I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Royal Bastards #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on May 30, 2017
Source: the publisher
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 . . .
I adored this book so much!!! The characters were epic, the plot was intriguing and the writing was great. I’ve been in a terrible reading slump for over a year now, and this book really helped pull me out of it.
I loved Tilla right from the start. She’s “rebellious, determined and stubborn,” with “a bold heart and an iron will.” This was the way two of the characters in the book described her (hence the quotation marks), and I 100% agree. I liked Zell’s character growth. His backstory was heartbreaking but I loved the way his story ended. I really liked his relationship with Tilla.
Jax was an amazing character and I sobbed when one very big thing happened to him – I kept hoping there would be some kind of epic twist at the end, but alas, there was not. Lyriana was an interesting character. I’m hoping there’s a sequel because I’d love to see her in Lightspire, ruling in her natural element. I’d also love to learn more about her background and her magic.
Finally, Miles… UGH! Don’t even get me started. I didn’t like him in the beginning and I HATED him by the end.
I had a LOT of comparison vibes with this book. First, as always, I had major Reign feels (re: Kings, Queens, court and Bash, since he’s a bastard). Second, I had some pretty big Long May She Reign vibes. I can’t go into details without spoilers. But part of it was what happened at the banquet in the beginning and part of it was that Jax from Royal Bastards reminded me of William Fitzroy from Long May She Reign.
Finally, the biggest vibes I had while reading this book? Breakfast Club vibes! Our main characters were kind of just thrown together in this incredibly crazy, dangerous situation and they banded together and made the most out of it. But for some strange reason, these Breakfast Club vibes were “Degrassi’s Breakfast Club-like episode” vibes. You can watch it on YouTube (spoiler alert if you’ve never watched the show, because it’s season 3). I don’t know why, but I kept picturing the scene where they conga down the hallway.
I loved the descriptions of the different mages! The magic in this book was so intriguing and, in some cases, a bit wild and untamed. I loved that the rules could be broken and the magic had different manifestations.
Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book. The ending was super intense and had me flailing! Again, I’m REALLY hoping for a book two because I want to see what happens next for these characters! I love where all their stories ended in this book, but their stories are FAR from over! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves castles, court and intrigue. And to anyone who enjoyed Long May She Reign and The Breakfast Club.