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Friday, 7 July 2017
Review: Royal Bastards
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of 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 . .
My lovely blog readers, you might remember this book from a post I did waaaaaay back in January all about debut reads coming out this year that I was excited to read! That's right....I've been wanting to read this book since way back in December when I wrote up the post, and when the synopsis for it was waaaay shorter. I have seriously been looking forward to this book for so long. It sounded interesting, original and like a really good adventure! We all see bastards pop up in fantasy books, Jon Snow anyone? But they're always sidelined usually and shoved to the side, so I was intrigued to see a book focusing on a group of them.
I immediately loved this book. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I got things I wasn't expecting right from the beginning! I loved Tilla and Jax, and I loved their relationship and how much they loved each other and where really there for each other. I loved their interactions, they had such a great sibling relationship and Jax always backed her up, it was really nice to read about.
Tilla I loved one hundred percent. I empathised with her and related to her so much and how she felt and everything. I seriously related to her hardcore. How she felt about her place in the castle and with her father hit me right in the feels. I mean we all want to be accepted by our family, and loved by them and that's all she wanted. I was right there with her for most of her emotions and thoughts, and she develops over the course of the book in to such a great character. A badass who'll do what she thinks is right despite the consequences to her. I respected her so damn much by the end of the book. Especially because Tilla is just a regular girl. No super powers. No special training other than what Zell teaches her...so she's super awkward when she's fighting sometimes....much like any of us would be in her situation, I loved it.
From the moment we meet the other bastards, I was hooked. I loved the banter between Tilla, Miles and Zell right in that first interaction, and then we threw Jax in to the mix and I just loved it. They cracked me up and there was tension and friction but it was nice to see them overcome it and I liked watching them bond and the camaraderie develop over the course of the book. They had such a great dynamic. Sure they where a little cliche, the bookworm, the princess and so on, but they where so brilliantly brought to life.
Lyriana was a hard one for me, at times she really annoyed me and I'd roll my eyes at her and her actions, it was so stereotypically damsel in distress and Princess-y and I freely admit I called her whole thing with Jax from the beginning because I could see it in my minds eye, and it was you know...a bit of a cliche....but Lyriana ended up being so much more than the pampered annoying princess I first thought she was. I ended up really feeling for her, and she comes out of her shell and like Tilla, develops in to such a brilliantly badass girl.
I'm torn between Jax and Zell for my favourite character I'm not going to lie. I was even warming up to Miles until a certain scene between him and Tilla when a big, red warning sign started to go off in my hand and sadly I was so right about him. Now I kinda just want him dead. Sorry Miles. You could have been epic. Zell had such hidden depth to him that you didn't really see much at first, he just seemed to hold himself separate from everyone else, and Jax has more going on under the surface to. I have to say I really enjoyed the character building in this book, the characters had layers and they grew and developed over the course of the book, even if not for the better.
On the romance front, I had one ship, and one ship only. Tilla and Zell. I shipped it hard. No-one was getting between my ship. No-one. There was so much potential for a love triangle but nope. Not happening. Tilla knew exactly what she wanted. Sure she didn't go about it in the right way, but I can't really blame her. A lot was going on. But I loved the relationship between Zell and Tilla and I just....really ship it okay. And you know.....Jax and Lyriana where cute. A little predictable. But cute.
Royal Bastards is fast paced, with characters that really grow and come in to their own. There's plenty of humour to go with the action and romance, and it all blends together so well to create an enjoyable read. Helped of course, by the solid plot and it's so easy to sit and read this in one go. It's devourable. That's a word now. Shhhh. Don't get me wrong, there where a few parts where I could see what was going to happen next, but the originality, writing, characters, world etc all outweigh that for me, plus there where just as many things that I didn't see coming.
The world was fascinating, there's a history to it that we find out some chunks of, but I'd love to know more. I'm so curious about it, I feel like the world has a really rich quality to it with this vividly dark history that still springs up in the current time period...literally. I'm intrigued by the magic system and the rings and the Titans and everything. I'm really hoping that there's going to be a second book and because it'll probably be in Lightspire we'll get to learn more about the world and the magic. I'm also super excited to see more of the world, like the previously mentioned Lightspire. Don't get me wrong...the book ended well. It was satisfying, but..there's so much more to find out, and see in this world and it'd be nice to see how everything turned out. I won't be disappointed if it's a standalone...but I'd really love another book or two to get to learn more about the world and see more of the characters.
I should warn you guys though, this book is really vivid. Which was great for the majority of the book...but I could have done without the vividness when it came to the scene with the spider creatures because I was so grossed out. I hate spiders. One might even say I'm arachnophobic so....you know...really vivid spider creatures....doing whatever they where doing...and I could heart the skittering noise and *shudder* It's like Shelob all over again.
I had two little quibbles with this book though, and only two. The first thing is that this is a fantasy, set in a fantasy world and I felt like our little group where a bit too modern when they spoke. I don't need them to be speaking all Game of Thrones-y and old timey, but it just felt a bit too modern and contemporary. My other quibble is literally just me being full on salty about what happens to one character, I'm not going to lie. I just....Lyriana spent hours in an earlier scene trying to save that little girl yet when a certain character is injured she just doesn't even attempt to heal them and goes in for the sobbing and the kiss and the goodbyes and then the character dies and I was sitting looking at the book like....what? Really? And I could clearly see how it was all going to play out immediately after that and I was just like...I don't know. It seemed a bit abrupt and plot devicey. Maybe I mis-read something. Maybe (probably) I'm just hella salty because favourite character.
All in all Royal Bastards broke my heart...but it was a wild ride and I loved venturing through part of the world of the book with the characters and seeing them develop in to even better characters. It was also nice to have such a relatable main character, I'm not going to lie, even if she hit me in the feels more than once. I really, genuinely want to see more of the characters and the world, so while GoodReads doesn't say whether there's going to be a sequel...I'm really hoping there is! Action, adventure, magic, romance...it's just such a great blend!