Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts is the first in a thrilling trilogy and a highly addictive, breath-taking fantasy adventure; mixing magic, action, and suspense with elements of drama and romance, making the perfect recipe for a brand new YA novel. The premise is firmly set in the middle ages, in an alternate universe where two powerful royal families collide in a political battle to rule.
Tillandra, or Tilla, is our heroine and the driving force behind her gang of bastards. When princess Lyriana makes the decision to sit at the ‘bastards table’ at the royal feast, Tilla is shocked, similarly are her surrounding companions. That night, Tilla and her band of bastards take the princess on a late night escapade. It’s all fun and games until they discover a harrowing scene, one they definitely should not have been witness to, one that may even get them killed… Betrayed by their own flesh and blood, the group flee from the castle and out into unknown territory. It’s a race against time to outrun the barbaric warriors who relentlessly pursue them and to stop a deadly ambush that will rip the kingdom apart forever.
“Change is coming, and with it, tremendous danger.”
The non-stop action and rebellious characters were utterly captivating – each one in their own way defying their parents. Teenagers will be able to relate to Tilla’s sense of alienation from the wider community as feelings of not quite ‘fitting in’ are commonly experienced by young adults (we’ve all been there!). She is a typically ordinary and ‘plain’ young girl, yet her resilience and stubbornness in the face of opposition is highly commendable, making her an inspirational role model. She is able to make the hard decisions in life, exposing herself to the wrath of her father in order to do what she believes is right.
*WARNING Tiny Spoiler Ahead
Most notably, Tilla challenges the traditional conventions of political fantasy where cunning power plays are renowned amongst the royalty. She decides to turn her back on their habits and form her own path, in that moment, I really respected her. It could be that I can relate to her low tolerance of the tiresome and never-ending manipulative games played between people vying for power whether on a large or small scale. Or/and the pleasure of a character whose audacious decisions cause her to step outside of the ‘box’. In this way, Tilla paves a way forward into a brighter future, setting a significant example to her peers and symbolising a new beginning.
*Ok you’re in the clear…
Shvarts does a sterling job of creating a balance between the common tropes of good versus evil, defining that grey area in-between and driving awareness of goodness in villains and darkness in heroes. Basically, not all villains are inherently evil – except for Dolores Umbridge of course, if you’ve read Harry Potter you’ll know why!
“My own father wanted me dead.”
I found Royal Bastards to be enormous fun with an achingly endearing bunch of lead characters that form their own version of a family unit. You are sure to laugh, cry and gasp in amazement at the various twists and turns that come flying at you when you least expect it, along with a Zitochi warrior who’s just to die for. Ladies… prepare yourselves.
A fresh spring read that packs an emotionally pulsating punch for the finale; a credible end to an insanely exhilarating adventure across foreign country, dense forest and far from the reach of the barbaric Zitochi warriors!
Cunning power plays galore. Terrifying monsters from the depths of hell. Gruesomely shocking violence. Fans of medieval fantasy-adventure eat your heart out – you’re in for one unforgettable experience.
** If it seems like I’ve covered everything in this novel, you’d be wrong. I can assure you that there is SO much more to come – I’ve barely scratched the surface…
Look out for an upcoming sneak preview and Q&A with the author himself!!
(£16.99, h/b, 352pp, 9781484767658)
Post by Sarah