Review: City of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

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.

Review: City of Bastards by Andrew ShvartsCity of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Series: Royal Bastards #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 5, 2018
Pages: 377
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Tilla, bastard of House Kent, has it made. Safe from her murderous father in the dazzling capital of Lightspire, she lives a life of luxury under the protection of the Volaris King, alongside her boyfriend Zell and best friend, Princess Lyriana.

So why isn’t she happy? Maybe it’s the whispers and stares that follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Or maybe it’s the memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave even as she tries to settle into a life in the city's prestigious University.

Then, Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate, a friend. The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide and sweep it under the rug, but when Tilla herself is attacked by a mysterious man with terrifying powers, she’s convinced of a conspiracy. Her friends beg her to stay silent; what she's suggesting is impossible... and treasonous.

But Tilla can't, won't, let it go. And the deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. How is the West beating the supposedly invincible Lightspire Mages in battle? Is it connected to the shadowy cult wreaking havoc in Lightspire? Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.


This was my immediate reaction on Twitter upon finishing City of Bastards. And then this happened:

I just finished this book a few days ago and…. Yeah, I still haven’t processed everything that happened and I’m still in shock and I truly don’t know if I can articulate my feelings in regards to this book. So bear with me!

I really loved Royal Bastards, so I had high hopes for this one, but I was also cautious going into it because I didn’t know if this was meant to be a duology or a trilogy, and I feared Second Book Syndrome. After finishing the book, I discovered it’s going to be a trilogy; however, there isn’t a single trace of Second Book Syndrome in this book. It exceeded my expectations and was EVEN BETTER than Royal Bastards! The writing was epic, the characters had awesome stories and growth, and the world building was incredible.

I absolutely adore Tilla. She’s come so far, yet has so far to go. I liked that she was so conflicted over being in Lightspire – she wanted to enjoy it, yet she missed home. It felt realistic. Through it all, she stayed true to herself and trusted her instincts. I really liked Ellarion and the easy friendship (maybe more?) he and Tilla formed. He was funny, sarcastic and strong. The way his story ended was heartbreaking, though… I’m anxious to see what it means for him in the third and final book.

I wasn’t as big a fan of Zell this book, and I’m not sure why. I think it was a combination of things, some of which I can’t discuss because spoilers. Maybe part of it was because I liked Ellarion so much and kind of shipped him and Tilla instead.

Lyriana probably had the most character development/growth out of everyone because of everything she went through. My heart broke for her throughout the book, but especially at the end. Like with Ellarion, I’m anxious to see what it will mean for her in book three.

Right off the bat, I REALLY like Markiska. Everything about her friendship with Tilla broke a lot of YA stereotypes and it was just epic. She was also such a badass! And then… The way her story ended… Grrr!!!

I also want to mention Marlo, because I adored him and Garrus. Also, Marlo reminded me of someone from the Karen Chance/Cassie Palmer books, and I can’t quite put my finger on who now… Or maybe he reminds me of Willy the Snitch from Buffy, except more badass… Still trying to figure this one out! Either way, I loved his character and the way his story ended!

I don’t know why, but I had major The Magicians vibes while reading this. I haven’t read the books, and only watched part of season one, but the comparison kept popping into my head – something about the “University” kept triggering the comparison. I’m still confused by this, but I’ll throw it out there for anyone who DOES like The Magicians – this book may interest you because of that!

The ending of this book was… I just… I can’t. I have no words. It was… explosive (hahaha). It was epic. It was crazy and insane. It was shocking and jaw-dropping… I just can’t. I can’t think of a better way to explain it. It was just… Whoa. And I REALLY NEED BOOK THREE RIGHT NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU!!!!! I seriously don’t know if I can wait until 2019!!! *SOBS!!!!!!*

Overall, I really, really, REALLY enjoyed this book. It was even better than book one, and exceeded my expectations. It was more intense with higher stakes, and each character had more to lose. Highly recommend this for fans of Royal Bastards (you’re gonna LOVE IT even more than book one), The Magicians (still not sure about this comparison, but I’m still mentioning it), and fans of royalty, court life, magical universities and mystery/intrigue.


Review: Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

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.

Review: Royal Bastards by Andrew ShvartsRoyal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Series: Royal Bastards #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on May 30, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

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.