McGinty) and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.

*Disclaimer: An e-copy of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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